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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child- Just when I thought I was out...

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

"JJ Abrams takes on Harry Potter" 

 

 

 

 

So, this opened on Sunday as a stage production, but the script was released in book form same day... I'm placing this here because it's a seamless continuation of the Potter franchise, but if the mods think this should be moved to Books or elsewhere I'm game.

 

 

Basically, I loved this, though due to being a stage production it surprisingly plays more than a little like "JJ Abrams takes on Harry Potter."  What I mean by that is that while it's definitely a sequel, it carries the hallmarks of a JJ production in a number of ways:

 

- Plot contrivances that allow for nostalgic or previously beloved characters and scenes to be invoked again 

- Rapid transitions between critical events (a consequence of being written for Stage)

- Excellent character work that makes up for both of the above

 

While that sounds like a huge knock against it, I'll say again - I really loved this (going off of the script only), and getting to spend time in that world with these characters again was like seeing old friends.   

 

 

From here on I'll be lightly delving into spoilers, so fair warning - Nothing critical and nothing involving plot specifics or anything related to the ending, but to talk about what worked and what didn't I need to speak a little about the central Mcguffin that allows the story to take place.

 

While Harry, Hermoine, Ron, Ginny and Draco all get decent page time, our protagonists are Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy.  And if you'd told me a year ago that my new favorite Potter character was going to be named Scorpius "Scorpion King" Malfoy, I would have told you to fuck right the hell off.  Scorpius is delightful, and the best person out of the lot.  I mean that - he's the nicest character, written like a jovial mix of Ron's good nature and Hermoine's geeky smarts.  Draco raised a good egg.  

 

Albus is a bit of a tortured soul, in the way that all kids feel tortured at one time or another.  Remember how you wanted to strangle Harry and Ron for basically all of the 4th book/film, and most of the 5th?  Well, you'll feel those urges again for about half of this story with Albus.  There's an event that takes place almost immediately post-Deathly Hallows Epilogue that I won't spoil, but affects him deeply and contributes to a rocky father/son relationship.

 

Come to think of it, you'll also want to strangle Harry for about half the story (or more) as well.  Mostly taking place 22 years after the end of Deathly Hallows (Albus and Scorpius are 14 for most of their adventure) Harry hasn't figured out this whole fatherhood thing when it comes to his middle child, and you'll remember what a jerk he was when he was a kid (moreso in the books than the films, they wisely toned it down in the translation to screen but in the books I remember wanting Voldemort to just be done with him more than once).  

 

On the flip side, Hermoine is wonderfully herself, Ron is jovial but uselessish, but Draco is the one who gets to shine a bit.  All of the character growth you were hoping might happen to Draco in a post-Voldemort world we actually get shown here, and it's fantastic.  A completely pleasant surprise.  

 

The central adventure relies on the use of a Time Turner, which serves a few purposes:  Our young protagonists get to go back in time and view their parents at critical moments from the earlier books (there's that JJ-nostalgia), and promptly proceed to fuck things up.  This in turn allows for some alternate futures to be visited on their quest to put things right, which means some previously deceased characters get to have another moment in the sun (there's that JJ "it's delightful!"-ness).   While normally this would have annoyed the heck out of me, any excuse to see Severus Snape in action again is worth the sacrifice.  

 

* If you had any doubt about who the true hero of the Potter series was, hopefully Cursed Child will lay that to rest.  And due to the Timey Wimey weirdness, we get to see Snape as we really haven't ever before, however brief.  

 

In the end, Cursed Child introduced us to a pair of wonderful new characters in Albus and Scorpius, and I'd gladly follow their adventures for years to come, provided Harry took an even more diminished role.  I will say that I fervently hope they can resist turning this into a film and that it continues to live only on Stage and Page - as a play I expect this is completely delightful.  As a film we'd be laying into it like the script for Trek 2009.   


Edited by Analog Olmos - 8/1/16 at 3:43pm
post #2 of 26
So when does WB announce the movie version? Or will they wait a decade for the cast to age?
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by User_32 View Post

So when does WB announce the movie version? Or will they wait a decade for the cast to age?


Waiting for them all to age naturally may be the ONLY way I'd be on board with it.  And then only if they give the scriptwriting duties to a master - this script will work for the stage, but on screen runs the risk of playing like pure nostalgia porn without some beefing up of the themes and supporting characters.  

post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Nobody else has read or seen this???? Yer killin me folks.
post #5 of 26
I'll probably wait for the movie.
post #6 of 26
Frantically trying to avoid spoilers as we're trying to get to see it before reading the book. New tickets are going on sale on Thursday for next year.

The film version is surely inevitable?
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike's Pants View Post

Frantically trying to avoid spoilers as we're trying to get to see it before reading the book. New tickets are going on sale on Thursday for next year.

The film version is surely inevitable?

I truly and deeply hope not, because we'll rip it apart. All of the cheats for Stage combined with the brevity of the story and heavy lean into nostalgia meets "Harry's Greatest Hits From the Last 7 Books" means it truly would feel like a JJ Abrams film.
post #8 of 26
So the book isn't written in prose? It's formatted like a play?
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradito View Post

So the book isn't written in prose? It's formatted like a play?

Correct, with stage transitions and front stage/back stage annotation.
post #10 of 26
It's a full-on play. No prose.

I was quite let down by this. Maybe with an amazing cast and top notch production values, it sings. But what's on the page is, as has been said throughout the Internet, eerily close to fan fiction.

And some of the new characters have truly ridiculous names.

Agreed that Malfoy (and his clan) are the highlight.

But this was just painfully unnecessary. It sheds no light on the events that preceded it and adds nothing to them either.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrevellozo View Post

It's a full-on play. No prose.

I was quite let down by this. Maybe with an amazing cast and top notch production values, it sings. But what's on the page is, as has been said throughout the Internet, eerily close to fan fiction.

And some of the new characters have truly ridiculous names.

Agreed that Malfoy (and his clan) are the highlight.

But this was just painfully unnecessary. It sheds no light on the events that preceded it and adds nothing to them either.

I think it's worth it to see Draco's growth and be introduced to Scorpius, who steals the show IMO, I just wish it'd been a straight-up new adventure with the 2 of them rather than JJing it up with the list of Potter's Greatest Hits.

I was 100% on board with everything up through the train disembark, and in retrospect I think I could even get on board with a Time Turner adventure if it was 100% focused on stopping the bad guys from creating this dark alternate timeline. In reality we spent all of 5 minutes in that timeline before it was undone, and the mission instead was focused on Cedric, someone you could never convince me Albus would give 2 shakes about no matter how cross he was with his dad.

Imagine that - dark wizard makes a "special" time turner and one day everyone just wakes up to this dark alternate timeline. Albus and Scorpius are the only 2 who know something's gone wrong because they were off making mischief and the room of requirement/invisibility cloak/whatever they were in at the moment protected them, and so they have to set things right. I'd have swallowed that a lot easier than this visit to the Hollow, Quiddich, and the Triwizard Tournament again.
post #12 of 26
It went so far down the technical rabbit hole the device presents, it ended up smothering the drama.

I really couldn't care less about the motivations and/or arcs of 99% of the people in the narrative.
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrevellozo View Post

It went so far down the technical rabbit hole the device presents, it ended up smothering the drama.

I really couldn't care less about the motivations and/or arcs of 99% of the people in the narrative.

For me it was the rehashing of scenes - revisiting all 3 challenges from Book 4 was, well, boring. Yeah it's from a different vantage point but you're still in the same place watching the same stuff happen. The 5 minutes spent in the Mirror Universe was infinitely more interesting than all the scenes taking place in the past combined.

I do think it's likely this was done because this was specifically being written for stage, and one of the goals felt like "put classic Harry Potter scenes in a theatre setting." If this had been written as a sequel to the books first and foremost instead of "Stage Version Harry Potter... But it's a sequel!" then I think it would have been different... As it is I'm hoping against hope that they stick to their guns and this never becomes a film, unless they piss off fans and do a massive departure.
post #14 of 26
True. I guess Book 4 IS the most important book, plot-wise; it's the one in which Voldemort comes back, after all. It's also the last one to be released before the movies, which means it's the one that introduced audiences (myself included; I've read "Goblet..." more times than any other book in my life) to the story.

Add that to the massive nerd stench brought about by the lack of mention of Time Turners being given a MASSIVE overcompensation, and the narrative just loses strength. The conflicts are forced and the complications are contrived.

Worst of all, there is no originality to it.
post #15 of 26
If the show comes to L.A., I'll probably see it. I just don't like reading plays. Well, maybe it'd be fun if I read it out loud and did a variety of British accents.
post #16 of 26

The thing that surprised me was that, going off Azkaban, I didn't think Time Turners functioned like they do here at all. In that one, it's essentially a closed loop situation - the timeline didn't change, it just needed time travel to make what had always happened happen. Here, it's alternate reality craziness.

 

Also, this is totally the Back to the Future II of the Potter series, isn't it?

post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dent6084 View Post

The thing that surprised me was that, going off Azkaban, I didn't think Time Turners functioned like they do here at all. In that one, it's essentially a closed loop situation - the timeline didn't change, it just needed time travel to make what had always happened happen. Here, it's alternate reality craziness.

Also, this is totally the Back to the Future II of the Potter series, isn't it?

That's an apt comparison. To the Time Turners, maybe I'm forgetting but didn't Azkaban kind of play it both ways? Like, the timeline ended up a closed loop but first time through didn't they witness the hippogryph get beheaded?

I'm just going to take this opportunity to say the only story to nail time travel completely is To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. If you haven't read it, welcome to your new favorite book. Puts a grin on my face every time I read it.
post #18 of 26
No they actually didn't witness it. They just thought they did when really the executioner was striking the ground (or a pumpkin...I can't quite remember which) out of frustration because the hyppogryph had gotten away..
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

No they actually didn't witness it. They just thought they did when really the executioner was striking the ground (or a pumpkin...I can't quite remember which) out of frustration because the hyppogryph had gotten away..


Yeah, they just hear the executioner hitting the pumpkin/ground, and think he's killed Buckbeak.

post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraid uh noman View Post

No they actually didn't witness it. They just thought they did when really the executioner was striking the ground (or a pumpkin...I can't quite remember which) out of frustration because the hyppogryph had gotten away..

Ah right, it's been a while, thanks. This is definitely different then. Might be enough to toss it up to "these are 'special' time turners" but some kind of explanation should be made since that's a pretty big departure.
post #21 of 26

I just spent an afternoon plowing through this, and I’d say I enjoyed it overall, but it’s a completely non-essential expansion of the Harry Potter world.

 

What’s good?

- The friendship between Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy is packed with genuine emotion, and is actually quite moving.  The idea of these two lonely, somewhat socially awkward boys trying to escape from the shadows of their fathers’ reputations is beautifully handled.

- It’s often quite funny.

- The returning characters from the novels (particularly Harry and Draco) feel very much like the sort of people their teenage counterparts would grow into.  It’s so nice to spend a solid amount of time with adult Draco and really get a sense of how the events of the novels shaped him.

 

What’s not so good?

- There’s a lot of fan-service going on in it.  Lots of beloved characters pop up for extended cameos at various points, and not all of them feel wholly organic to the story being told.

- The passage of time is often awkwardly handled.  I know that’s symptomatic of this tale being told on the stage, but it’s sometimes unclear how much time passes between certain scenes.  In a story that hinges on the passage of time (in some ways), that's a bit of an issue.

- The central conceit/mystery surrounding the story’s villain is, honestly, kind of lame, and totally unsupported by any evidence from the novels; in fact, I think an argument could be made that the novels kind of contradict (through omission) this villain's backstory.

 

Some spoilerific thoughts...

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

- As Dent6084 correctly stated, the midsection of the story is very BACK TO THE FUTURE PART 2.  That’s not a criticism, but the comparisons are certainly there, from the father dead in the dark alternate timeline (George McFly/Harry Potter), to the villain running the show (Biff Tannen/Voldemort), to the idea of revisiting iconic moments of the past from new perspectives (the Enchantment Under the Sea dance/the TriWizard Tournament).  I do think the mechanics of the time travel don’t fully work, and the various plans of Albus and Scorpius seem to be pulled off in too-easy a way, for the most part, but I cut the thing some slack given that it's a stage production.

- I was DEEPLY  concerned when I heard that Snape was going to be showing up, as I felt that would run the risk of tampering with the most affecting character journey of the novels, but he’s well-used here, and his brief moments pack an emotional punch.  Having him learn that - in the proper timeline - Harry named his son after him was a lovely beat.  His selfless willingness to help reset the timeline, even knowing that it means he will no longer exist, is both perfectly in character for him and also kind of a nice STAR TREK-y sort of element.


All in all, it was an enjoyable read, and though it doesn't come close to having the depth of the books, it was nice to slip back into that world again, even if only in a small way.

 

 

Frankly, I hope they never attempt to turn this into a movie.  The main appeal of such a thing would be seeing the proverbial band back together, and I don’t think you’d get the same sort of, well, magic if you had to recast, which - for a variety of reasons - would probably be necessary for at least some of the major roles (there's likely no way Emma Watson would ever come back, given that she flirted with not even completing the original set of movies, and Daniel Radcliffe has been - at best - ambivalent about the notion of ever coming back), and certainly required for at least one of the major cameo appearances.


Edited by Belloq87 - 8/4/16 at 4:59pm
post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post

I just spent an afternoon plowing through this, and I’d say I enjoyed it overall, but it’s a completely non-essential expansion of the Harry Potter world.

What’s good?
- The friendship between Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy is packed with genuine emotion, and is actually quite moving.  The idea of these two lonely, somewhat socially awkward boys trying to escape from the shadows of their fathers’ reputations is beautifully handled.
- It’s often quite funny.
- The returning characters from the novels (particularly Harry and Draco) feel very much like the sort of people their teenage counterparts would grow into.  It’s so nice to spend a solid amount of time with adult Draco and really get a sense of how the events of the novels shaped him.

What’s not so good?
- There’s a lot of fan-service going on in it.  Lots of beloved characters pop up for extended cameos at various points, and not all of them feel wholly organic to the story being told.
- The passage of time is often awkwardly handled.  I know that’s symptomatic of this tale being told on the stage, but it’s sometimes unclear how much time passes between certain scenes.  In a story that hinges on the passage of time (in some ways), that's a bit of an issue.
- The central conceit/mystery surrounding the story’s villain is, honestly, kind of lame, and totally unsupported by any evidence from the novels; in fact, I think an argument could be made that the novels kind of contradict (through omission) this villain's backstory.

Some spoilerific thoughts... Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
- As Dent6084 correctly stated, the midsection of the story is very BACK TO THE FUTURE PART 2.  That’s not a criticism, but the comparisons are certainly there, from the father dead in the dark alternate timeline (George McFly/Harry Potter), to the villain running the show (Biff Tannen/Voldemort), to the idea of revisiting iconic moments of the past from new perspectives (the Enchantment Under the Sea dance/the TriWizard Tournament).  I do think the mechanics of the time travel don’t fully work, and the various plans of Albus and Scorpius seem to be pulled off in too-easy a way, for the most part, but I cut the thing some slack given that it's a stage production.
- I was DEEPLY  concerned when I heard that Snape was going to be showing up, as I felt that would run the risk of tampering with the most affecting character journey of the novels, but he’s well-used here, and his brief moments pack an emotional punch.  Having him learn that - in the proper timeline - Harry named his son after him was a lovely beat.  His selfless willingness to help reset the timeline, even knowing that it means he will no longer exist, is both perfectly in character for him and also kind of a nice STAR TREK-y sort of element.


All in all, it was an enjoyable read, and though it doesn't come close to having the depth of the books, it was nice to slip back into that world again, even if only in a small way.


Frankly, I hope they never attempt to turn this into a movie.  The main appeal of such a thing would be seeing the proverbial band back together, and I don’t think you’d get the same sort of, well, magic if you had to recast, which - for a variety of reasons - would probably be necessary for at least some of the major roles (there's likely no way Emma Watson would ever come back, given that she flirted with not even completing the original set of movies, and Daniel Radcliffe has been - at best - ambivalent about the notion of ever coming back), and certainly required for at least one of the major cameo appearances.

Wonderfully said. And to your last point, with the passing of Alan Rickman, any screen adaptation would be robbed of the most affecting emotional beat in the story.

Of course if they wait 20 years to film this and use Watson, Grint and Radcliffe again, by that time we might be able to CGI up a virtual Rickman, so who knows.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Analog Olmos View Post


Wonderfully said. And to your last point, with the passing of Alan Rickman, any screen adaptation would be robbed of the most affecting emotional beat in the story.

Of course if they wait 20 years to film this and use Watson, Grint and Radcliffe again, by that time we might be able to CGI up a virtual Rickman, so who knows.

Definitely.  I've got absolutely no interest in seeing a non-Rickman Snape, especially when this incarnation of the character is so fundamentally tied to what we know about the character's past and fate.  It's not like it's just "Another episodic adventure with Severus Snape!" or something.  You could almost get away with recasting in a situation like that, but not for this one.

post #24 of 26

Apologies for the bump, but the more I think about this play's villain, the more perplexed and upset I become!
 

Warning: Spoiler (Click to show)
My vision of Voldemort is a totally asexual being, one who tolerated Bellatrix’s infatuation with him because it made him feel powerful.  The idea of them actually engaging in a physical, sexual relationship is, frankly, too human a thing for him.  Did Voldemort intend to have a child?  If so, why, and how does that square with what we know of the character, a character who has literally never felt the emotion of love and who murdered his immediate relatives?  Did Bellatrix somehow conceive the child against his wishes?  If so, why would Voldemort allow her to have the child?  It’s all a mess, and a pretty preposterous mess, at that.  

Also, though Bellatrix makes several (physically active) appearances in HALF-BLOOD PRINCE and DEATHLY HALLOWS, it is never once intimated that she might be pregnant.  It is also said that she gave birth immediately before the Battle of Hogwarts at Malfoy Manor… where Draco was.  Would not he have known?  Would Bellatrix not have told her sister - Draco’s mother - with enormous pride that she was carrying Voldemort’s heir?

The whole character of Delphi feels like a needlessly self-inflicted wound.  You could have still achieved all the cathartic emotional and thematic moments, and still done all the time travel shenanigans, without needing an overtly evil villain pulling the strings.

 

 

post #25 of 26
I will wait for the audiobook!
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

I will wait for the audiobook!

Not this debate again!!!

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