Does Broad Strokes’ New Film Leave us Saying “Mischief Managed”?

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Posted April 7, 2016 by Sam Liggett in Movies

  As both a Harry Potter fan and an avid consumer of fan created content, I have really enjoyed seeing the journey that Broad Strokes Productions has undertaken in the last two years.  After the smashing success of their first film, “The Greater Good”, Broad Strokes set out to give fans another untold story, this time concerning our favorite mapmaking quartet.

Not long after vowing that they were “up to no good”, the Marauders have fulfilled that oath and then some. Featuring a confrontation between a young Severus Snape and his schoolmates James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew (colloquially known as the Marauders), the new film does a good job of telling a chapter of their lives as of yet untold.

James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter hit the town for a drink.

James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter hit the town for a drink.

The film has seen some acclaim already, even though it’s only been available to the public for a month, but it has also been the subject of some discontent. Fans of the original Marauders claim that the whole premise is flawed, that James behaves uncharacteristically in goading Snape into a fight. I respectfully disagree. At its core, this is a film about five seventeen year old boys fighting over the affections of a girl. James is a spoiled rich boy who has had everything from school to sports come easily to him, and the only thing he has ever had to work for, Lily’s affection, is not something he is going to let anyone forget that he’s won. Most importantly he is not going to allow Severus Snape, the poor and poorly groomed dark arts aficionado, the absolute antithesis of everything that James is, forget that he’s a loser. 

Overall, the film is quite good, with only a couple of major missteps. Early in the film Snape is asked for ID at a pub, something which doesn’t seem to be a part of the Wizarding world, but which is used as a way to expand on his state of mind. It really drew me out of the moment the filmmakers were trying to create when the first lines of the film were something that we have no indication would ever actually happen. Honestly, I understand why they did it, but I wish they’d used a different method of displaying Snape’s angst.

The second big failing in this piece was the use of Fiendfyre against Snape. Fans of the movies will remember it as a big ball of flames that almost killed Harry, Ron, and Hermione near the end of Deathly Hallows, while book fans will have a little more background and know that the spell is extremely difficult to control and indiscriminate in what it destroys. The use of the spell itself, multiplied four times over (each marauder casts the spell) is excessive unless they’re on a path to outright murder Snape, and the visual effects of having each character’s patronus embodied in flame was just a little too cheesy for me.

Snape watches the Marauders try to brutally murder him.

Snape watches the Marauders try to brutally murder him.

The actors, on the other hand, have done an excellent job of embodying characters that we really know very little about, and making them come alive in believable and relatable ways. Mick Ignis in particular did a fabulous job of portraying Severus Snape, as I suspected he would from the moment I found out he’d been cast. The entire cast worked really well together, giving performances that weave together existing stories and characteristics into a warm and believable cohort of long-time friends (and their requisite enemy). As we watch, this group of overwrought teens battle one another in beautifully choreographed flashes of light, and not once does someone act or react in a way that I can’t wrap my head around (outside of the Fiendfyre, that is). Dani Jae shines as Lily Evans, and the touching moment between she and Severus is made bittersweet by her practicality.  Even Peter Pettigrew (you might know him as Wormtail, or even Scabbers) gets a standout moment where, while his dearest friends are all incapacitated, he tries to sweet talk Snape into letting him go and teaching him some Dark magic.

Peter is a rat. A dirty, dirty rat.

Peter is a rat. A dirty, dirty rat.

Broad Strokes has hit another home run by bringing some of the most beloved but least seen characters from the Potter books to the screen, and I hope they continue to do so for years to come.  With a standout cast, killer music, quality effects, and a brilliant concept pushed by a passionate director and crew, this is not a short film to overlook or a company to write off.


About the Author

Sam Liggett

Sam enjoys books and coffee (preferably in tandem) as well as card and board games. She lives in an attic and watches Pokemon (nearly) every day with her husband and their tiny human.