You have been warned.
I am a Harry Potter fan. I was a little younger than Harry when Hagrid brought him his Hogwarts letter when I started reading the books. I grew up with the trio. I laugh with them in the common room. I froze at the sight of Dementors. I cried with them at Shell Cottage. I was extremely vocal about casting choices for the films and had a little crushes on members of Dumbledore’s Army and the Death Eaters. Seriously, Mr Isaacs, stay blonde. For me, Nineteen Years Later was closure. I craved more but accepted that happiness and balance had been restored. There would be no more from the Wizarding World.
We have prequels and sequels everywhere, though we can’t call them that. Fantastic Beasts is ‘inspired’ by the textbook that was created many moon ago for Comic Relief. I think everyone got a slap on the wrist for calling Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a sequel. If we can’t call it a sequel, I think we should call it for what it is: a thought experiment. What do we want? Nostalgia! When do we want it? Yesterday today! My tickets for the Cursed Child were booked back in 2015. I did my waiting. Eighteen months of it. I brought the script and wrapped it up. I avoided reviews. I avoided social media. (That one was hard.) Now that I’ve witnessed it for myself my opinion is this: What was the point in that?
Having seen several internet videos on my favourite boy wizard, namely A Very Potter Musical and Harry Potter; How It Should Have Ended, I couldn’t take the plot seriously. Yes, it’s pretty to look at but time travel, really? Not only that, I’m upset because JK Rowling has done it better. When I speak of time travel, I hold Prisoner of Azkaban up as the gold standard. Almost twenty years ago, Harry James Potter’s name was pulled from the Goblet of Fire. (Counts to ten, trying not to get furious about Dumbledore charging across the trophy room.) But what if someone else won? Alternative realities, really?
What we have as a ‘continuation’ of our children story is over five hours of magical Back to the Future. The offspring of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy (not together, it’s pretty much fan fiction but not that kind of fan fiction) go back to the Triwizard Tournament to save ‘the spare’. They cause drastic ripples that give the audience possibilities they could never have fathomed. The smallest changes saw the subtle Nazi nuances of the books be practically rammed down our throats; our favourite characters cease to exist and our favourite villains live. Am I terrible person for asking: why bother?
I’m not normally full of short or snappy ways of describing things but I think I summed up my feelings perfectly during dinner between Parts One and Parts Two: It’s nostalgic, not progressive. I haven’t learnt anything new about the characters or the current state of the wizarding world. There are some jokes to lighten the mood that give us a glimpse into being Harry Potter in his late thirties, for example, they too are doing that no sugar thing. Albus and Harry have a troubled relationship. Albus is reserved and hates being under his father’s shadow. James Jnr, apparently, loves it and resembled the Weasley Twins more than his own mother and father. How did that happen? Lily and Rose were in there somewhere too. All but three characters are underdeveloped and only used to further the plot. There is nothing new. There is nothing in the now.
I hate myself. I was the same with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I wanted to be memorised like everyone else but I was dismissive. (An angry black cloud, that would never happen.) I crave more from JK’s imagination but I’ve imposed my own rules as to what is possible and impossible. It’s her world! Who am I to judge! If Squibs can turn into angry black clouds, then they can turn into angry black clouds. If they go back twenty years and create alternative realities, then get the blackboard and let’s figure out when Biff got the sports almanac. Going forward, I will be grateful. I will open my mind. I will keep the wonder and excitement 11 year old Charlie had.