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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition Script)

 There are two types of people in the world: fans of Harry Potter and everyone else. Me, I’m a fan of Harry Potter. A part of my life ended back in 2007 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released and the series ended. But then J.K. Rowling announced that she would continue the story onstage in a play. She also realized that not everyone would be able to see the production so she released the script in book form as well, bless her soul. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition Script) was released on July 31, 2016 and the Harry Potter nerds suddenly had a new story to lose their shit over. 

I kind of slacked off and forgot to preorder a paper copy, but I bought the e-book version and read the entire thing on my iPhone in a couple of hours. It’s mostly dialogue with a little bit of stage direction so it’s a much faster read than the later books in the series. It was written by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany and based on a story by J.K. Rowling. The story starts in the epilogue of the Deathly Hallows with an older Harry sending his sons James and Albus off to Hogwarts. I don’t want to say too much else. Spoilers aren’t fun. And you should be friending to read it for yourself so I won’t give anything major away. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are important characters, but the plot revolves around Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy (Draco’s son). They are the next generation of wizards and they are trying to escape the shadow of their fathers. 

 We visit old charters. We meet new ones. And it feels good to be back in the wizarding world, I must say. The humor and charm are still there, as is the sense of dread that something wicked this way comes. It’s very satisfying. I wish it was longer. It’s always sad to reach the end of a great story, and this definitely seems like final chapter. I hope that J.K. Rowling has more in store for us, but this is a solid way to say goodbye to Harry Potter. Goodbye, Harry, old chum.

 Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (film)

David Yates directs Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe once again as the Harry Potter movie series reaches its epic conclusion. Harry, Ron, and Hermione track down the remaining Horcruxes and Harry and Voldemort face each other for the final time. And it’s all in mediocre 3D!

This movie marks the end of an era. You realize that you were spoiled by having eight awesome movies based on seven amazing books coming out over ten astounding years. You saw the kids grow up on screen, like British Olson Twins, but their careers didn’t end when they turned eighteen. With the 19 Years later epilogue at the end, you get to see them age into middle-aged adults. It’s cool to see how much those little tykes have grown.

Almost everything in the movie happens during one long day. Everything from the Gringott’s raid to Harry breaking and throwing away the Elder Wand happens pretty much within a 24 hour period. Harry’s day is way crazier than anything Jack Bauer ever had to deal with.

Harry’s quest to destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes takes him back to Hogwarts. The Order of the Phoenix and Harry’s supporters all show up to take on Voldemort and the Death Eaters in one of the biggest and best battles in cinematic history. There are spells and creatures and death and destruction all jumping out of the screen and smacking you in the face. It wasn’t the best 3D movie, but it wasn’t the worst either.

Alan Rickman finally gets more than a few lines. Snape is the best character in the books, and Deathly Hallows is kind of his coming out party. His secret past is revealed at last. Harry exploring Snape’s memories in the Pensieve is one of the highlights of the film. It is brief but thorough.

I was a little nervous that Neville wouldn’t get to kill Nagini. In the book, Harry finds Neville and tells him to kill the snake. In the movie, Harry tells Ron and Hermione to kill the snake. Nagini was about to attack Ron and Hermione, but than Neville comes out of nowhere to decapitate the snake and relieve my fears. Neville is my favorite character. If he didn’t complete his story arc I would have written David Yates a strongly worded letter voicing my displeasure.

The movie was a pretty faithful adaptation for the most part. There are a few nitpicky things that would have improved the movie. They should have included Dumbledore’s backstory and not just hint at it. And Harry should have used the Elder Wand to fix his broken wand before he gets rid of it. Both the book and the movie screwed over Lupin and Tonks by killing them off-screen. I was hoping the movie would show how they bit the dust.

This is the only Potter movie to make over a billion dollars at the box office. Part 1 and 2 were made for $250 million, and took in $2,284,510,930 combined. That’s a spicy meatball. Take that Twilight.

I was sad when the movie ended. Harry Potter is over. No more books. No more movies. No more reason to live in this cruel world.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book)

The Harry Potter Saga concludes in the seventh and final book. Things are much different this time around. Harry, Ron and Hermione blow off their final year at Hogwarts and embark on a quest to track down and destroy Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes in order to defeat him. Voldemort has essentially taken over the wizarding world, forcing Harry and his supporters to go on the run. The war has started, and you can’t help but draw parallels between this war and the Nazi takeover during World War II.

Harry has no guide or mentor anymore. Dumbledore and Sirius were both selfish and died, and Harry rejected Lupin’s help. All he has is Ron and Hermione to help keep him on the right path. The friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione is strained almost to the breaking point. Ron has always been jealous of Harry and Harry has always been stubborn. Some shit goes down and Ron decides to bail. Harry and Hermione trek on together for a bit, but Ron’s absence is noticed. It is a relief when he comes back.

Halfway through the book, the trinamic trio is still tromping from place to place. They only have one Horcrux with no clue as to how to destroy it. They don’t even know what or where the other Horcruxes are. It makes you feel very worried, you know that the book is ending soon and they are running out of time. The final third part of the book takes place in one day. Everything that happens the morning leading up to the Gringott’s raid to the fall of Voldemort occurs in one day. Sorry I didn’t put a spoiler alert there, but if you didn’t know that Voldemort dies I feel really bad for your parents. I liked the nineteen years later epilogue as well, but I think that seventeen years later would have been better.

Severus Snape is the man. He spends the entire seven books being an enigma. You can never tell where his loyalty lies. All you know is that Dumbledore trusts him, but Dumbledore makes mistakes too. J.K. Rowling’s best character is the most mysterious, but his ultimate redemption is enough cause to go back and reread the entire series, because now you know his motivation. Certain actions make sense with this new information, whereas before they seemed out of character. His final line, “Look… at…me…,” is amazing, and I love it even more because J.K. Rowling respects the reader, and doesn’t cheapen it by blatantly stating “Harry, look at me so that I can die gazing into your mother’s eyes, oh, how I loved Lily so.”

Dumbledore’s backstory makes you look at him in a new light. He was not always a great man. He had to learn about himself, what his strengths were and what his weaknesses were. You learn about his family life, and some of his shadier moments. You aren’t sure if you can fully trust him, even though you want to. This doubt heightens the drama when Harry learns he must sacrifice himself. Is Dumbledore capable of raising Harry like a lamb for slaughter?

Harry Potter steps up in the Order of the Phoenix. In Deathly Hallows, Neville Longbottom steps up. While Harry is out running around in the woods, Neville takes it upon himself to rebel against Snape and restarts Dumbledore’s Army. He protects the other students at his own expense. He was deserving enough to get the Sword of Gryffindor (like Harry back in Chamber or Secrets), and he uses the sword to kill Nagini, a.k.a. the final Horcrux. Only the most important characters destroy a Horcrux. Dumbledore destroys the ring, Harry destroyed the diary (and himself), Hermione destroyed Hufflepuff’s cup, Ron destroys the locket, the diadem was accidently destroyed by Fiendfyre, and Neville destroys Nagini. He comes full circle, from being comic relief to being Harry’s pureblood equivalent.

It is a great book, and the best ending that she could have come up with. I will never begin to understand how she could create and finish such an amazing and magical series with the pressure of the world watching, waiting, and judging. J.K. Rowling became the first ever author billionaire. She deserves all her success and more. She didn’t invent wizards or goblins or magic wands. But she made them her own, and created a timeless story that seals its place with masterpieces of literature like the Lord of the Rings and Goosebumps.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book)

This is the longest book in the Harry Potter series, and my personal favorite. There is way too much to review, so I’ll just be like the movie and leave out a bunch of stuff. J.K. Rowling takes Potter to a whole new level in this novel. Voldemort is back, but Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry of Magic refuse to believe it, and instead launch a campaign questioning Harry’s integrity and Dumbledore’s mental state.

The Ministry of Magic starts taking over Hogwarts slowly. First they make Fudge’s loyal employee, Dolores Umbridge, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. They gradually start imposing more and more decrees, and get rid of Hogwarts staff that threatens them politically. Fudge is extremely paranoid of Dumbledore, thinking he’s starting an army to seize control of the Ministry. Umbridge wont let the students perform defensive spells.

Hermione is weary of not learning, and she convinces Harry to teach her and a few other willing students defensive spells. He is reluctant at first, but eventually chooses to lead the fight against Umbridge. Harry, Ron, and Hermione recruit a few other students and form Dumbledore’s Army.

Life at Hogwarts gets more and more miserable as the Ministry takes over. Umbridge gradually becomes Headmaster, and Dumbledore is forced out. The earlier books were full of hope; this book is full of despair. Harry spends a lot of time being angry. He is still haunted by Cedric’s death, he is angry that he is out of the loop, he is hurt that people don’t believe him. But he chooses to fight, he wants to fight. He becomes a leader by choice.

Voldemort tricks Harry into thinking Sirius is in danger. Harry leads a small band of Dumbledore’s Army on a rescue mission, and realizes it’s a trap. They become overwhelmed by the Death Eaters. Harry finds out Voldemort is interested in a mysterious prophecy that holds answers to Harry’s past. Harry and his friends put up a fight, and suddenly Dumbledore and members of the Order of the Phoenix show up to help. In the midst of the battle, Bellatrix Lestrange kills Sirius. Dumbledore and Voldemort have a fierce duel, and you see why Dumbledore is the only one Voldy ever feared.

Neville also becomes more important. You learn about his past and how his parents were tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange. He is an orphan of sorts, just like Harry. He learns a lot with Dumbledore’s Army and joins Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Luna at Department of Mysteries and fights bravely. The prophecy also reveals that Neville could have been the Chosen one. “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …” Neville and Harry were born just one day apart, both their parents defied Voldy, but (SPOILER ALERT!) Voldemort marked Harry as his equal. That’s privileged information if you never finished the series. Sorry if I ruined your life, but it’s been out for a while.

The Order of the Phoenix is where bits and pieces from the earlier installments start to fall in place. You can start deducing where Harry and the story are going. You start to think that maybe Harry really is the Chosen One. There are many subplots and foreshadowing and Easter eggs. This book is where the series really takes off. There might be a lot of superfluous material, but when it comes to Potter, there’s no such thing as too much.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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