Warner Bros. announced recently that Tony Award winner Dan Folger will be joining the cast of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” alongsideEddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller and Alison Sudol. Folger will be playing Jacob, a non-magical character (no word on whether Jacob will be a muggle or a squib) that Scamander befriends during his adventures in New York.
Folger is known for his Tony Award winning performance inThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,as well as appearing in Balls of Fury,The Good Wife, The Goldbergs and Hannibal. He also did voice work in Horton Hears A Who and Kung Fu Panda.
Newt Scamander finally has his counterpart in the upcoming Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Warner Bros. announced June 15 that Katherine Waterston will play the role of Tina, or Porpentina, a witch who resides in the U.S.. Porpentina meets Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, in New York during his exhibition to locate and document the world’s magical creatures. Porpentina is described as “grounded” and will be Newt’s love interest SPOILER ALERT and later his wife.
Harry Potter fans have been going nuts over the film ever since it was announced that J.K. Rowling herself would be penning the script back in 2013. There is little known about the actual plot except that it will focus on Hufflepuff Newt Scamander’s journey as he travels the world writing his magizoology book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which would become a required textbook in Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling wrote the actual textbook for the charity Comic Relief in 2001. At least part of the film will take place in the U.S., specifically New York, and there will be at least a mention of an American wizarding school. It will take place 70 years before Harry’s journey. David Yates will return to direct the film and it will be produced by David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter screenwriter Steven Kloves and Lionel Wigram.
Waterston is known best for her roles in Boardwalk Empire where she played Emma Harrow and Inherent Vice as Shasta Fay Hepworth. The British actress is also known for her roles in The Babysitters, Micheal Clayton and Robot and Frank. She will be playing Christian Brennan in Steve Jobs directed by Danny Boyle.
There is no further casting news as of yet, but Rowling reported on Twitter that she “couldn’t be happier” with Waterston as Porpentina.
Perhaps one of the best parts of a fandom is its fan created content. Whether it be fan art, fan fiction, videos, music or other creations, fan content is a giant aspect of any pop culture community. Look on fanfiction.net or (more recommended) archiveofourown.org and one will find fan fiction spanning longer than some novels. Thousands of fan artists share their work on DeviantArt, Tumblr, Facebook and other websites and some even make a living off of fandom related commissions. Musicians like Harry and the Potters and Kristina Horner play fandom inspired songs at sold out concerts across the world. While this type of content frequently gets a bad rap, the creativity and dedication that goes into it is astonishing with even the original content creators in awe of their fans’ creations. Supernatural star Misha Collins even created the international scavenger hunt Gishwhes after he was inspired by his fans’ creativity.
However, the copyright legality of fan created content has always been a little bit of a grey area. While many original content creators are flattered by these creations and even encourage their fans to make it, others are not so enthused. Recently the beloved “Adult Wednesday Adams” web series by Melissa Hunter was taken down due to copyright infringement. While this series isn’t any different from other fan created videos that still remain on YouTube, the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation demanded it be taken down. The rules about whether fans can share their creations without legal action or not seem to be dependent on how much the original creators care about what their fans are doing. The Harry Potter Alliance, long time fan activist organization, wants to change this.
“We believe that fan works provide tremendous value to the people who create and enjoy them,” says Fan Works Are Fair Use, the HPA sponsored group that is hoping to protect fan created content by making sure “any upcoming copyright and trademark laws are ones that protect and support [fans] reimagining of beloved stories.” With Net Neutrality still a frightening topic at large, fan work could be next on the chopping block. Their slogan “Creativity is not privately ownable” makes the argument that the hard work and imagination that goes into fan work is something that should be encourage, not squander with legal action. Creating content like this allows fans to further explore their favorite stories even after the final page is turned or the last episode airs. It also creates an environment in which creators can hone their craft. Even famous creators like The Mortal Instruments series author Cassandra Clare started out writing fan fiction. “Beloved universes and characters are reshaped through the lens of individual perspective, allowing writers and artists to hone their craft in a familiar, meaningful setting,” says FWAFU.
The project even makes the argument that fan works helps the original content creator. “While fan works obviously do not alter the original works, they do help shape and energize the culture that surrounds popular narratives. That energy helps to perpetuate the presence of the original work in the cultural zeitgeist, ultimately leading to more enthusiasm, passion, and (of course) sales.” Many fans would never have gotten into their now favorite fandoms if it weren’t for the astonishingly creative content that kept popping up on their social media platforms. The more people who get into a franchise, the more money that franchise makes. Fan works are like free advertisement, but user created and much more entertaining.
While there is no word yet on how FWAFU plans to protect fan content, the group is currently gathering its forces through a sign up sheet on their website. They are also leading a hashtag campaign to remove the stigma around fan work and prove how it can be beneficial. “Maybe a fic about Peeta’s delicious baked goods helped you imagine Katniss’s life after the Hunger Games, or perhaps a race-bent Hermione helped you picture a wizarding world that better reflects your own. Maybe you’re an artist who mastered brushwork doing Steven Universe sketches, or a writer who sharpened your skills penning stories about a young Kirk and Spock. Whatever your story, we want to know: what do fanworks mean to you?” asked the HPA in a recent subscribers email. Fans are encouraged to share their experience with fan work on social media with the hashtag #FanWorksTaughtMe. Some examples the group gives are “#FanWorksTaughtMe to think critically about my identity and how that is (or isn’t) reflected in the media,” and “#FanWorksTaughtMe how to play piano so I could make songs about my favorite books.” Tweets from around the globe are already rolling in.
Gay geeks rejoice! Dumbledore and Gandalf are officially getting married! Or at least, their look-a-likes are. After the legalization of gay marriage in Ireland, JK Rowling tweeted, “Sitting here watching the Irish make history. Extraordinary and wonderful.” Not soon after a fan and Rowling came to the conclusion that Dumbledore and Gandalf could indeed get married in the country.
This sparked a response from the Westboro Baptist Church, who tweeted Rowling, telling her they would picket any wizard wedding that may occur. The writer’s response was golden. “Alas, the sheer awesomeness of such a union in such a place would blow your tiny bigoted minds out of your thick sloping skulls.”
.@WBCsigns Alas, the sheer awesomeness of such a union in such a place would blow your tiny bigoted minds out of your thick sloping skulls.
Now it seems that this OTP is becoming canon, as the LGBTQ rights activist group Planting Peace will be holding a fake wedding on their rainbow painted “Equality House” property just across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church this Sunday, June 7 at 2pm. “We are delighted to be hosting the Dumbledore and Gandalf wedding and stand with them in the face of bigotry and celebrate equality for all,” said Planting Peace President Aaron Jackson to the Huffington Post. Since WBC wants to picket the wedding, Planting Peace decided to “bring the wedding to them, the real-life Mordor.” All the church will have to do to witness the ceremony is look out its window.
The Equality House was created in 2013 when Planting Peace bought and painted the house in Topeka, KS to send a message to the WBC. “[The Equality House] serves as the resource center for all Planting Peace human rights and bully prevention initiatives and stands as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all,” says Planting Peace.
Dumbledore and Gandalf will be played by local actors that Planting Peace intends to hire. There’s no word yet who will officiate the wedding, but my hope is for The Doctor himself. The organization is using this event to fundraise both online and—presumably— at the ceremony. At news time, the campaign has raised $755 for their peace spreading cause.
Get ready to party, Dumbledalf shippers! It’s officially canon!
Featured image by Planting Peace. GIF by Warner Bros.
After a few months of being on the rumor mill, Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables, The Theory of Everything) has been officially cast as Newt Scamander in the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The movie will follow Scamander on his adventures locating the Fantastic Beasts for his book that eventually becomes text for Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Fred Weasley, and other Hogwarts students.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set to release in theaters November 18th, 2016.
I think the only fair way to start my review of Horns is with a disclaimer. Well, two disclaimers really. First, I read the book Horns and thoroughly enjoyed it, but because of that I spent a lot of time watching the movie waiting for elements of the book to appear, and then trying to figure out if I liked the book or the movie. Or both. Second, I love Daniel Radcliffe. LOVE HIM. To me, he can do no wrong. However, I worked really hard to separate myself from that so I can give Horns a fair review. So, with that being said, I’ll get to it.
Horns is the story of Iggy Perish (Daniel Radcliffe) and his journey to find the person who killed the girl he loves. All the while he is the number one suspect and, for whatever reason, he woke up one morning with horns growing out of his head a la Satan. Of course the horns are not merely cosmetic, they cause the people Iggy comes in contact with to reveal their most horrible truths to him, as well as their darkest secrets and desires and then ask his permission to act on them. And naturally they give Ig the inclination to give in to his more evil urges as well which enables him to find his beloved’s killer all the more easily.
Joe Hill’s Horns is honestly my type of love story, and I’m really not a fan of love stories. It’s dark, the love is overpowering and insecure, and the happy ending is definitely one side of a double edged sword. The story takes place in our universe, but with a fantastical twist. Granted, there is a strong basis of Christianity in the story, but as opposed to taking a side on religion, it merely uses its elements for fantasy’s sake. A cross necklace does play an important role, but so does the devil and frankly he’s portrayed in a pretty favorable light.
The movie really tells a great story, but unfortunately it stutters in its flow and spends too much time on some less crucial elements which causes important plot points to suffer. A lot of energy was spent flashing back to the love story between Iggy and his dearly departed Merrin (Juno Temple), and while those scenes are beautifully shot and full of heart they may have sucked up too much time. Iggy is the only character in the movie who is really fully developed, everyone else has very little screen time and their introductions and explanations are rushed. This might not be a problem in a full on romance about the gooey love between just two people, but it does cause Horns to suffer a little because it’s a murder mystery. By the time the reveal of the real killer came around, it felt a little weak because as little as each of the side characters were shown it basically could have been anyone, as there was no motive or background given for anyone.
At times, the dialogue feels unnatural and the actors have to say things it seems no person would ever say in real life, but other than those moments the movie is extremely well acted. I assure you it is not my bias talking when I say that Daniel Radcliffe was captivating. I love Harry Potter more than the next guy, but so far this is the best performance I’ve seen from Radcliffe. He’s vulnerable, angry, scared and downright wicked. Anything that the movie Horns itself may have lacked, he single-handedly made up for.
Overall, Horns is absolutely worth seeing. It’s really beautifully shot and the scenery is just gorgeous. The love story is sweet and cruel, the fantasy and comedy elements hit hard and leave a lasting impression. I left the theater unsure about what to think about it but the movie stuck with me, which I think is a mark of what makes it good. I wasn’t sure at certain points while I was watching it, but I kept thinking about it and picturing it after it was over and it left me with one of those beautiful melancholy feelings. The more I relive it, the more I want to go and see it again.
With her recent speech for the He for She campaign at the United Nations, actress Emma Watson (newly appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador) showed us what leadership and feminism looks like. Although she has received backlash for the speech, her point stands. When it comes to activism and human rights, we must all take a leadership role regardless of our gender or opinion on the word “feminism”. We have people to lead us in this fight against inequality not only in the real world, but also examples of these heroes in our fandoms.
While Emma is not the character she plays in the Harry Potter franchise, it is no surprise that she follows in the footsteps of Hermione Granger, who in fact was a feminist and human rights activist herself. After the completion of the series, JK Rowling revealed that Hermione would go on to work in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures for the Ministry of Magic. There, she continued her work with the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (S.P.E.W.) to gain rights for underprivileged non-humans such as house elves. She later became Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and with the help of Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, abolished pure-blood favoring and biased laws.
Both Emma Watson and Hermione Granger have inspired girls all over the world to be strong and stand up for what they believe in. I remember being a child reading Harry Potter and looking to Hermione for guidance. She was bullied for caring about knowledge, for being different, and I was facing a similar adversity in my own life. I pictured Hermione and in her saw a way to combat against the misogyny and inequality in my life, though I didn’t know the words for them at the time. I still look to Hermione when I’m lost. I just started college and occasionally get scoffed at for raising my hand so much in class. When I’m frustrated with this, I tell myself “I am like Hermione Granger. If she can get through this, I can too.”
In her essay “Feminism and Equal Opportunity” found in Harry Potter and Philosophy; If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts edited by David Bagget and Shawn E. Klein, Mimi R. Goldstein points out that Hermione Granger is not just one of the guys. “We often see… stereotypes that a woman must be saved by a man or that she must be taken care of by a man. Contrary to this stereotype, however, Hermione often acts to rescue Harry and Ron at crucial junctures in the plot.” There are multiple examples of this in the Harry Potter series. Hermione is never afraid to back down. The most potent example of this, perhaps, is in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Malfoy and his goons have the audacity to laugh at Buckbeak’s execution and Hermione punches Malfoy in the face. While Hermione is not typically one for violence and this scene is not necessarily advocating that one should punch a bully in the face, the metaphoric resonance still rings clear. Women like Hermione Granger who are strong, will not allow themselves to be treated as weak, and will stand up for what they believe in. In this case, Hermione makes it clear to Malfoy that laughing in the face of injustice is not to be tolerated. When she first pulls her wand on him, he is terrified and sniveling. She pulls it away and he laughs at what he thinks it is her inability to fight him. Immediately, however, she turns around and gives it to him right in the kisser. She fights a pureblood, muggle hater in the most deliciously insulting way possible. She doesn’t use her wand. She fights him like a muggle.
Emma talked in her speech about being labeled as “bossy” as a kid because she had an interest in directing her elementary school play. The boys in her grade, however, did not face this when expressing their desire to direct. While the Wizarding World holds women as anything but second class citizens, Hermione Granger nonetheless faces a similar discrimination in the Harry Potter series because of her thirst for knowledge. Despite this, Hermione is never unsure of herself. She knows she’s smart. She knows she’s strong. She never lets anyone tell her what to do or to dilute herself. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, she convinces the Ministry of Magic to give her a time turner to allow her to take as many classes as possible. She never lets those who taunt her take away her thirst for knowledge.
JK Rowling once said that she based Hermione very much on herself, as she too was labeled as bossy in school. All of these women have risen above their adversities and gone on to fight for their rights and the rights of others. Emma and Hermione both hold high positions of influence in their governments.
We must take on leadership roles when it comes to activism in our world. It can be somewhat daunting to do so, but there are resources out there to help us be Hermione Grangers. One particular resource is the Harry Potter Alliance and their first annual Granger Leadership Academy. Taking place October 17th, 18th, and 19th in Auburn, Alabama, the GLA “is designed to bring our greatest leaders together in one place and allow them to establish strong connections with each other, share ideas, learn from our talented staff, and emerge well-equipped to lead their community to a more just and magical future” says the conference’s website. Think Hogwarts, but instead of taking classes, you’re just going to Dumbledore’s Army meetings. Tickets are $50 for the whole weekend and on sale now.
The Harry Potter Alliance is holding their annual Equality FTW fundraiser right now through Indiegogo. All the money raised will go into initiatives for fighting for equality such as the Granger Grant which gives up to $1000 to groups and individuals who have a concrete plan for activism in their community. The HPA has also put into effect a real life S.P.E.W. as the Society for the Promotion of Equality Winning which will benefit from the fundraiser.
Emma Watson has extended an invitation to all of us, both men and women, to fight for equality among the sexes. We must take this invitation and be leaders in our community. We must take up the goblet and be the Hermione Grangers of our world.
Police brutality has been making headlines with the recent murder of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Peaceful protests asking for justice that have followed the shooting have been assaulted by police with the use of rubber bullets and tear gas. Policemen have even fired into residential areas as protesters fled, with no regard for citizens who were not involved in the protest or regard for damage to personal property. Those documenting the protests and other acts of police brutality have been told to shut their cameras off and have been faced with violence if they do not comply. Even reporters from major news organizations have been arrested without cause and assaulted in at least one reported account. These infringements on civil rights have gone for the most part unpunished; officers getting the equivalent of a slap on the wrist from their superiors. Our country’s police departments are becoming more like military operations every day.
While watching a livestream of the protests happening in Ferguson, I thought of two books that parallel to what has become of our police department. Both The Hunger Games and The Harry Potter series touch on police brutality, racism, and media censorship.
For those of you who haven’t read or seen The Hunger Games, it takes place in a futuristic America named Panem which is split into twelve districts with a powerful Capital that rules them all. The equivalent to a police force in these districts are ironically called Peacekeepers and they keep the citizens in line by any means necessary. The means necessary frequently involve— especially in the second book, Catching Fire— brute force, public floggings, and strict curfew with deadly consequences if not obeyed. Anyone who speaks out against the Capital, whom the Peacekeepers serve, is met with swift retribution.
In Catching Fire, after Katniss, the heroine, speaks about Rue, a young girl who was murdered, during the 74th Hunger Games Victory Tour, a man from Rue’s district raises his hand in a three finger salute and whistles Rue’s famous four note tune. This starts an uprising in the district and the man is shot for inspiring it while others meet similar retribution.
The protests that have been occurring in Ferguson, MO have been met with paralleling brutality. Those who are standing up and demanding justice for Michael Brown have put their lives on the line for what they believe in, and police officials are having none of it. They have been gassed and shot simply for exercising their right to assemble. It’s shocking to see how similar these policemen are to the Peacekeepers of Panem.
The character named Gale in The Hunger Games is arrested and whipped by Peacekeepers for poaching. Katniss jumps in front of the Peacekeepers and her celebrity status effectively saves Gale from more abuse. She is the “darling of the Capital” and the Peacemaker realizes he can not harm Katniss without President Snow coming down on him. If it weren’t for her celebrity, she would likely be shot and killed for standing up.
This again parallels to what is happening in Ferguson, as Ryan Reilly from the Huffington Post and Washington Post Wesley Lowery were arrested in a McDonalds, assaulted, detained, then let go without any paperwork. They had interviewed one of the police men earlier that day. Had these reporters been regular citizens documenting the events of Ferguson, they would most likely still be in jail. Fear of backlash from the media is likely why the reporters were set free without charge, similar to a fear of backlash from the Capital in The Hunger Games in the case of Katniss standing up for Gale.
So how does Ferguson relate to Harry Potter? One major theme of Harry Potter is indeed racism. While racism in our world is primarily about the color of one’s skin, it is quite different in the Wizarding World where everything has to do with bloodlines. Draco Malfoy frequently uses the slur “Mudblood” to insult Hermione Granger and does so again in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Filch’s cat Mrs. Norris is found petrified. “Enemies of the Heir beware? You’ll be next mudbloods!” Muggleborns like Hermione have to work extra hard to overcome the stigma put on their bloodline. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows we see that this type of racism is even evident in the Ministry of Magic when Harry, Hermione, and Ron pass by a statue in the building that depicts muggles and muggleborns being crushed under a pillar. Th pillar reads “Magic is Might” and purebloods stand atop it.
Harry Potter also relates because of how it talks about media censorship and consolidation. The Daily Prophet starts harmless enough, but as the books progress, and especially in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it becomes a tool for the Ministry of Magic and by extension, Voldemort himself. The Ministry refuses to accept that Voldemort is back and labels Harry as “Undesirable Number One” for spreading the truth about the Dark Lord’s return. When reading The Daily Prophet, wizards wouldn’t find anything about the Wizarding War or the horrible truth of what Voldemort was doing. The only reliable news outlets such as Potterwatch had to act carefully for fear of retribution. Xenophilius Lovegood, owner, editor and reporter of the independent paper The Quibbler, is one news source that does not escape retribution. After printing articles about Voldemort’s return and the war, his daughter Luna is kidnapped and the reporter is forced to print lies, then ultimately kidnapped himself. Because of how cautious reporters had to be during the war, few citizens had access to the truth.
Reporters big and small on the scene at Ferguson put themselves at risk. “Turn your cameras off!” is frequently shouted by police before shooting into the crowd. Like The Ministry of Magic and Voldemort in Harry Potter, they don’t want the truth of what is happening to reach the public. Police will target reporters and often damage camera equipment. Police have even gone to taking down sites where livestreams of what is happening are posted. There is so much false information being passed around that many people don’t fully understand what is happening. There has been speculation on whether the name of the officer released as the one who shot Michael Brown is actually true.
So what? How will spotting the similarities between fiction and reality make a difference? Well, it has made a difference in the past. In 2007, StopBigMedia.com teamed up with The Harry Potter Alliance in an attempt to stop media consolidation. They launched the website Potterwatch to “illustrate the dangers of allowing giant corporations to swallow up local, diverse media outlets.” They did this in three ways. First, they pointed out the parallels between media consolidation in the Wizarding World and media consolidation in our world. Second, they released “Rocking Out Against Voldemedia” a free compilation album of Wizard Rock songs on the topic of media consolidation. Lastly, they urged fans to write their congressmen about the issue. And you know what? It worked. The two groups made the Senate reverse the FCC’s ruling.
When we take a familiar story like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter and we tell people, “Look! The same thing is happening right now and you have the opportunity to stand up and stop it!”, people can better identify both what the problem is and how to combat it. If fictional characters can fight against this and win, why can’t we? The answer, of course, is that we can. We can stand up like Katniss and Harry Potter and fight against brutality and racism. We as fans can come together and be a Dumbledore’s Army for the real world. The Harry Potter Alliance is already asking fans to cast a Sonorous Charm, the spell that makes your voice louder, on the protesters in Ferguson by sharing, retweeting, and reblogging documentation of the brutality. Both they and author John Green, a huge supporter of The Harry Potter Alliance, are keeping tabs on Twitter feeds and livestreams that are reporting on the issue. When it comes to Ferguson, our most powerful magic is our voice and we must use it. If we don’t, the Voldemorts and President Snows of our world win.
“…fantasy is not an escape from our world, but an invitation to go deeper into it.” – Andrew Slack, Creator/Cofounder/Executive Director of The Harry Potter Alliance
Every kid wants their favorite stories to be real. When I was a child, I desperately wanted to be a wizard. I would scour sites like MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron looking for real spells. I remember leaping off of my father’s car with a broom and completely believing that I had flown for a few seconds. I used to leave gifts for faeries in our neighbor’s garden. I was convinced magic was real, that it was out there, and I was determined to find it.
As I grew up, I slowly realized the kind of magic that comes out of wands and broomsticks wasn’t quite as real as I had thought. However, I still felt like there was something important, something magical that Harry Potter had left in our world. Maybe I couldn’t fly on a broomstick to my friend’s house, but the lessons I learned through literature could take me much farther.
The human race has been telling stories since the dawn of communication. Mythology and Fables used to be our way of explaining the world around us. Whether it be the appearance of lightning explained through the god Thor in Greek Mythology or a child learning the consequences of lying through a fable like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, fiction is magnificent at getting a point across. Today’s stories are more complex, often dealing with several issues at once and evolving as time goes by. While modern stories teach us quite a bit, we don’t always consciously see the lessons hidden between the lines. Watching Supernatural, one might be entertained by the witty banter and good looks of Sam and Dean, but viewers may not be inherently aware of what the fictional brotherhood can tell us about our own families. Reading about orphan wizards is fine and dandy, but looking closer Harry Potter has a lot to teach us about love, acceptance, racism, genocide, and human rights. We can use these stories to help understand ourselves and others, overcome adversities, and even fight for social change in the world.
It’s important to realize the power that fiction and pop culture has in our reality. Without the blonde slayer from Sunnydale, girls across the globe might not have realized that they were also forces to be reckoned with. Countless technologies we have today such as cellphones, Skype, and new medical equipment were inspired by those used on Star Trek decades ago. If it weren’t for Harry Potter, the award winning and wildly successful charity The Harry Potter Alliance would not have raised over $123,000 for Partners in Health to send five cargo planes worth of supplies to Haiti in 2010. Stories have always inspired us, but now more than ever we have the opportunity to take it one step further; to allow that which is not real to affect what is.
Andrew Slack is the Creator, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Harry Potter Alliance, a 501c3 nonprofit charity that takes parallels in fandom to an entirely different level. Inspired by the Dumbledore’s Army Harry leads in the Wizarding World, the charity brings fans together for one common cause: making the muggle world better. Like he explains in his TED Talk, every roadblock can be overcome and he, as well as many other fans, can always find the hidden door. He believes that we can do this by using the power of story and bringing it out of its pages or away from the screen, and into our own lives.
In these editorials titled “Parallels in Fandom” that will publish the first Saturday of every month, we will explore this idea more fully. There are many connections between what we observe in fiction and what occurs in real life and within those parallels we can find answers, inspiration, and solace. We can find ways to change our world by viewing those which exist behind a screen or in the pages of a book.
July has come and gone in the blink of an eye. August promises to close out the summer in style, with a few notable blockbusters and some good independent films sprinkled in. Check out what we have to say about August’s films:
August 1 – Guardians of the Galaxy
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro
I’m hooked on a feeling… that this might be the greatest Marvel movie ever made. Although the Guardians have been around in comic books for decades, and the team being used for the film having existed since 2008, the number of people who can name any of the individual team members is far surpassed by the volume of fans who have no idea what is going on – and that will work to the film’s benefit. Nobody has any expectations of this rag-tag group, whose diversity is its strongest card. A talented set of actors, endless humor and explosive action will round out the intergalactic adventure that, at worst is a thrilling movie to see with the family, and at best could be this generation’s Star Wars. One thing is certain – we will be at the theaters on Friday to find out. – Sherif
HEEEYYY!!! Now one more time, say that with your best James Brown impression. Couldn’t do it? That’s okay, because Chadwick Boseman sure can when he plays James Brown in the upcoming biopic titled Get on Up. If you are a fan of James Brown, soul, funk, music, and history, this movie is for you. Be prepared to get on up and enjoy this movie directed by Tate Taylor (The Help). However, get on up silently because, well, you are still in a movie theater. I honestly believe this movie is going to be great and it’ll make you feel so many emotions including excitement, happiness, sadness, and sorrow. Despite this movie being about the music of the godfather of soul, it is also about his family and his life, which has not been struggle-free. Basically, I think this movie is going to be fantastic; however, if James Brown and his music is not your thing, it is possibly the drama and the history will be enough to hold your interest. So one more time, get on up, and give it your best HEEEYYY!!! – Evan
August 5 – Dragonball Z: Battle of the Gods
Starring: Original voice cast
I’ve been trying to get into DBZ since I recently signed up for Crunchyroll, but there are just so many other great animes out that I haven’t gotten a chance to get to really dive into the series. What really has me interested is the fact that a year after its release, Funimation has taken it upon themselves to get the American theatrical release rights and is showing this in select theaters for a few nights. Something happened with a Tekken animated movie a few years back and it was definitely worth the trip. I don’t personally care about this movie and I figure that any major fan would have already seen the dubbed version, and while I don’t really care for some of the business practices of Funimation, this gives me hope for the future. Anything that gets a big enough following could be a potential candidate for the big screen. There are plenty of animes I would pay to see so if this is your type of thing, make sure to get out there and support it as it will give companies a reason to continue doing this in the future. – Robert
August 8 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Starring: Johnny Knoxville (voice only), Tony Shalhoub (voice only), Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Whoopi Goldberg
August is here, and whether or not fans burn down the House that Bay built depends on this film. Long-time fans are either reserved or outraged, whether it be the way the Turtles look, the fact that Megan Fox is playing April O’Neil, or if it’s just based off the fact that Michael Bay is the director. All of these points are quite valid, but I can’t help but want to take a chance on this new take on the Heroes in a Half-Shell. We all have our own impression on what we consider the Turtles to be, and I think that any major motion picture attention to the franchise is a win in my books. There’s simply no way this TMNT incarnation will be as amazing as the originals, or even the new Nickelodeon television series, but as long as Bay can capture the magic of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that made it such an instant classic 30 years ago, it may continue to be at the forefront of pop culture for all ages. – Sherif
August 8 – What If
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver
Originally titled The F Word for its initial 2013 debut, What If is the tale of Harry Potter trying to avoid being put in the friend-zone with a decidedly hot blonde. It sounds like a cliché concept, but What If has already garnered a lot of critical acclaim, earning Best Adapted Screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards. Daniel Radcliffe is finally believable as an adult actor, and his best friend in the movie is played by Adam Driver – who is the one sole reason that HBO’s Girls is a watchable show for me. This movie won’t break any new ground, but for any guys looking to get over the Friend Zone hump, this would be the movie to take her to (unless she likes TMNT, in which case you should just marry her). – Sherif
August 8 – Step Up: All In
Starring: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam Sevani, Stephen Boss, and Cyrus Spencer
Confession time: I have seen every single episode of So You Think You Can Dance. Every. Single. One. I haven’t seen any of the Step Up movies, but I am always happy for the contestants of SYTYCD when they make it to gigs beyond the show. For Stephen Boss aka tWitch and Cyrus Spencer aka Glitch, this is exactly the case. And really, is anyone going to see these movies for the plot? No, its a dance movie. But the dancing should be worth seeing this film, even if it is just for the SYTYCD alum. – Adrian
August 15 – Frank
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson (AKA Bill Weasley), Scoot McNairy
I have absolutely no idea what to make of this movie. It looks like Deadmau5 has a crack-head brother or something and we are getting to watch the story of his tomfoolery. The story of a guy who wears a fake head and never ever takes it off seems like it could be humorous but I don’t know if this is my kind of comedy. After watching the trailer my interest is definitely piqued but there are too many other things I would rather see so I would say that I will wait to rent this at Redbox or something, but truth be told I will probably forget about this movie once I’m done writing this. – Robert
August 15 – Life After Beth
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Anna Kendrick, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon
As much as I love these actors and zombies, I am rather sick of people being in love with monsters. Although the idea may be over done in this we see upcoming actor Dane DeHaan (Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Zach, a young man who we see struggling emotionally due to the loss of his girlfriend. This quickly changes as Zach sees Beth (Aubrey Plaza), his lost girlfriend and finds she has been resurrected somehow, and although she initially shows no signs they start to figure out she is a zombie and needs to eat human flesh. This will almost guaranteed bring laughs if for nothing else due to the cast, but ultimately it will be lost among the other blockbusters this month. It is definitely not a family film and is marketed towards the teen and young adult community. Although the film itself may be easily forgotten due to other massive films this month don’t forget it as it will likely be a well liked film among certain groups. – Jacob
August 15 – The Expendables 3
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer(?), Terry Crews, Victor Ortiz, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Initially sold as a man-gasm inducing thrill-fest, this franchise is two strokes away from permanently shooting blanks. I love action flicks as much as the next guy, and I genuinely thought the franchise was a good idea, but is there something really so wrong with just letting the legends ride off into the sunset without having to sit through multiple hours of screaming, slow-motion firefights and catchphrases that barely worked twenty years ago? Let’s be honest; nobody is watching this film for the acting, or the storyline. Twenty & thirty-something men get to see some of their action star idols duke it out as one last hurrah. The third installment gives us Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson (the new bad guy), Harrison Ford, a post-prison Wesley Snipes and Kelsey Grammer. If the fate of the world is in Frasier Crane’s hands, we’re all screwed. There’s no way I’m influencing you’re decision to see The Expendables 3, as you’ve likely already made your decision before reading this. – Sherif
August 15 – The Giver
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift
I won’t lie. When I see the trailer for The Giver, I get chills. Based off the book The Giver by Lois Lowry, the movie will be a look into one boy’s world… a utopia that isn’t actually that perfect. It feels odd to be writing a preview on this for two reasons. One being that practically every millennial and younger have read the book in school. The other being that if I say much more for those who don’t know the plot, there is a lot to give a way. In short, go see this movie. You will not be disappointed. -Adrian
August 22 – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Starring: Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Bruce Willis
Is it 2005 again, or did Robert Rodriguez just find a way to make Jessica Alba hot again?? It’s been nearly a decade, but Frank Miller’s Sin City is coming back to the silver screen in its second installment, A Dame to Kill For. Just like last time, the star-studded cast will take turns adding their pieces to the puzzle. Sin City vets like Alba, Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin are back, but several big name newcomers will also be sharing the spotlight, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Viewers should expect multiple plot twists, both in a sequel and prequel aspect to the original. Miller and Rodriguez’s visual style also looks to be prevalent throughout the film. This is going to be a fun movie any way you look at it. If you can’t wait for the movie to come out, you can also read the graphic novel of the same name, as it was released over 20 years ago. – Sherif
August 22 – To Be Takei
Starring: George Takei
Oh my! To Be Takei is a documentary depicting the life of brilliant and ever-exuberant George Takei. It tells his story from his childhood in a Japanese internment camp to his ground breaking role on Star Trek to his coming out story and marriage. This promises to be an incredibly inspiring film, especially for anyone who has felt trapped by society just for being who they are. George cleverly reminds us in the tagline that “It’s Okay to Be Takei!” As a Trekkie and proud member of the LGBT community, I’m extremely excited to see this movie hit the big screen, On Demand, and iTunes on August 22nd. – Charlotte
This movie looks like it could be a more light-hearted sequel to Due Date. The movie stars Zach Galifinakis as yet another crazy person with a myriad of issues, only this time he inherits a small fortune and everybody seems to be out to get it from him. It actually looks pretty funny but looks like it might have more of those light-hearted friendship moments than I would prefer from a movie with him in it. His usual style of comedy hasn’t yet grown old to me so this definitely looks like something worth checking out. – Robert
August 22 – If I Stay
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Jaimie Blackley, Liana Liberato, Mireille Enos, and Joshua Leonard
Honestly, I have never read If I Stay. However, it doesn’t look half bad. The story follows a teenage celloist named Mia who has a pretty good life going on until her family gets in a fatal car wreck. Mia experiences an out of body experience while in a coma and must decide whether to go back to living or go… elsewhere. I don’t know whether this will appeal to the masses, but anything that gets teenagers to read seems pretty decent to me. – Adrian
August 29 – Life of Crime
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Yasiin Bey
Life of Crime reminds me of the type of comedy that my parents would have watched when I was a kid, and one that I wouldn’t have understood for the life of me. I have a feeling this could be the same way. Tim Robbins plays a rich man whose beautiful wife (Aniston) is kidnapped. When the kidnappers attempt to collect the ransom, Robbins refuses to pay. If it sounds like an idea that’s been done before, that’s because it has. The 1986 movie Ruthless People had pretty much the same premise, and Life of Crime is credited as being based off the book The Switch. I’d be lying if I said that Jennifer Aniston, Mos Def and Tim Robbins didn’t sell me on seeing the movie, but otherwise, Life of Crime doesn’t bring nearly enough to the table to make me want to sit through it. – Sherif