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Monday, June 07, 2004

Harry III



Movie Reveiw: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

First let me say, thumbs up. A very well done film in many ways and I give it a hearty recommendation. I might just see it again before it leaves the theaters. Cinematography is excellent. Directing and screenplay are solid, especially getting across that Harry is no longer a small kid to be pushed around (in one scene Harry is screaming that he wants Sirius to find him so that he can kill Sirius - not the unsure youth of the pervious films). Acting is great and having Emma Thompson is a nice touch as Professor Trelawney and Gary Oldman... well he's just Gary Oldman. John Williams score is wonderful. A solid 4 stars.

But...

The film is too short. Azkaban is the longest of the first 3 books and is the shortest of the first 3 movies. They do a great job of condensing it into 142 minutes of film but they should have done of great job with 172 minutes.

The first book/movie is nothing more that the setup. This is Harry, this is Hogwarts, this is Albus Dumbledore, this is "You Know How", etc. While Harry does have a run in with his arch nemesis Lord Valdemort he is just a lost kid that wins only by protection left behind by his mother. In #2 the Chamber of Secrets there is a great amount of further back story and while Harry again "wins" his fight with Valdemort is only because he is pure of heart and not because he's the better wizard. After these two you might think you have the formula down; Harry goes to school, hi-jinks ensue, he bubbles / lucks his way past Valdamort yet again and then school ends. However you'd be wrong.

Azcaban is where the series turns for a much darker bend. It's longer than the first to but in ways just a setup for the 4th book, The Goblet of Fire which is approaching epic at 752 pages. I few reviews I read mentioned that so much was cut it took away a lot of the explanation for why certain things where happening. They seemed befuddled by the sudden cutting of so much when compared to the earlier films but I think I see why. Azkaban isn't 142 minutes vs. 172 because they are afraid 172 is too long for a "family" film it's because if they don't start cutting now then Goblet of Fire is going to be 4 hours long and while it's a good story it aint Hamlet.

Harry Potter is not just a line of Children’s books. Each book is darker, richer with an ever increasing complexity in plot. By the 8th and last book I feel it will simply be beyond the reach of 10 year olds. The upside is we readers get a book series that will honestly grow and mature with the protagonist while the downside is that we viewers will get movies that have a harder and harder time covering the material.

Comments:
Nothing to say about this particular post; I haven't seen the movie yet. The blog I was blathering about on beer 15 that I would like to see blogrolled is: http://www.michaeltotten.com/
 
I hate to be this way...no actually I don't. I can't disagree with you more. This movie was a farce.

First I must say the actors did a very good job. You can see them growing as actors and I'm glad they aren't considering replacing them. That would really drive the nail in the coffin for me.

Now let me bitch and moan.

I don't know where to begin! I understand that you make changes to the story since you can't fit the whole book in, but it was like they made this an art house movie which would explain more why you liked it and I didn't. The whole way it was filmed, the film editing, the characters costumes, the whole layout of the movie. I felt like they had brought in Phillip Glass to give his idea of how Harry Potter should be and when I left I felt cheated like nothing had been resolved. The whole movie would start down and path and switch before any of it was really resolved and unless you read the book things that could have been explained in seconds were left hanging. They put in silly things that didn't happen in the book when there were things they could have used from the book that would have been just as silly and made since. While the music was good it really didn't fit the Harry Potter music we have gotten use to. You can make a movie more dark and mature without changing everything that made the movie enjoyable in the first place. I really think they are going to have a rude awakening because I don't think DVD sales will be as high as the past 2. I can't only hope Christopher Columbus is directing the next one and they make up for this one.
 
Mike Newell is the director currently woking on Goblet of Fire. His big works are Doniie Brasco, Mona Lisa Smile and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Unfortunatly for you I think they will be moving in direction you don't like with the movies. Look on the bright side, more fo you to bitch and moan about.
 
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