It is nearly four months too late, but I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I wish this was a bigger achievement – I really should have finished it the day the book was handed to me instead of waiting this long. But I am the living, breathing definition of a procrastinator, so the fact that I actually read it at all is a miracle in itself.
And this is where the spoilers come, so for the one or two people who are still waiting to read it, take two and a half hours and just finish it. It’s a script that is filled with more actions and stage directions than it is dialogue, so it should not take you long to breeze through it.
I have not read too many reactions to the script, but for me, I found it to be just okay.
On one hand, the words invoked a ludicrous amount of nostalgia (there’s that dangerous word again!) – to the point where I was basically humming the films’ theme music during Harry’s final conversation with his son Albus while they casually hang out at Cedric Diggory’s grave. I just re-read that sentence, and it does not sound any less ridiculous. On that same token, I can only begin to imagine how incredible it would be to watch a live performance of this two-part play. If what happens on that stage even vaguely matches what is described in the book, then it must be positively magical to see in the flesh.
So hopefully there will be a trip to the UK in my future.
But the actual content of the story… well, that is a bit mediocre. I can live with Harry Potter being a terrible father to one child, and basically neglecting and ignoring his other two kids because he’s too busy at work. It’s not like any of his positive male role models stayed alive long enough to show him how to be a good father. I can live with Ginny still being underutilized beyond a terrific discussion harking back to her crucial role in Chamber of Secrets (but still no mention of how she carried three children to term but seemingly had zero say in naming any of them). And I can live with Ron still being the outlandish comic relief and Hermione being the best at everything (although her brief stint as a Most Wanted fugitive was pretty intriguing).
But the core story revolving around revising and reliving the past felt stale and uninspired. The rift on The Butterfly Effect got old quickly and the plotting around everything that’s changed felt more rushed than it did fleshed out. I liked the relationship between Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy and how it drastically changes things for frenemies Harry and Draco. The play’s greatest strength is in the relationship between the two budding Hogwarts students, but their pivotal relationship is basically done away with before the final act.
And really, after all this time, the best they could come up with for the big bad is the daughter of Voldemort? That just feels like a cop out, and more of a first draft kind of idea. Surely J.K. Rowling could have cooked up a decent-sized villain to haunt our characters’ futures, and not reuse one that wrought havoc on their pasts. Even worse – everyone who dies in one variation of the future, does not stay dead (except for Snape, whose appearance serves more as fan service than it does actually serve the plot). There are no real sacrifices, no real losses, and at the end of it all, Harry is still a father in progress.
And of course, the villainous Delphi is left alive just in case they want to use her and the half cooked Augury explanation for any sequels.
It just feels all too convenient and I fail to see why Harry Potter and the Cursed Child even exists. It does not extend or enhance the storyline like The Force Awakens did for Star Wars, and spends too much of its time consumed by past events in the series – specifically obsessing over the Triwizard Tournament from the spectacular Goblet of Fire. It makes for a clever idea as a play, but it will not make for much of anything when the inevitable film adaptation comes after the fifth iteration of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them circa 2025. And knowing WB, they will likely turn each of the play’s four acts into their own film and blatantly extend them to 3 hour running times. This is the company that turned The Hobbit into three films after all (and then had the audacity to release Extended Editions for each!).
I know I sound bitter, but I was just hoping for something with more teeth and grit than the sanitized play we got. Rowling was ballsy enough to kill off major characters from books four to seven, so why was she too scared to do the same here? What’s the point of extending out the mythos, if the only character who actually develops is Draco Malfoy? It is not like the franchise is dead – I just got back from Orlando and can tell you first hand that the legend of Harry Potter is alive, well and churning out buckets of money by the second at Universal Studios.
While we continue to try and figure out the needless point of it all, I would be remiss to not mention Josh Trank again, as he is apparently putting together a film called Fonzo as I write this. It centres on the last days of legendary gangster Al Capone and will star the always reliable Tom Hardy. So yay for Trank emerging from the darkness. Let’s hope he learned his lessons and will know better than to pick a fight with his lead. I doubt he would recover from a broken back the same way Bruce Wayne did.
Recommendation of the Week: Edge of Tomorrow, the absolutely awesome Tom Cruise sci-fi genre mash-up from 2014. It did not exactly light up theater screens (likely because of its atrocious title), but with a sequel on the way, now is the perfect time to catch up on this future classic. The film is equal parts war film, action thriller, comedy, and pure unadulterated science fiction – and it packs an added stylish flair courtesy of director Doug Liman. That’s not to mention supporting turns from Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton and Cruise’s ass-kicking Valkyrie of a co-star, Emily Blunt. I was lucky enough to catch the film at a screening introduced by Cruise and have been praising it to anyone who would listen ever since. The only thing you will regret from watching it now is not watching it sooner.