Ascendant (aka Allegiant Part Two) Movie cancelled; may be TV movie instead.

Divergent-Allegiant-Movie-PosterThis news broke a couple of days ago on Variety, and has not been confirmed by Lionsgate; but it also has not been denied, so I guess it is true. Allegiant-the-movie (or rather, Allegiant-the-movie-somewhat-loosely-inspired-by Veronica Roth’s-Allegiant-the-novel) failed to scale the high wall of acceptable reviews and–more importantly, no doubt–box office proceeds.  Lionsgate has decided not to proceed with Ascendant-the-movie, but rather will tie up the franchise with a TV movie, that will hopefully launch a new TV series with different characters set in Roth’s dystopia.

divergent_series_ascendantAs the resident Divergent-junkie and Veronica Roth fangirl, I see the news as a mixed bag.  It is crystal-clear that Lionsgate overplayed its hand in thinking they could squeeze four films out of this trilogy, especially when the book they chose to “split,” Allegiant, itself disappointed so many fans. As it was, the Insurgent and Allegiant movies deviated so much from the books that inspired them that I don’t think I’ll miss the fourth movie on the big screen.  There’s also the fact that they basically used up all their source material in the third movie, unless they planned to spend 2 hours killing Tris and scattering her ashes from the Hancock Tower. Link to the Mugglenet academia podcast for more details on this. [Read more…]

See You at the Potter Party in Staunton for the ‘Cursed Child’ Script Release!

QCPPButterbeer, magic cats and birthday cake for Harry— what better way to celebrate the midnight publication of the book of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?  Free events all day, all ages welcome!

I’m on deck for a series of “Magic and the Mind” talks on Harry Potter and psychology. If you are in Central Virginia, please join us beginning at 12 PM in downtown Staunton!

Watch this space (Updated 7/20/2016!!)  for details, or check out the Facebook page.



Matthew Lewis Q & A at Awesome Con

Matthew header

When I won a Saturday pass to Awesome Con 2016, courtesy of The Group Who Shall Not Be Named, tops on my list was to see the Q & A panel with Matthew Lewis, the actor who portrayed Neville Longbottom, one of my favorite Harry Potter characters.

NevilleI didn’t take notes, but here are some interesting points he shared in response to fan questions:

  • If he could choose a patronus, it would be a panda.
  • The first scene he filmed was Madame Hooch’s flying lesson.  The last was his courtyard showdown scene with Voldemort.  He could not remember the speech he gave, though.
  • He had to buy the books like everyone else to learn what would happen to his character.  JKR offered to tell him when they were filming Order of the Phonenix, but he decided he did not want to know.
  • He hates the way he delivered the “You and what army?” line in Deathly Hallows II and cringes every time he sees it.
  • If he were to play an adult character in Harry Potter, he would want to be Remus Lupin.  Lupin and Sirius Black were his favorite characters. If he could have been cast as a different child character, he would have wanted to be Draco Malfoy.
  • He is still good friends with his peers from the cast.  Emma Watson sent him a birthday video from the Beauty and the Beast set.
  • Finally, he gave a touching tribute to Alan Rickman, saying he was a wonderful person who had taught him a lot. He was actually visiting the set of Fantastic Beasts when he learned of his passing, and said it was quite surreal to be in the Harry Potter-type environment when he was grieving his loss.


Preview of Veronica Roth’s New Book, Carve the Mark, Now Available Online

ctm-ew1Carve the Mark, Veronica Roth’s next book, is set for publication next January.  However, eager readers can get a preview of Chapter 7 here.

The series is being promoted as science fiction rather than dystopia, so the tone of the series will likely be quite different. However, the preview suggests quite a few parallels with Divergent: an orphan female narrator born with a special gift that makes her both powerful and vulnerable, fancy knife work, and a brother who’s a really nasty piece of work.

And no doubt the scores of Allegiant Abhorers will be relieved to hear that this is intended to be a two-part series rather than a trilogy.  What will be interesting to me is if this series proves to be as strongly rooted in psychology as Divergent was.  Good science fiction usually starts with at least some grounding in science, and I am hoping the behavioral neuroscience will be front and center again.

Update: Another article provides much the same information, but adds the tidbit that Ms. Roth has developed a “fascination” with North Korea, the familial political dynasty and what it means for the son to grow up with a dictator for a father.  Then she goes on to say North Korea “was not a direct line of inspiration” for her new series.

Given that she had an “obsession” with personality testing prior to writing Divergent, and the Factions wound up as perfectly analogous to the Big Five Factors–Ms Roth’s claimed lack of planning notwithstanding–I’d recommend reading up on North Korea before starting Carve the Mark.

Just don’t look it in the eyes…

BasiliskI recently had the privilege of chaperoning a Mary Baldwin College field ornithology May term course in Costa Rica. Among the interesting critters I got to see and photograph  were real-life basilisks in the wild. I even got to see a few do their two-legged run across the water. No one got petrified, but they are fascinating creatures.