REVIEW: Harry Potter & The Cursed Child 5/5

I engaged in a lot of speculation in the days leading up to attending Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I purposely didn’t read the play (also because I’m still halfway through the third Harry Potter book) or any reviews before I saw the show. We both wanted to be completely immersed in the experience. So, for the months leading up to D-Day (the play was booked A YEAR PRIOR!), I was filled with questions: “Do you think there will be moving paintings?” “Will there be ghosts?” “What about Hagrid? Will he be in it?” My concern was for the details, the stuff that without them, the story will not feel as—dare I say it—magical.

Y’all, the details are present and then some. Since I am bound by #keepthesecrets button confidentiality (everyone was handed this on a button as we left the performance of Par One), I shall not reveal the whats and hows. Instead I will do the most “non-review” review possible and share my four main observations of the play.

The casting was spot-on

I lowkey cried four times during the play. The first was when we initially see Harry, Ron and Hermione together. The actor portraying Ron Weasley was phenomenal—funny, touching and so clearly captures Ron’s loyalty. I found myself enchanted by his interpretation of Weasley life.

Grown-up Harry Potter is a man whose emotions are still as much on the surface as they were when he was a boy, reinforcing that he will always be tortured by his past. The difficulties of growing up were present throughout the story, specifically the idea that being an adult doesn’t mean we are grown.

This was something that was lamented by the portrayal of Draco Malfoy focused on a man who not only had to live with the sins of his family, but who continues to struggle with his father’s doctrine. You could see the actor wrestling with Draco’s Death Eater-based socialization, particularly when it comes to raising his son while still having to interact with the rest of the wizarding world.

Lastly, Hermione Granger, was hands down my favorite. The actress had to balance many incarnations of Hermione: her bravery, brains and calm approach to the chaos of the wizard world. Hermione was played as the badass we all know her to be and did everything in heels for most of the play. Plus, there were many nods to the feminist household Ron and Hermione live in, from the hyphenated last name of their children to hints that Ron is part joke-shop-owner and part stay-at-home-parent.

The trio’s kids are going to be okay

The actress who plays Rose Granger-Weasley was both wonderful and tragic. Her performance was stunning, and Rose was presented as the perfect blend of her parents. Her energy level was through the roof and every time she was on stage you couldn’t take your eyes off her. The tragic part was that she was not given more to do; her character is sparse after the first half of the show, and clearly could have handled more.

One of the recurring themes of the show (and the HP canon in general) was the troubles of being an outcast. Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy are those people. If Rose fits in and excels at everything (like mother like daughter, basically), Albus and Scorpius fail. The portrayal of Albus, however, was what the play promised, a teenage boy whose famous father’s image is so daunting that he must either rebel against or surpass it. The presentation of Scorpius is not at all what one would expect from a Malfoy. He is goofy, book-smart, nerdy, awkward and totally weird (basically a blend of the iconic trio, in my opinion). Like many folks in the theater, I could relate.

How does one overcome stigma?

This theme was clearly one of the cruxes of the play and manifested in Draco. The portrayal of Draco, a man who has had almost every adult figure in his life fail him (and struggles with his place in the wizard world) blew me away. Draco was given a lot more layers in this story, as a parent, a husband and a man trying to exist in a society that does not trust him.

In the books, Draco always felt like a shadow figure, and in the films, I thought he was played up more as a boy whose jealousy and privilege where poisoning him. It was nice to see him as more than this. Layers manifested in the ways Draco was portrayed as a complicated man, someone who wants to help his son become more than a product of Death Eaters.

Boys can cry

All of the characters, and the actors portraying them, presented themselves as multi-dimensional people. Rose was not only smart, but she also a jock. Ginny writes for the sports section of The Daily Prophet and is a loving mother in an egalitarian household. (Harry does the cooking just fyi). Hermione runs the Ministry, Ron works part-time, and their children hold both their last names.

But what was most telling was the friendship between Albus and Scorpius. Both boys are allowed to share their deepest feelings with each other, without ridicule or judgement. They express their fears, hug a lot and demonstrate that boys can cry. We also see this with Harry and Albus. Harry allows his son to see him crying and devastated. Even Draco gets a few moments where we realize how close to the surface his emotions run, yet Draco is more aware of the restrictions masculinity places on expressing feelings.

Conclusion

In short, The Cursed Child lived up to my expectations and beyond. Please accept my apologies for the lack of details in this non-review review, but I do fear the wrath of Professor McGonagall if any secrets are revealed.

#KeeptheSecrets

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I watched the Star Wars movies for the first time ever. This is my honest account.

I’m 23 years old, a big-arse cinephile who studied film for a year at Uni, who loves anything scifi-related…

… but has never watched the Star Wars movies.

until now.

For me this was a cultural rite of passage, and something I should have done years ago. But alas, procrastination won that battle. To my peers who still haven’t seen Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, let me offer a word of warning: The fade transition effects and the deep V revealing Harrison Ford’s majestic chest hair can’t be unseen. But mostly, I say this: Watch it!

My expectations

This is who I thought were the good guys…

  • Luke Skywalker, a young man with a feathered 1980s haircut and a martial arts outfit, who is also quite attractive
  • R2-D2, a small, round-headed robot that beep-talks
  • C-3PO, a gold robot doppelganger of the Tin Man from The Wizards of Oz
  • Chewbacca, a “Wookiee” who looks like a furrier, cuter Yeti
  • Han Solo, who also has a feathered haircut but wears a vest. Who is also a very attractive guy… just 5-6 pinches more than Luke
  • Princess Leia, who styles her hair to look like earmuffs, and has an iconic bikini outfit
  • Yoda, an old, small green creature who speaks in subject-object-verb sentence structure
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has white hair and looks somber, like an adult emo
  • Jedis, who have lightsabers with different colours

… and the bad guys

  • Darth Vader, who’s got a black Bane-ish mask and, after being spoiled rotten over the years, is Luke’s dad
  • The other guy who looks like Voldemort in a cloak
  • Stormtroopers, those badass-looking robot guys with the white armour

Reality

Well, what can I say apart from W-O-W. George Lucas, the brains behind this scifi franchise, is literally the definition of ‘genius’. I thought freaking James Cameron was the genius with ‘Avatar’. Guess what? I was wrong, and am not ashamed to admit it (*DISCLAIMER* I still love James Cameron’s work and Avatar).

The first movie I watched that is part f the franchise was Rogue One. I asked my boyfriend whether I had to watch the other movies before this one, and he assured me that there was no need as this was a prequel *sigh of relief*. But now I can connect the events in Rogue One with the rest of the movies. I then proceeded to watching the rest of the movies in chronological order

SFX

Apart from the very cringy fade transition, the SFX weren’t too bad considering the time they were made. This is thanks to John Dykstra, the special effects designer who worked on the original Star Wars and was chosen by Lucas himself to head up the director’s visual effects company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

My favourite SFX is definitely the lightsabers, from their woosh-woosh type sound (seriously, how does one write sound?) to the different colours, which are iconic and representative to their respective owner.

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The Lightsabers and their Owner

Princess Leia

She deserves her own post of reasons why she is a realist and most legit badass in both the Star Wars franchise and princess history, but she had to get an honourable mention in this honest account of said franchise.

Where do I even begin?! Her hair is both iconic and on fleek, her white princess gown is out of this world (pun is probably intended), and she is also feisty and sassy. So much so, she makes Han Solo (other badass in the movie) docile (*SPOILER* is it any wonder they end up together?!)

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Iconic and on fleek

This was my honest account of what I thought about the iconic (I keep saying that a lot in this post, wonder why!) franchise. My next post will go more into depth about Princess Leia and some of the many reasons she is proper badass.

Stay tuned!

“A Tale as Old as Time” – ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Movie Review 4/5

Director: Bill Condon.

Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Josh Gad, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Kline.

PG cert, 129 mins

Cast

Starting off with the obvious: the cast. When I found out they were doing a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, I searched long and hard for actors that could play Belle, Beast, Gaston, Maurice, Mrs Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth et al.

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First promotional photo of Emma Watson as Belle

Let’s start off with the protagonist: Belle. Upon the announcement that Belle was being portrayed by the queen of feminism herself, Emma Watson (do I NEED to mention the movies she’s been in?!), I could not have screamed “YES!” louder than anything. Then I frowned and thought to myself, “Okay how the heck didn’t I see Emma Watson as Belle?!” And then, this promo photo was released, and I saw it. That was not Emma as Belle. That was Belle herself.

The next character I’ll be discussing is Gaston. Like, okay… he’s not as important of a character as Beast (played by the handsome Dan Stevens), but when I saw the promo photo of Gaston, the first thing I said was, “Oh, I get it now… Gaston loves himself so damn much, he actually auditioned to

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Gaston played by Gaston… ahem… I mean Luke Evans

play himself.” But alas, that was just a fantasy of mine. It was actually Luke Evans playing Gaston. Sigh.

And what can be said about Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson playing Lumiere and Mrs Potts respectively? A definite match made in animated movie heaven! Same could be similarly commented on Ian McKellan as Cogsworth.

The pitfall comes here… the portrayals of Maurice, Belle’s father, and Lefou, Gaston’s right-hand man. Now this is NOT – and I repeat, NOT – about the actors’ abilities to portray the characters, but their physical appearance. I thought Josh Gad looked too good to be Lefou (and I also keep having these Olaf vibes every time I hear Gad’s voice… is it just me??), and I thought that Gerard Horan (who played Monsieur Jean Potts) looked more like Maurice than Kevin Kline did!

 

Plot: Compare & Contrast

We all know the plot of the story… but just how accurate was the live-action remake to the animated classic? It actually was, surprisingly enough, but there were these 8 differences that I could note:

  1. “There must be more than this provincial life,” sings Belle at the beginning of both movies. The animated villagers couldn’t understand the “most peculiar mademoiselle” because of her affinity for books. Yet the live-action version sees Belle not only feeding her own knowledge, but also opting to share that knowledge with others. The classic opening scene now has those villagers scowling at her for using a makeshift washing machine (remember, this is France in the 1740s) and teaching another young girl how to read.
  2. The live-action movie shares more about the Beast’s life before the curse that transformed him after he refused to be kind to an old woman. Not only is his scathing personality shown to audiences, but the household staff further explain how he came to be so cruel (and how they didn’t try to stop that from happening). Furthermore, it is revealed into further detail that it’s not just the castle that’s enchanted, but also the entire city, leaving everyone to forget that the royal family ever existed (and making sure no one looks for them). Also, a magical woman who is present at the end of the film witnesses the titular characters’ love and reverses the curse.
  3. Director Bill Condon revealed that LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick played by Josh Gad, is gay, making him Disney’s first-ever LGBTQ character. Of this, Cordon explains that, “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” and that “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
  4. Both films see Maurice get lost while riding through the forest and seeking refuge in the Beast’s castle. In the animated version, the Beast walks in on Maurice’s intrusion and therefore imprisons him. But the live-action version has Maurice initially entering and exiting the castle freely, but getting caught red-handed while trying to steal a single rose for Belle — an annual tradition between the father and daughter.
  5. Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Chip have a new friend in the castle: Maestro Cadenza, a musician who is transformed into a large and ornate harpsichord on the first floor. He is married to Wardrobe — now named Madame Garderobe (pictured above) — who is housed in Belle’s room on the second floor. Cadenza and Garderobe are voiced by Stanley Tucci and Audra McDonald, respectively, and their subplot of constant separation has viewers empathizing with characters.
  6. Another new character is Belle’s mother, as the live-action movie explains that she died from the plague when Belle was very young. The reveal occurs when the Beast shows Belle a magical book that lets them travel to anywhere in the world, and she wishes to see her childhood home in Paris with fresh eyes. The two then discover a beak-shaped plague mask, and Belle later reassures Maurice about the truth he was never able to discuss.
  7. In the animated version, Gaston is a goofy egomaniac who pays off Monsieur D’Arque, the head of a local insane asylum, to pronounce Belle’s father insane and lock him away, leaving Belle free to marry Gaston. But D’Arques’ role in the wrongdoing is minimal in the retelling, as Gaston, played by Luke Evans, handles his evil doings against Maurice with his own two hands.
  8. The new movie gives the Beast his musical moment. “It would’ve been perfect to have Beast sing in the animated movie, but we just weren’t able to find that moment in that particular medium,” composer Alan Menken explained. “But on Broadway and in the live-action film, it’s essential that the Beast sing. The Beast is really the protagonist of the story, whose life has changed in the most dramatic way.” The ballad Evermore takes place after the Beast lets Belle go, knowing that doing so means his curse will never be broken. Still, he sings that she remains with him. Josh Groban sings another version on the soundtrack.

 The Final Verdict?

I give this movie 4/5 because of the poor portrayal of Maurice and Lefou, but overall, one of the most enchanting movies of modern times. Of a tale as old as time (pun definitely intended).

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Live-Action Cast VS Animated Characters
Credit to The Hollywood Reporter and Google for information and photos.