This past Saturday at the LeakyCon conference in Chicago, Team StarKid performed ‘A Very Potter 3D: A Very Potter Senior Year’ for the first and probably the last time – and we were there! Some of our predictions came true, and we’re going to give you every possible detail that we can without outright spoiling you.

Firstly, our top five predictions:

1. The plot will draw from the canon of Chamber of Secrets.

No comment. Telling you the plot would be spoiling the whole thing outright! But keep this in mind: the show has been written – changed, but written, for a very long time. There is content in it that was meant to be in the very first show and was cut. Several members of StarKid, especially the Lang brothers, have spoken in interviews about the content of the third Potter show – possibly when they thought that putting it on was not a possibility – and there is definitely some content in there that they have spoken about before. Go find those interviews – they’re on YouTube – and mine them for nuggets of information and you might get an idea of some of the show.

2. Evanna Lynch will cameo as Dobby.

Wrong – but as you may have seen on Twitter, Evanna was in the show. She actually played Luna in all the Hogwarts scenes, which we cannot believe was allowed by Warner Bros, but it was very fun.

3. The Lang brothers will provide running commentary.

Wrong – but close! Team StarKid had professional voice actor Bob Joles, who is the husband of their talent agent Pat Brady, reading the stage directions and scene changes. This proved to be very funny and the cast broke the fourth wall, interacting with him and telling him off at certain points.

4. Meredith Stepien will play Hermione.

Correct. She did. This is a pretty big casting spoiler and we will not be giving any new casting spoilers, but seeing as the original Hermione, Bonnie Gruesen, tweeted about Meredith doing the show, we think we can give you this one. She did a great job and the switchover included a joke very much like the one we predicted.

5. There won’t be any songs.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, so wrong. We’re so happy to be wrong. The show featured songs written by A.J. Holmes, Clark Baxtresser, Pierce Siebers, Nick and Matt Lang, and Darren Criss. We’ll talk more about the music in a moment.

Here’s what happened…

The format of the show was really much closer to a full production than the reading that was originally promised. It was fully blocked and costumed – Corey Lubowich told us that there were over 75 costumes in the show – and included some basic choreography for some of the cast members who had a little more rehearsal time. Everybody carried scripts, but a lot of the cast were pretty much off-book and only held their scripts as to not make the less-rehearsed cast members stand out. It was the first time the group had been able to actually run the show in full, in order, and considering that it went incredibly smoothly, though of course there were a lot of hiccups that were noticed and laughed at, and probably many more that we didn’t realize were mistakes but that Team StarKid were flailing and cursing at behind the scenes. For example, because the show had not been run before, they did not have cues for the microphones, so all 30+ cast members had live mics the entire show. So we heard some backstage laughing, talking and other sounds that will definitely not make it onto Youtube!

The show was long. Very long – about four and a half hours in total. The first few scenes dragged a little, but as both the audience and the actors settled into the medium, the pace picked up and we were able to become very caught up in the show. What we’re officially allowed to say about the plot is this: that it’s Harry’s final year at Hogwarts, and after defeating Voldemort and all his lingering Death Eaters during the past few years, Harry is trying to find his place in a world that no longer needs him and no longer thinks he’s cool. A new character comes along who really salts the wound for the Boy Who Lived, as does a popularity contest with Draco Malfoy, and Harry tries to create for himself a new image and a fresh start instead of being the same old boring savior of Hogwarts. There’s also an interwoven plot told brilliantly in flashbacks, so you may see some characters that you’ve seen before and didn’t expect to see again. There are a few inconsistencies or forgotten ‘canon’ from the past Potter shows – what springs to mind most clearly is that they really didn’t have any interaction between Draco and Luna despite the fact that they got together at the end of A Very Potter Sequel when Luna was played by Arielle Goldman – but once we started really tuning into the show, not just what was happening onstage and the way it was being performed, but what was being said, what was written – the content is sheer brilliance.

This show was not slapped together for the sake of appeasing the fans – it’s just as funny, just as touching, just as rude, just as wrenching as the other Potter productions. The quality of the content is absolutely up to the standard of all other StarKid shows – they just simply did not have the time to give it the rehearsal it deserved. But what they pulled off in just one weekend simply goes to show how well these people work together, how much they can play off of one another and be in tune with one another in order to put on a show that really blew our expectations out of the water. We expected this to be pretty rough, and to forgive them for that because we all know the circumstances surrounding the limited timing. We were prepared to appreciate whatever they were able to give us and the fact that they were sharing this with us at all. We were not prepared for the near-perfect experience that it was. Yes, it was rough, and there were obvious mistakes or unrehearsed parts, but we were all prepared for that, so those moments became funny and charming, and something that will become a precious memory to everyone who was there, because it was real, and in the moment, and we all knew the deal and we all had their backs. The show that ends up going onto YouTube does have the possibility to run very cleanly – editing out pauses, filming from five cameras means that they have the possibility to cut away from people making mistakes to focus on other things in the scene – but we think the attendees will always cherish the opportunity to have seen the whole live show – warts, f-bombs and all.

A few MVPs: Chris Allen, who played three very different roles absolutely hysterically. Joe Walker, who brought his usual intense character work and strange vulnerability, as well as some killer dance moves. Joe Moses had a monologue that made us cry. Dylan Saunders had a monologue that made us cry. A.J. Holmes was flawless – running between playing his role, which was not minor, and playing in the band, and he had a speech which was possibly the funniest thing ever put into a StarKid show. He did it off-book and his delivery was just something we cannot wait for you to see – this scene has apparently existed for years, it was cut from both the first show and the sequel, so it was very polished. Lauren Lopez’s Draco was as brilliant as ever. Joey Richter had a solo number which nearly tore a hole in the roof of the Hilton, the crowd went absolutely wild – he is a true star.

And of course we cannot pass over Darren Criss, who took a red-eye into Chicago, arrived at about 6am, and apparently went straight into rehearsal in order to play Harry for us one last time. He was certainly more unprepared than some of the others, but he made up for it in the strength of his acting on the fly and the sheer emotion he brought to the role. The show is fairly light up until the end of the first act, and honestly not that Harry-centric: there are many scenes he’s not in at all, including the flashbacks, and we were thinking he simply may not have had enough time to even do a solo song and that they’d restructured the show around that unfortunate fact – but towards the end of the first act, he has a emotional song, also featuring Joe Walker in which we realised that this is still Harry’s show, this is still Harry’s story, and that we were not going to make it through the show without full-on ugly crying. We can’t post lyrics as it may spoil plot, but things go from funny to poignant pretty quickly. On the Q and A panel the day after the show, the Lang brothers mentioned that a lot of the show is meant to be autobiographical and representative and a lot of what was being said in this song was incredibly heart-wrenching when applied to Darren’s position with StarKid, StarKid’s position with Harry Potter, and the Harry Potter fandom’s position in the world in general. This vibe continued heavily through the second act – while the first act was mostly light, the second act was quite heavy and had an enormous sense of finality and closure in both the script and the songs, which we were told by composer Clark Baxtresser was completely intentional. We (and by we I mean I, you all probably know who is writing this) were crying pretty much all the way through the second act. The writers chose to combine two of the most emotional scenes from the books into one giant mess of sadness.

At the end, yes, Harry finds his place in the world, finds peace with himself, and saves the day while using a reprise of an old favorite song – but it wasn’t really the happiest ending. The characters end up graduating and leaving Hogwarts, and when Harry hugs all the other students goodbye and then goes off separately to speak alone on the stage to ‘Hogwarts’ – to the audience. Our clearest memory of the show, we think, will be when Darren broke character a tiny bit, for a moment alone on that stage, saying thank you and goodbye, and that it had been “totally awesome.” Just those two words, he looked the audience in the eye and used his natural voice. That was for us and I don’t think that anyone there will ever forget it, because Darren will always be in StarKid, but things are changing from here on out and he will never be our Harry again. A chapter is very much closed, for him, for Team StarKid, and even for the StarKid and Harry Potter fandom at large, because we’ve dealt with the last book and the last movie, but we still had this, until now. By the end of the show, either in their last scenes or curtain call, nearly the whole cast was crying, as was most of the audience.

Being at the show was a brilliant and magical experience and we can’t wait for the show to be released on YouTube so that you all can see it and we can review it in more detail. Writers Matt Lang, Nick Lang and Brian Holden do an amazing job of taking parts of canon and mixing them up in ways that you’d never think of and yet suddenly make perfect sense, and, while changing it all around, making fun of it, making it dirty, making it ridiculous, they have always treated this book series with the utmost respect for its true heart and soul and tapped into the emotional core of what Harry Potter is all about. Team StarKid’s time with Harry Potter is over, and maybe someone else will pick up the mantle and make something else that appeals just as much. But there is a reason Team StarKid are what they are, and that they became successful when fandom was dying down, that they became more successful than most wizard rock, parody videos, even other musicals. They are something special, and everyone who drinks their Kool-Aid sees it instantly. Their success will continue – Team StarKid is not going anywhere – but Harry Potter brought them to us and we offer them congratulations and the greatest thanks for doing right by us and sharing with us the final chapter in what is sure to be the just the first book in a long series.

We really loved the first book, though. It might always be our favorite, in a way.

‘The Space Between Us’ set report: What if a human was born on Mars?

Hypable visited the set and spoke to the film's stars.

12:00 pm EST, January 17, 2017

Could a human be born on a distant planet and later survive on earth?

It’s not only a premise that the upcoming science fiction tale The Space Between Us asks, but a real question and concern that people at NASA have considered as well.

Inspired by his son’s obsession with Mars, and the kernel of an idea from another writer he works with, film producer Richard Lewis picked up the phone and posed the question to members of NASA.

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Could a human be born on a distant planet and later survive on earth?

It’s not only a premise that the upcoming science fiction tale The Space Between Us asks, but a real question and concern that people at NASA have considered as well.

Inspired by his son’s obsession with Mars, and the kernel of an idea from another writer he works with, film producer Richard Lewis picked up the phone and posed the question to members of NASA.

He never would’ve guessed what was going to happen when he spoke to them.

“I called a group of NASA scientists and said, ‘So what would happen if an astronaut turned out to be pregnant on a flight to Mars?’ and there was just silence on the other end of the call. And they said, ‘Are you listening to our phone calls?’ I said, ‘No, I’ve never spoken to you in my life.’ And they said, ‘It’s going to happen, and we don’t know what to do.'”

That was when he teamed up with screenwriter Allan Loeb and started fleshing out an answer. “I thought, wow, that’s the beginning of an interesting story.” Lewis even worked with his father, a heart specialist, to examine how that muscle would develop differently on Mars, and aspects of this research became a big part of the story.

The Space Between Us is an interplanetary adventure following a human boy named Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) born on the distant red planet. His mother, an astronaut, only realized she was pregnant with Gardner after leaving on her mission to colonize Mars.

Once Gardner reaches his teenage years he becomes interested in leaving East Texas (yep, on Mars) and returning to the home of his species. Not only is he curious about Earth, but Gardner has also fallen for a girl named Tulsa who’s literally tens of millions of miles away in the state of Colorado. The two met online and can relate over their outsider perspectives.

There’s just one problem: Tulsa doesn’t realize that Gardner is literally living on Mars.

Hypable visited the Albuquerque, New Mexico set of The Space Between Us starring Butterfield, Robertson, and Gary Oldman in late October 2015. On the day we visited, Asa, Britt, and crew were at the tail end of their 37-day shooting schedule which took them through New Mexico, Las Vegas, and Malibu.

It was Day 31, and indoor and outdoor shoots were taking place at Highland High School located in the southeast quadrant of Albuquerque. Since it was a weekday, real classes were in session as Asa and Britt shot outdoor scenes.

The real students who walked by the production had mixed reactions. Some watched and Snapchatted the excitement, while others passed by as if a Hollywood production wasn’t filming right before their eyes. Later in the day, after the real students went home, production moved inside the school to shoot a scene where Gardner and Tulsa meet in person for the first time. It’s one of the more touching moments in the movie.

Earlier, Asa walked into our press tent carrying a drone in tow. He had recently purchased it to try and capture aerial footage for fun, and was learning how to operate it in between filming his scenes.

Both the aerial device and Gardner struggle to deal with Earth’s gravity.

When asked how he handles playing a character who has never been on Earth before, Asa describes it as a very unique experience. “It’s hard to put yourself in that kind of position because we [as humans] are so experienced in the world, and to completely strip all that back and be absolutely in awe at everything you see — a tree, a doorman — everything’s interesting,” he says.

space-between-us-asa-britt

Tulsa (Britt Robertson) experiences zero gravity with Gardner (Asa Butterfield).

Living on Mars your whole life doesn’t mean you’re missing hormones, so girls are also of interest in Gardner. On the relationship between his character and Tulsa, Asa tells us, “They both have this longing desire for being somewhere. Belonging somewhere. Tulsa’s been jumping around through various foster homes, she’s never really settled anywhere. Gardner spends his life on Mars. No one knows he exists. They’re kind of united by this experience.”

“He’s an alien, and she’s an alien, and this is the journey of the story,” Lewis tells us. “Watching these two characters connect, and the disconnects, the misunderstandings, and then ultimately they have a connection.”

Those good and bad connections were present in the scene we observed, which finds Gardner surprising Tulsa in her school hallway. As someone who is tough and reserved, Tulsa is understandably frustrated by Gardner’s sudden appearance. The two still haven’t communicated well with one another — Adorably, Tulsa is unaware that when he says he’s from “East Texas” he means the establishment on Mars.

With Gardner now on earth, the two begin to form a close bond as the Mars-born boy tries to discover his roots.

Co-starring in the movie is Gary Oldman, whose character originally organized the trip to Mars. He wasn’t on set the day we visited, but the actor has a very important role in the movie.

The Space Between Us opens in theaters February 3, 2017.

‘Rogue One’s’ best scene doesn’t involve the heroes

It's a nameless character who saves the day.

8:15 am EST, January 17, 2017

Among the many exceptional scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one of the most poignant ones doesn’t even involve any of the main heroes.

Rogue One  is full of memorable moments, some breathtaking, some endearing in the way we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, and all full of an epic sense of the lengths people will go to in the name of hope. It also stands out because of its representation, with a female main character and a diverse cast of supporting characters. But it’s the scene almost at the very end that makes its story truly unique.

It takes place after Jyn Erso and her band of rebels have already completed their mission, and the Death Star plans that they have given their lives to procure are being physically carried through the Profundity by a single individual, while the ship is under attack. Close at his heels is Darth Vader, finally revealed in all his lightsaber-wielding, terrifying glory, killing rebel soldiers left and right. The door jams in front of the man holding the plans, with only a slight gap left open – just enough for him to fit an arm through and frantically get the device to one of the fleeing rebels on the other side, knowing fully that this is the last action he’ll ever carry out.

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Among the many exceptional scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one of the most poignant ones doesn’t even involve any of the main heroes.

Rogue One  is full of memorable moments, some breathtaking, some endearing in the way we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, and all full of an epic sense of the lengths people will go to in the name of hope. It also stands out because of its representation, with a female main character and a diverse cast of supporting characters. But it’s the scene almost at the very end that makes its story truly unique.

It takes place after Jyn Erso and her band of rebels have already completed their mission, and the Death Star plans that they have given their lives to procure are being physically carried through the Profundity by a single individual, while the ship is under attack. Close at his heels is Darth Vader, finally revealed in all his lightsaber-wielding, terrifying glory, killing rebel soldiers left and right. The door jams in front of the man holding the plans, with only a slight gap left open – just enough for him to fit an arm through and frantically get the device to one of the fleeing rebels on the other side, knowing fully that this is the last action he’ll ever carry out.

This character has no name, and we know nothing about him beyond this scene. But faced by the most fearsome threat and terrible odds, he abandons fighting and uses his dying moments to get the plans across the doomed ship, and to Princess Leia.

It’s not common to see a scene like this one – scenes that convey the power of the collective action of many people across different areas – done so skillfully, especially in movies that are so character-driven.

In Star Wars, we’ve always focused on Luke and Leia and Han, and more recently on Rey, Finn and Poe. Although we knew that the Rebellion was the fruit of the efforts of many, we never had such a clear look into just how many lives were involved.

Rogue One the Rebellion

This final scene brings it all together, tying together the various storylines we know in an epic finale, and finally connecting them to Episode IV in a perfect mix of excitement and nostalgia. Without this character, driven by desperate hope rather than fear of his imminent death, Rogue One’s mission would not have ended successfully, Leia would have never received the plans… and none of the story we already know would have taken place.

For once, it was a character whose face we didn’t even see properly, dressed just like everyone else, fulfilling his own small role in a much bigger mission, who saved the day.

This ending, maybe even more meaningfully than the stories of the heroes we know and love, shows us the very essence of the Rebellion: a movement of dedication and sacrifice, full of people like the ones that died on Scarif, that put themselves between the plans and Vader, that drove the mission to success in their dying moments – and that stopped the race to save their own lives in favor of securing the mission’s objective.

We, as the audience, can find ourselves in the nameless rebel soldier and his sacrifice – a realistic and emotional portrayal of what makes any movement for change possible: the sacrifices of a vast number of people whose names and faces we may never know, whose stories may never be recorded, but whose lives were spent in search of a better future for the generations that follow.

What scene in ‘Rogue One’ impacted you the most?

Sherlock season 4, episode 3 is the last new material fans will see for a very long time. Was it a satisfying farewell to the series?

The Sherlock season 4 finale is a healthy mix of emotional highs and lows. But was it, as co-creators Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss describe, “television history?” No. It was not. It was not even the best episode of the Sherlock series.

However, it is what we have to left to unpack as we leave Holmes at Watson in 221B by the fire. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

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Sherlock season 4, episode 3 is the last new material fans will see for a very long time. Was it a satisfying farewell to the series?

The Sherlock season 4 finale is a healthy mix of emotional highs and lows. But was it, as co-creators Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss describe, “television history?” No. It was not. It was not even the best episode of the Sherlock series.

However, it is what we have to left to unpack as we leave Holmes at Watson in 221B by the fire. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

The final problem

The greatest flaw of Sherlock is when it gets stuck in its own heightened story telling. “The Final Problem” is the perfect example of retelling the past and not giving the audience any new information. It’s not hard to deduce. The episode does not suffer for this. Because it is not about the game at all.

Eurus’ game is well-crafted, brutal, and unforgiving. She is a master. The episode goes above and beyond to prove that over and over. Eurus wants to understand the complexity of human empathy. The only way she can do that is to cut the people open and see what makes their muscles move.

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The maze she crafts tests the resolve of Sherlock, Mycroft, and John. One great example of this is the use of Molly Hooper. It should be noted that Molly Hooper deserves so much better.

Using her love for Sherlock as a weapon, Molly Hooper’s life shatters with three words. Unfortunately, all of this is in service to unravel Sherlock with no resolution on her end.

As he smashes the coffin with his bare hands, John and Mycroft are there to reel him back in. They lend a hand to rebuild the walls that are falling down around him. That is until they literally fall at the doorstep of his childhood home.

The final problem is how do you deliver human connection to someone who does not know how to receive it? That desire to feel that her brothers appreciate her for more than her brain. If Eurus’ favorite person, Sherlock, could just take a moment to play her game, everything can end.

The test, it turns out, is for Sherlock to lean heavily on his capacity for emotional connection throwing logic out of the equation. He makes room for John, Mary, Molly, even Greg in his life. Can he find a way to make room for Eurus in spite of everything he just found out?

“You were always the grown up,” says Mrs. Holmes near the end of the episode. Sherlock takes the family into the next chapter of their life. One where music bridges the gap between them and the entire Holmes family can sit together without words getting in the way.

‘I’m a pirate’

The biggest twist, if you didn’t already work it out for yourself, comes when John discovers the bones of “Redbeard” in the well. They are not dog bones, but the bones of Sherlock’s best childhood friend, Victor.

But the best appearance is by far the inclusion of Mycroft’s Christmas gift — Jim Moriarty.

sherlock season 4 moriarty

Moriarty’s obsession with Holmes begins well before Eurus calls him in for a meeting. But did he succumb to being one of her agents? Probably. But Jim likely steered his own course to Sherlock. But the game… well, the game now reeks of Eurus.

Mycroft Holmes

The Holmes brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, have the most fascinating relationship on Sherlock. “The Final Problem” highlights the complexity of their past and the trajectory of their future.

The most moving scene in the entire episode arrives when Mycroft, John and Sherlock are contemplating the reality of what may be their final moments alive. Hearing that Sherlock appreciated a talent of his, one that is not based on their familial intellect, moves him to a smile. Well before Mycroft sacrifices himself for Sherlock’s partnership with John, he gets the validation that their relationship is full of mutual appreciation.

mycroft sherlock

The minds of the Holmes siblings may be capable of great feats, but no fortress is entirely secure.

Mycroft’s home at the start of the episode is infiltrated by the combination of Holmes and Watson. Later on, his mind’s security system fails. He is a strong, put together person. After years of arranging Sherlock’s safety behind the scenes, it’s time for Sherlock to step up and do the same.

Is there room for more?

Perhaps we will all meet again at Anemoi. In the credits letters it is typical for the editors to highlight certain letters. The final sequence produces just a single word — Anemoi, the meeting place of the four winds.

While the finale ties up loose ends, recreates the scars that affect the duo the most, it does feel more like a beginning than an ending.

Sherlock may or may not return.

Tags: bbc sherlock