Tag: j.k. rowling (Page 1 of 2)

Copyright: © 2016 WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk Caption: (L-r) DAN FOGLER as Jacob, EDDIE REDMAYNE as Newt and KATHERINE WATERSTON as Tina in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

6 ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Themes Found in Harry Potter

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has several things in common with J.K. Rowling’s other wizarding world movies. And I don’t mean wands and Grindewald.

J.K. Rowling wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as an original screenplay, whereas the Harry Potter movies were adapted from her novels. Fantastic Beasts marks her first time writing something original in a completely new format.

The story is about Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who arrived in New York City, sometime in the 1920s or ’30s, to capture a rogue magical creature. While he’s there, the other magical creatures inside his case escaped and caused a good deal of mayhem. He spent the rest of the movie trying to capture them.

Even though this story took place in America, and in a different time period, it had similarities to the Harry Potter story.

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

Like other J.K. Rowling stories, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them started out as a fun and frivolous adventure, but turned dark and deadly before the end. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, her first book, had some danger and death in the story. But the series didn’t delve into truly dark territory until Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book, when Sirius and the Dementors came on the scene.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was pretty grim all-round. To start with, the production design involved almost no color. The sets, costumes and landscape were gray gray gray. That may have been to make the world inside Newt’s case look even livelier, but man, I just wanted someone to turn up the lights!

 Copyright: © 2016 WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk Caption: (L-r) COLIN FARRELL as Graves and EZRA MILLER as Credence in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

COLIN FARRELL as Graves and EZRA MILLER as Credence

The scenes between Graves (Colin Farrell) and Credence (Ezra Miller) were pretty darn creepy. And yes, those were sexual undertones you sensed in those scenes. I interpreted them as Graves being a predator to Credence’s prey. Credence was attracted to more than just getting a pat on the head for a job well done. Remember, Graves turned out to be Grindewald, who was gay. (I’m not saying everyone who is gay is a predator!) I believe there was a intimacy forming between them that made Credence’s pain all the worse when he was betrayed. Dark stuff, indeed.

Can’t Keep a Good Muggle Down

Another common theme in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the Harry Potter books is the unfairness of a class system. Throughout the seven Harry Potter books, Muggles were looked down on by a group of wizards. Then we learned that Pure Bloods looked down on Half-Bloods and Mudbloods, as well. Other magical species, like giants, elves and centaurs, were also oppressed. Although Harry’s story was front and center, the story about Voldemort rising to power and eradicating entire races of beings became the overarching story.

In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, wizards weren’t allowed to be with Muggles. Muggles were considered separate, and possibly lesser. Plus, a hierarchy existed in the American wizarding world, with the Ministry of Magic ranking at the top, like royalty.

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner

Along with the examination of different races and how they treat each other, mixed marriages are also a hot topic in J.K. Rowling’s books. In the Harry Potter books, particularly Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, several characters expressed disgust at the idea of wizards “mating” with Muggles. Voldemort detested his father for being a Muggle. Even poor Dean was on the run because one of his parents was a Muggle. 

 Copyright: © 2016 WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk Caption: (L-r) ALISON SUDOL as Queenie and DAN FOGLER as Jacob in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

ALISON SUDOL as Queenie and DAN FOGLER as Jacob Kowalski

The wizards and witches in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were very clearly prohibited from consorting with Muggles. Of course, that didn’t stop Queenie (Alison Sudol) from falling for Kowalski (Dan Fogler), but they sure had to keep it secret.

Day By Day

I don’t know J.K. Rowling’s personal religious beliefs, but from her books and Fantastic Beasts, I’d wager she’s not crazy about organized religion. Now, I don’t have any evidence from the seven Harry Potter books to point to and say, “See how she hates church?” The only evidence I can submit is that there is a complete lack of religion of any kind. The only kind of worship that’s mentioned was of Voldemort, as well as the Deathly Hallows. Sort of.

Religion wasn’t depicted nicely at all in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Mary Lou (Samantha Morton) used Christianity like a weapon. She claimed to be a God-fearing woman, but she abused the orphans in her care in more ways than one. She lacked compassion completely, for strangers and “loved” ones alike. She wore her self-righteousness like a badge, like armor.

Copyright: © 2016 WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk Caption: SAMANTHA MORTON as Mary Lou Barebone in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

SAMANTHA MORTON as Mary Lou Barebone

Orphans

Speaking of orphans, the loss of parents is a big, big theme for J.K. Rowling. The most obvious reference is Harry Potter, himself. He was orphaned when his parents died at the hands of Voldemort, who was also an orphan. Neville Longbottom may as well have been an orphan, because his parents were locked away in Saint Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Later, after Hermione had to Obliviate her parents before she went on the run, she talked to Harry about how her parents wouldn’t remember her, essentially becoming an orphan.

There’s a whole house full of orphans in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Their care wsn’t top-notch. No doubt this depiction was informed by J.K. Rowling’s own mission to make orphanages better, in countries like Hungary and Romania. She started out using her own money and fame to do something about the cages and malnutrition she found in orphanages she toured. Then she started her own charity, Lumos.

Heil

Another theme in J.K. Rowling’s work is that ol’ chestnut “with great power comes great responsibility.” She depicts people with power going out of control. In the Harry Potter books, Minister Fudge was very reluctant to give up his position. His delay in acting against Voldemort was one of the reasons the Dark Lord was able to gain a foothold in the wizarding world. Plus, Voldemort was the ultimate in out-of-control power.

 Copyright: © 2016 WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Caption: CARMEN EJOGO as Seraphina Picquery in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

CARMEN EJOGO as Seraphina Picquery

Graves, in Fantastic Beasts, was out of control too. He worked independently from the very Ministry of which he’s part. He abused his power in his attempt to get even more power. And while Minister Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo) wasn’t a dictator, she was quick to jump to unfair conclusions about Newt and his friends.

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You might be a Slytherin if...

You Might Be a Slytherin If… (Modern Day)

As most Harry Potter fans know, the Slytherin House has produced successful wizards, as well as evil ones. My friends who were sorted in Slytherin on Pottermore don’t feel bad about it at all. (That, in itself, proves they’re Slytherin through and through!) But if you’re a Muggle, living in modern times, what does it mean to be a Slytherin? Well, you might be a Slytherin if you’ve ever done any of these things.

 

via GIPHY

 

You wait until the movie starts to unwrap your candy, very slowly.

We’re looking at you, Grandma Black!

You place your Starbucks order on your mobile app while you’re sitting in the store, so your order is ready before all the people standing in line.

You shouldn’t keep Andromeda Tonks waiting.

You pretend to be your co-worker’s friend, then convince them to car pool with you, so you can use the car pool lane.

This has Pansy Parkinson written all over it.

You don’t want to pay for a New York Times subscription, so when you hit your limit of free articles, you clear your browser’s cache and keep reading.

Gregory Goyle would totally do this, if he could figure it out.

You use sign in and use someone else’s Netflix account. Ditto Amazon Prime.

Voldemort would force that weak Lucius Malfoy to cough up his passwords.

 

via GIPHY

 

You buy Starbucks Via for the bonus star codes. Then re-package the coffee and resell it — sans star codes — at a higher price.

We don’t know into which house Mundungus Fletcher was sorted, but this has his sticky fingers all over it.

You let co-workers share your Dropbox account so you can steal their ideas and presentations.

As if Draco Malfoy could come up with an original thought on his own.

You reserve three tables through OpenTable every Saturday night, wait until the last minute to decide where to go, and don’t even bother to cancel the other two.

Nor do you care when they email you shirty reminders.

You don’t believe in spoilers. After you see a TV show or movie, you tell everyone what happens, no matter what.

And if you’re Bellatrix Lestrange, you do it loudly.

When someone shakes your hand, you don’t even wait until they walk away before using hand sanitizer.

Snape would throw in some side eye.

 

via GIPHY

 

You volunteered to be Vice President of the PTO for the attention, knowing the VP has no real responsibility. But the following year, when it was time to step up to President, you begged off for “an illness in the family,” for
the sympathy.

What a Professor Slughorn kind of move, am I right?

You signed up for the latest 5K because of the cool moisture-wicking shirt. Rather than run the race, you secretly slipped your chip onto last year’s winner’s laces while they were in the can, they called it a tie and you snagged a medal too.

Just like Draco snatching Neville’s Remembrall from him.

You just flat out refuse to recycle.

Phineas Nigellus Black has a giant pile of butterbeer cans and pumpkin juice bottles in his neighbor’s back garden.

You downloaded a bunch of songs and apps, but decided you didn’t like them. You filled out a report on iTunes saying they were downloaded to your account illegally to get your money back.

Blaise Zabini gets down to Pharrell’s “Happy,” but doesn’t want anyone to know.

You use the express check out lane when you clearly have more than “about 6 items.”

Oh, Narcissa, who’s going to eat all those pumpkin pasties now that Draco’s grown and gone?

After Christmas, when you have too much trash and would usually incur an extra fee, you get up in the middle of the night and spread the trash around to each of your neighbor’s bins.

Or you make your house elf do it for you. Yeah, that’s what you do.

You carry a cane, just to get the sweet seats on the subway or bus.

Lucius Malfoy has been doing this stylishly for decades.

You visit interior decorating stores, snap pics and post them on Instagram as if they were your home.

Pansy is simply addicted to Decorating Cents on HGTV.

You bought tickets to Hamilton. And didn’t go. And didn’t give the tickets to anyone else.

Only Lord Voldemort himself would do something so evil! Shame!

via GIPHY

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'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the London play by author J.K. Rowling, has fans frothing at the mouth. But, what if you can’t get tickets to the Harry Potter plays? (Yes, there are two.) Read the book!

About the Play(s)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a story about Harry’s son Albus, whom we met at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (He was the little guy who was afraid of being sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor at Hogwarts.) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be spread across two plays, that will be performed in London. The premiere of the play in London’s West End will be on 30th July 2016. Both plays are also being published as a book. Scholastic released the book on July 31, 2016.

Synopsis

Being Harry Potter was always difficult. Now, it isn’t much easier. He is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.


Think Geek

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son, Albus, struggles with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

Review by Mike Martin Brown

Phony Beatlemania has topped the charts. Beware of mild spoilers and plot description.

Prophecies! He who must not be named! Hagrid! The Whomping Willow! A love-lorn Severus Snape! A painful scar! Sounds like Harry Potter is back in town! J.K. Rowing said it would never happen, that she had ended the Harry Potter story with her seven classic novels. But now we have a play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! So how is it? It’s fine, wonderful, lame, heart-rending, maddening but overall, I’m just going to say, lacking. But I’m glad I read it. You a Harry Potter fan? Read this book.

There’s a Star Trek Deep Space Nine where, through the magic of computers, the DS9 crew travels back in time and enters the Star Trek Original Series episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” It’s a good episode and a lot of fun, with DS9 characters peeking out from around corners at the familiar action from the popular old episode.

Although I’m sure there are people who would strenuously disagree with what I’m about to say, “Tribbles” is not nearly as good as anything in the Harry Potter canon. And we’ve just got a new addition to said series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The book is sort of like that long-ago DS9 episode, new characters peeking around corners at Goblet of Fire. Well, we also get to see a few alternate dimensions where the death eaters are in power or poor Hermione can’t even land Ron. But for the most part, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a clip show of some fun Harry Potter moments from the last few seasons, a Friends Thanksgiving episode.

Jamie Parker as Harry Potter; Photo by Manuel Harlan

Jamie Parker as Harry Potter; Photo by Manuel Harlan

Before I go on, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play.

I can only review Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a reader. I haven’t seen the play. I’m not going to be able to see the play in the foreseeable future. But I could read it. And so I did. I wish I could see the play. I’m certain it’s great, at lease from a spectacle and bombast perspective.

The first thing that jumped out at me when I was reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is that I wondered if this was something that was taken to J.K. Rowling’s people, not something that JK envisioned and took to the playwrights. Because there are moments from the books, time traveling flashbacks, dream sequences, containing moments that JK wrote. Were those moments enough authorship to get her name in the largest font on the cover? How much of the rest of this did she have anything to do with? It’s more of a retread than an original story, a “What if?” story, like all those Twilight Zones where the Nazis won World War II, except it’s Voldemort succeeding in killing Harry Potter, mostly. If someone was able to sell Rowling on this idea, could others be around the corner?

Did you know that a lot of countries have a bootleg Harry Potter?

Russia has Tonya Grotter, for instance. I know some Russian kids grew up with her and swear she’s better than Harry Potter. Without having read any of the Tonya Grotter novels— which I’m pretty sure will never be translated into English because of international copyright laws— I feel like I can safely say that the Potter books are far superior. But I found myself wondering as I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was this what it was like to read a Grotter novel, to be a Grotter fan? Peaking though the fence slats at something better, but never quite able to get there?

(L-R) Alex Price (Draco Malfoy), Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley), Norma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger), Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), and Poppy Miller (Ginny Potter); Photo by Manuel Harlan

(L-R) Alex Price (Draco Malfoy), Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley), Norma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger), Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), and Poppy Miller (Ginny Potter); Photo by Manuel Harlan

There are moments in the play that readers craved in the books.

Prayed for. Like, Snape acknowledging that Harry was brave, being proud that Harry’s son is named for him, which were moments that Snape couldn’t have. Snape’s arc in the novels was perfect, showing that you don’t have to be a friendly person to do the right thing. And Severus Snape was never going to apologize for who he was. The Snape in this play is more of a cuddle monster than he should be, gruff, but lovable, easily moved to tears. I knew Severus Snape and you, Sir, are not him. In other words, not all of the characters seem like themselves.

So what’s the play about? Harry’s middle child, Albus, is in Slytherin and best friends with Draco’s boy, Scorpius. Neither of their dads are thrilled about it. But Albus is not thrilled with his dad either, the boy who lived is a difficult legacy to live up to and Albus wants to be himself, practically a squib, not just the son of Harry Potter. So when Harry refuses Cedric Diggory’s father, who wants Harry to go back in time and save Cedric, Albus is moved by Amos Diggory’s plight and decides that he and Scorpius will go back in time and make things right, if only just a little bit. Albus might be a little into Amos’s niece, Delphini, as well. Well, butterfly effect, things don’t go as planned, alternate reality. But we get to check in with most of the poplar characters and places in the Harry Potter franchise. Hello, Delores Umbridge!

Also, Hello, Lord Voldemort.

This might sound crazy, but I didn’t want a Voldemort connection in this new story. Voldemort has seven dense novels to have his moment and bringing him back here did nothing at all to further the story of Tom Riddle, the once and future Lord Voldemort. Not every villain needs to be the ultimate villain and I, for once, would have been all right with someone who wasn’t the greatest dark wizard who ever trod the Earth. And Voldemort is not the bad guy exactly, but his shadow falls across many of the more interesting moments in the story. The play uses our pre-existing knowledge of Voldemort to create tension without actually earning it. Expect a lot of fan fiction about the alternate realities. But really, none of them were nearly as interesting as what actually happened in the novels.

Albus and Scorpius are not only the main characters, but the most interesting characters in the story.

And Ron, Hermione and Harry are in the story. Albus and Scorpius are complex and have arcs, if only to accentuate the idea that parenting is a lot more difficult than saving the world from Voldemort. I liked the boys and would be interested in reading a novel about them. But in the world of reading a play, I wish there was more to their story. Reading a Harry Potter novel is to be completely immersed in the wizarding world, what they eat, what they do with their time, what’s fun, what’s not, what are their interests, everything. But in the play, we get snapshots of what makes them interesting. I’m certainly not saying that plays can’t be deep, but this particular one doesn’t really flesh the boys out as much as J.K.’s Harry Potter novels did for the lives of our original three heroes.

One aspect of this play that can never be overestimated is that it’s Harry Potter.

Harry Potter! The idea of new Potter adventures is very exciting and carries with it a cultural cache, it gives the lightest moments in the play a heft because of that which has come before. This cache can be quickly overused and Potter will become something different than what he now represents. So that is a warning to J.K. Rowling in her use of the man himself. But this is the first time and it works. The Harry Potter scratch was itched. Sure, there were none of the great moments of the novels, but there were good moments. It’s worth reading, which I feel like I should stress amidst all this criticism.

I started this review talking about a half-remembered TV show, Deep Space 9.

And that’s what this new Harry Potter feels like, forgettable, not bad, not great, pretty good maybe, but with none of the moments that made the original series so great. Instead of decisions and consequences, we get an apocalyptic future that may happen, all of the books undone by a bad guy that, frankly, isn’t all that powerful or smart, which means that the book isn’t clever. If this was an episode of a pretty good TV show, yeah, it would be great. But as a reader, I was left thinking that this wasn’t a new Harry Potter story to stand tall beside the books. I’m not even sure how much of it Rowling actually wrote. My guess is, not much, maybe none of it.

Cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Photo by Manuel Harlan

Cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Photo by Manuel Harlan

I bet it would be a lot of fun to see the play though. It’s probably amazing, but more like a superhero movie than the Harry Potter series. Feel good, cheer-worthy moments are not bad, but it’s not what the Potter series was built around. If you’re a Potter fan already, read it. And hell, if you’re not, see the play if you can. I bet it will be great. But I doubt in twenty years that children will be reading this. In fifty, it probably won’t be remembered. And I know this is sort of grandiose, but in 10,000 years, I think people will still be reading the original seven books.

Joe Strummer said in London Calling that “Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust.”

A lot of that song’s lyrics are murky in their specifics for me, but I’ve always assumed he meant the Beatle lookalikes that toured for a while in the ‘70s, playing Beatles songs for people who would never hear the actual Fab Four in concert. Did those concerts scratch the itch? I know people slept out for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, re-creating part of the fun of the original seven books. I know that the book is breaking sales records everywhere. But is this just Beatlemania? Sadly, I must say, yes. Sure, it’s a reasonable simulacrum, but the one thing no one has ever been able to match is the magic of the McCartney/Lennon harmonies or whatever the hell it was that made the Harry Potter books so amazing.

So, read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Scratch the itch. But don’t expect to be thinking about it in ten years.

P.S. J.K. Rowling says, “This is it! The last Harry Potter story!” She said that last time too. I, for one, would welcome any time Rowling decides to return to her classic creation.

P.P.S. I think the Butterfly effect is poetic, right? If we killed all the butterflies in Asia would we have less hurricanes? I propose an experiment!


Muggle Mob

More than 300 Harry Potter fans formed a massive flash mob, or “Muggle Mob” on July 21, 2016. They took over Broadway in front of the Scholastic headquarters building in New York City, just 10 days before the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II. The fans, who were Scholastic employees and their children, flooded onto the street, reading from a favorite Harry Potter book. They stopped traffic in the busy SoHo area.

At the culmination of the estimated two-and-a-half minute event, the fans lowered their books and raised up paddles showing the cover of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II. As the crowd dispersed, “Muggle Mob” participants handed out their Harry Potter books from the Harry Potter series to very lucky passersby.

In a press release, Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade, said, “Scholastic introduced Harry Potter to readers of all ages nearly 20 years ago. What better way to celebrate the release of the eighth story and start the countdown to the biggest publishing event of the summer than to gather a flash mob of dedicated Harry Potter fans eager to share their love of books and reading.” She continued, “We could feel the excitement and anticipation as hundreds of people were reading and one of the busiest streets in Manhattan came to a standstill. It was an incredible moment and we can’t wait until July 31st!”

Muggle Mob Photos

Thanks to Scholastic Media for sharing their photos from the Muggle Mob.

 

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