The recently-released The Great Gatsby trailer has been highly divisive within the fandom, particularly due to the addition of modern elements and an apparent diversion from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. What does the trailer tell us about Baz Luhrmann’s treatment and interpretation of this literary classic, and what can we expect from the forthcoming film?

FITZGERALD VS LUHRMANN

It’s probably best to get this out of the way first. We have all been victim to the feeling of disappointment that inevitably comes when the film adaptations of our favourite books don’t meet our expectations. It is immediatley apparent from the trailer that this is a Baz Luhrmann production – it isn’t Fitzgerald on screen. Anyone going to the cinema expecting a strict retelling of Gatsby is going to be disappointed.

It is going to be over-the-top and it is going to be a spectacle. That is what Baz Luhrmann does, and he does it very well. There has been a fairly strong reaction to the trailer, but it would be practically impossible to translate Fitzgerald’s vision to screen, as his Gatsby is linked so intrinsically to his writing. Best to view the two as separate entities, and enjoy them as such.

MODERN ELEMENTS

Many will disagree, but we loved the trailer music and overly saturated colours. The colours just heightened the viewing experience, and so this is the jazz era – does it matter? Of course, hopefully Luhrmann also includes some era-appropriate music, and not withstanding the fact that trailer music won’t necessarily appear in the film, the tone of the music suited the plot immensely, even if the genre didn’t.

3D AND EFFECTS

We know that Luhrmann decided to film in Sydney instead of on location in New York because so much of the city was going to have to be digitally altered to recreate New York of the 1920s. The skyline was gorgeous, and we’re sure that these broader shots will be where 3D is really featured, as well as in the party scenes. There was something funny about the cars, we can’t decide if they weren’t finished or it was a stylistic choice to make them out of place – either way it was slightly jarring.

VOICE-OVERS AND FLASHBACKS

The opening quote may not have been from Gatsby, but it was still Fitzgerald, so we’ll take it. It was used brilliantly to set up the context of the story; although hopefully this doesn’t mean Maguire will be doing one film-length voice-over to try to fill in the gaps where in the novel, we hear Nick’s thoughts. Overuse of a voice-over will just take the viewer out of the world Luhrmann has created, which would be a shame.

The flashbacks looked out of place just based on the colouring. Maybe in a longer sequence it won’t be as jarring, but as a split-second flash in an otherwise overly bright trailer, it stuck out every time. However, flashbacks mean we will be getting some Gatsby war backstory (and maybe some for Nick too?), and that will be great, just as long as they are used sparingly. Please.

PLOT FOCUS

Based on the trailer, the biggest shift we can see from Fitzgerald’s novel is the focus on the Gatsby-Daisy love story, which seems to essentially be the plot of the film. The book was really about Nick and his interactions with this group of people who happened to be involved in a love-triangle/quadruple/mess; if Luhrmann’s interest lies in making this a love story, we can deal, as long as Nick’s character isn’t sacrificed in the process. It would be a shame to lose all the brilliant wit of the novel for the sake of making Moulin Rouge 2.0.

CASTING

THE WOMEN

Despite any prior misgivings, we are in love with Carey Mulligan’s delicate, wispy Daisy. We hope the sardonic element of her character is also included, but this was a very promising start. Similarly, Elizabeth Debicki was a wonderful surprise, although of course an unknown actress wasn’t going to have been cast without merit. Finally Isla Fisher as Myrtle was fabulous, while we didn’t get to see much of her, what we did had just the right touch of hysteria.

THE MEN

This is the biggest problem with the trailer – Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. We didn’t get to see a huge range of emotions from him in the trailer, mainly just this vaguely worried/irritated face. If this is all he’s got, this will be a disaster. Similarly with Tobey Maguire as Nick – Nick has a great wit, which we have yet to see from Maguire, but hopefully it will be included in the film. Finally, there’s Joel Edgerton as the bullying Tom. He looks the part, let’s just hope he gets a lot angrier in the film than he does in the trailer.

LITERARY ROOTS

METAPHORS AND SYMBOLISM

Without going too English Literature class on you, let’s take a minute to celebrate the inclusion of many of Fitzgerald’s genius metaphors. Essentially, The Great Gatsby is one giant metaphor, but still, it was so exciting to see Owl Eyes, and the looming eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, even if they both end up to be throwaway images. Now let’s just see DiCaprio mooning over that green light. We also hope to see the symbolism of the different classes of people as indicated by the East Egg/West Egg divide. Okay, end of class.

COSTUMES AND LOCATIONS

Oh wow, those costumes. Take a bow Catherine Martin (costume designer), because you are a 1920s genius. Also, Gatsby’s mansion was gorgeous, gaudy, and amazing. The costumes and the settings really anchored the film in the 1920s. Of course, the party scenes were a bit too grandiose, but it’s Baz Luhrmann so that should be expected. If there is one thing Luhrmann does well, it is style. His films always look stunning, even when they have very little, or nothing at all to say.

ANTICIPATION?

Despite the multitude of changes, and being devoted Fitzgerald readers, we are really looking forward to the film release. So maybe it will end up being a bit more of a love story with some Kanye West thrown in. Maybe DiCaprio was a poor choice, or the cars look a bit funny. The first half of the trailer still built up the anticipation of Gatsby’s reveal, and then shifted immediately from the glamourous parties to the more menacing undertones of Gatsby’s life.

This fall into decline was the entire point of Fitzgerald’s novel. He proposed that the wealth and fast-paced lifestyle were symptoms of a deeper problem, a desperate greed, corruption and emptiness that purveyed this decade of history and mirrored the decline of the ‘American Dream’. We hope to see this more fully developed in the film, but from the trailer we do feel like Luhrmann did understand this theme.

In the end, it could be a complete trainwreck, although a beautiful one a la Australia, or it could be a Romeo and Juliet style masterpiece – with Luhrmann it can be hard to tell. The trailer left us feeling hopeful and excited for the final product, and satisfied that despite the many changes, the production team do get what Gatsby is really about.

Now let’s see if they can pull it off.

What were your thoughts on the trailer? Did you like the incorporation of modern elements, or would you have prefered a stricter book-to-film adaptation?

The Harry Potter play Cursed Child opens in a week, and we’ve just got our first look at Ginny Potter née Weasley. But not everyone is impressed.

Harry Potter fans have long ago resigned themselves to the fact that Ginny Weasley, badass Quidditch superstar and Voldemort possession survivor, is doomed to exist on the fringes of the story.

Despite her undiluted badassery, Ginny floated on the edge of canon throughout the Harry Potter book series, and for this reason, there are unfortunately many fans who simply don’t see Ginny as anything other than Harry’s only heterosexual ticket into the OBHWF.

But while Hermione Granger (rightfully) takes up most of the spotlight as far as female representation is concerned, J.K. Rowling actually created an equally important female character in Ginny Weasley, despite — or maybe because — of her absence from Harry’s part of the story.

Related: 9 reasons why Ginny Weasley’s cooler than the movies give her credit for

Reading the book saga closely will reveal that Ginny Weasley was actually better than everyone (and she knew it). And the fact that she got to be such a quietly confident BAMF, without Harry ever being consciously aware of it (though clearly it made an impression!), definitely meant a lot to me as a young girl growing up Potter.

Ginny may not have been the Chosen One, or the Chosen One’s best friend, but she kicked ass — and continued to kick ass — whether or not anyone gave her credit for it.

Let’s recap the awesomeness of Ginny Weasley:

  • Ron may have been Harry’s best friend, but his little sister was the seventh Weasley child and the first girl in seven generations. Talk about your magic number!
  • By all accounts, she was an immensely powerful witch: Growing up with six brothers made her resilient and hard-working, and she seemed to have the same extraordinary raw talent as Fred and George (but she applied herself more).
  • She was possessed by Voldemort in her first year at Hogwarts, literally making her the only person even remotely qualified to understand what Harry was going through. This came to a head in Order of the Phoenix, when it was Ginny of all people who stood up to Harry and told him that he was being stupid.
  • She overcame her crush on Harry and went on to have a rich and interesting social life which didn’t involve him. When Harry finally noticed and fell in love with her, she didn’t let that slow her down.
  • She stood up for both Neville and Luna, clearly cool and self-confident enough not to care what anyone thought of her companions (unlike Harry, who was far more judgemental towards both Luna and Neville).
  • She was a professional Quidditch player, even taking Harry’s place as Seeker for a while before landing a spot as Chaser while still at Hogwarts.

For all this, Ginny never really amounted to the ‘fourth member of the trio’ fans might have hoped for ahead of Deathly Hallows. She didn’t join Harry, Ron and Hermione on the Horcrux hunt (solely because Harry wanted to ‘protect’ her), and yet her badassery continued to assert itself behind the scenes, as she joined Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts and fought in the ensuing battle.

To me, it always felt like the essence of Ginny, the soul of this character, simply would not be repressed no matter how much J.K. Rowling tried to bench her (and the benching in itself was not an issue; Ginny was never meant to be a main character, and as laid out above, it actually worked to her benefit).

Ginny Harry 2

But unfortunately, the Harry Potter movies have done a lot to undo the subtle ways in which Rowling empowered Ginny between the lines. With Ginny’s value in the story mostly inferred rather than expressly stated, it clearly became as easy of a subplot to trim away as Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party.

Ginny had hardly any presence in the movies at all, peaking in Chamber of Secrets (because they couldn’t completely ignore her in that one) and otherwise having only a few scattered, out-of-context moments of empowerment that still paled in comparison to the material given to characters like Fred and George, Draco, Luna, and Neville. Heck, even made-up character Nigel had more of a presence in the movies than Ginny did.

And of course it didn’t help that Bonnie Wright (who is a talented actress — check out After the Dark and see for yourself) had no chemistry with Dan Radcliffe, and that they gave the best Harry/Ginny moment of the series to Ron/Lavender for some inexplicable reason.

But still she married Harry, and still they had three kids (all of whom were named after people important to Harry, but alright). The One Big Happy Weasley Family prophecy came true, and all was well…

Until now. (Dun dun dunnn.)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens for previews in London next week, and everyone’s excited for the trio and their kids to return. Once again Ginny is getting second billing, not being announced as part of the main cast, but rather revealed a week before the show opens, along with a photograph of Poppy Miller in character:

ginny_potter_poppy_miller

There’s also a family portrait of Ginny, Harry and their son Albus, with Ginny holding on to her youngest son protectively (there’s that mother’s love again), kicking us in the feels because it’s pretty much exactly what Harry saw when he looked into the Mirror of Erised:

l-r Harry Potter (Jamie Parker), Albus Potter (Sam Clemmett), Ginny Potter (Poppy Miller)

And I actually love this. I love that Ginny is included (especially since, um, Harry’s other two kids are nowhere to be seen), front and center by Harry’s side.

As far as her clothes go, no, I’m not a fan. They remind me too much of movie-Ginny’s getup in the epilogue, and it’s just not what I’d imagine she’d wear. But it’s just an outfit; it doesn’t actually tell us anything about Ginny’s role in the play, so I’m not too worried about that.

What I am worried about is the fact that she’d be revealed here as part of Harry’s Erised fantasy. It’s doubtless we’ll see more character reveals over the coming days, and Harry will likely factor into more constellations (notably the Ron-Hermione-Harry group photo we’re all waiting for). Ginny probably won’t.

I’m worried that Ginny’s role in this story will amount to being Harry’s wife and Albus’ mom. Not that J.K. Rowling hasn’t full well established that The Power of Motherhood pretty much overrules everything else, but that’s not what Ginny is — or, rather, that’s not all she is. As much as I love Molly Weasley, Ginny represented a different kind of female character. I hope the play stays true to that.

ginny

As a long-time Ginny fan used to everyone overlooking and under-utilizing this fantastic character, I’m just desperately hoping now that the eighth Harry Potter story will give us the Ginny we know from the books, rather than her inferior on-screen counterpart. While Cursed Child isn’t and shouldn’t be about her, I’m hoping this is Ginny’s chance to reclaim some of the agency the movies robbed her of.

And call me an optimist, but I’m hopeful that this is exactly what Cursed Child is gonna give us. I trust that J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany don’t let the movies’ depiction of Ginny influence what is supposed to be the next installment of the book series.

In J.K. Rowling’s own words on Pottermore, Poppy Miller’s Ginny will be, “Kind and cool, exactly as I imagined her.” It’s not the bat-bogey hexing firecracker we know and love, but hey, everyone grows up, right? So even if we get just a couple of scenes with Ginny, let’s presume she’ll be her badass, Quidditch player self, and that she’ll be given space to exist in her own right, rather than as a prop in Harry’s perfect family.

She may not have been the most important character in Harry Potter, but she was my favorite, and Cursed Child has an opportunity to undo the damage the movies did to this fantastic, empowering heroine. Let’s hope they take it.

Are you looking forward to seeing Ginny Potter in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’?

Ever since ABC canceled Agent Carter, fans have been fighting to bring it back. Now, Hayley Atwell has joined the fight as well.

Agent Carter‘s cancellation left its fans devastated, but — just like Peggy Carter herself — they’re not about to give up without a fight.

ABC’s decision to cut ties with the ailing show, as well as choosing not to pick up Marvel’s Most Wanted, allegedly came as part of a programming overhaul led by new entertainment chief Channing Dungey. According to ScreenRant, Dungey wants to move away from serialized programming in favor of “close-ended episodic procedurals.”

But Agent Carter doesn’t need ABC. Agent Carter needs fan support, a new home, and some goodwill from Marvel.

It’s definitely got plenty of fans fighting for its renewal, with the Change.org petition Save Agent Carter having amassed over 110,000 signatures to date, and many other fan projects in the works to spread awareness for the show.

And, during a panel at MegaCon in Orlando over the weekend, star Hayley Atwell confirmed that she’d be down to reprise her role if the opportunity arose.

“YES. 100%. I love Peggy. I love the people working on this project. [It would be] a privilege and an honor to bring her back to the fans,” said Atwell, as quoted on Twitter. “I’d shoot on the weekends. Blue serum. Whatever it takes.”

Atwell isn’t the only star lending their voice to the movement. Bridget Regan (Dottie Underwood) RT’d the aforementioned petition on Twitter, and also wrote this short but important message:

Meanwhile Lotte Verbeek (Anna Jarvis) and Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) both attended the MCM London Comic-Con, and both had heartening words for Agent Carter fans.

Via Comic Book Resources, Verbeek told panel attendees, “You guys were just amazing supporting it and I’m sorry it got canceled. I feel like we’re kinda letting you guys down — but it wasn’t my decision, unfortunately.”

Cooper, arguably the most ‘unavailable’ of the bunch, has also confirmed that not only would he be down to reprise his role as Howard Stark, but he also sees “hope” for the cancelled series.

“There may be more story to tell, and what’s wonderful about streaming sites is that while it may have been the end of the road, now there’s hope that it might not be,” Cooper said during MCM (as quoted by CBR).

“I know James [D’Arcy] and Hayley, the fact that people have gotten behind it and want to see it return means a huge amount to them … I’m well up for doing more Howard Stark and I know they’re up for doing more of their characters, so fingers crossed.”

Related: Thank you, Agent Carter

But actor goodwill aside, the question still remains: Will a streaming site, whether it be Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, actually pick up Agent Carter?

It seems to us that, if nothing else, a one-off special (similar to the 2013 short that landed Peggy her TV series in the first place) or a limited series wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility — if Marvel actually acknowledges Peggy’s continued importance to the MCU, even after her canonical death in Captain America: Civil War.

Saving Agent Carer would be fan service in the most positive sense of the words, giving us the wrap-up Peggy’s story deserves and proving that Marvel, if not ABC, knows her value.

Here’s to more Agent Carter! Make it happen, TPTB!

Dan Aykroyd loves the new ‘Ghostbusters’ movie

As the "originator of the original," let's listen to him.

6:31 am EDT, May 31, 2016

Dan Aykroyd, star and creator of the original Ghostbusters, has seen the 2016 reboot. And he liked it.

“As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!”

This is what Dan Aykroyd wrote on his Facebook page. Evidently, he is very pleased with Paul Feig’s re-imagining of his 1980s comedy classic.

And this isn’t the first time he’s offered endorsement of the contentious reboot (which Aykroyd is also producing and cameoing in). Earlier this year, he wrote on Twitter:

Despite everyone and their father already having made up their minds about this particular reboot, all we’ve actually had to go on so far have been a few trailers, Paul Feig and the cast’s infectious enthusiasm, and generalized opinions about Hollywood reboots/the cast.

But now that test screenings are beginning to roll out, we can finally begin to get a real sense of what this movie is actually gonna be like.

And if anyone’s opinion should hold some clout, it’s Dan Aykroyd’s. He not only starred as one of the original Ghostbusters, but came up with the concept and co-wrote both of the previous films.

Of course his comments haven’t gone over well with everyone. When he says it has “more laughs and more scares” than Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 combined, many people have taken that to mean that he thinks the new one is better than the original — but it’s worth noting that that’s not actually what he said.

Related: New Ghostbusters trailer updates the title to Ghostbusters: Answer the Call

The original Ghostbusters (if not its sequel) was a masterpiece, and Aykroyd isn’t suggesting anything different. He’s merely suggesting that there’s a higher quantity of funny and scary scenes in the reboot. Which, knowing Paul Feig (who blew us away with Bridesmaids and Spy), makes a lot of sense.

The important takeaway here is that Aykroyd seems to genuinely enjoy the new Ghostbusters movie. Regardless of your feelings on the original, the new one can still be fantastic, and if anyone would know, it’d be Aykroyd.

At the end of the day, the new movie really is a win-win for fans — it’s an excuse to dust off our old merchandise, and we’ll get to see an exciting new team take on the iconic monsters. July can’t come soon enough!

‘Ghostbusters’ premieres July 15, 2016