Monday, July 12, 2004

@ the movies: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Are you part of HP fandom?

Can't say I am a fan. I've only read the first two books and only after the movies came out. Having said that though, I am enjoying the films and the books. The books are quick reads and enjoyable and even though I'm a middle-aged person, I still find the "finding your place in the world" and "self-discovery" of the Potter character quite interesting and moving.

The third installment is getting generally good reviews.

I finally saw the film Monday evening. In brief: 3 stars out of 4.

I think this episode is the best so far. The first two films, at times, gave me this feeling: we are going through the motions of making these movies because they will make boatloads of money. I didn't sense that in this edition. The young characters and the actors are growing into the roles nicely. The pacing of the story was good (they kept the Quidditch playing to a minimum this go around) and I liked how the concluding act was played out. Not having read the third book, I didn't know how the story would play out. Being a little on the dense side, I didn't forecast the plot twist so I was impressed.

Really loved Emma Thompson in her guest role. Michael Gambon has ably taken up Dumbledore. I also very much liked David Thewlis as the new Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts.

I was told that the books get "darker" as you go along. Indeed, visually, this film was literally darker than the first two films which is probably more in line with the flavor of the books. And the film visually darker feel tracks with the story telling where the Potter character is becoming more complex.

Finally, a few words about John Williams' score. I know we have some difference of opinion on his talents and I'm sure his work on this film and the Potter films in general won't shift anyone's views. In this go around, Williams got the chance to have a little fun scoring the multi-decker bus romp through busy streets at the beginning of the film. Beyond that though, the music is adequate. The main Potter theme is nice but beyond that the score doesn't really stand out but it did avoid being bombastic and distracting from the film which is sometimes a knock on some of his works.

For a big round up of reviews check here.

In the many minutes of trailers before the film I'm looking forward to: I, Robot which I maybe seeing on Thursday in a pre-release promotional showing and Thunderbirds which could be a total disaster but I grew up watching the puppet based TV show!



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