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June 8, 2004

"Prisoner of Azkaban" will hold audiences captive

by Grace Harter, Page Editor
The latest Harry Potter movie, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," is Hollywood's most recent stab at adapting the wildly successful Harry Potter books to film. So far, the previous two Harry Potter movies have grossed a pile of money but not much respect from the critics.

"Prisoner of Azkaban" is about to change all that. Darker and grittier than the previous two films, this one boasts a new director, new characters, and a very different take on Harry's magical world.

"Azkaban" is the next chapter in the Harry Potter series. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is informed that the dark wizard Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a convicted murderer, has escaped from Azkaban Prison. He wants to kill Harry to avenge the death of his master, evil Lord Voldemort. (For those of you that have been living in a cave for the past few years, Harry Potter is famous because he defeated Voldemort when he was only a baby). Sirius was one of Voldemort's most faithful servants, disclosing the secret hiding place of Harry's parents (allowing Voldemort to murder them), and viciously killing another one of the Potters' friends, Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall).

Alfonso Cuarón, who previously directed "A Little Princess" and the racy "Y Tú Mama Tambien", brings an edge to this third Potter film. The general tone of the movie is somber, and the scenes are filled with dark shadows and dim light. The cameras keep up with the general fast pace of the film, swooping audiences between tree branches and above the beautiful mountain scenery. Cuarón also introduces the dementors, creatures that feed on happy memories and render victims soulless after they perform their infamous kiss. The audience is alerted to the dementors' presence when the atmosphere suddenly turns frigid and dark, and any water present in the scene freezes over. There's nothing eerier than watching their gaunt figures in flowing black robes dive toward the hapless protagonists.

The most impressive architecture in the film (and newly added, undoubtedly the vision of Cuarón) is the large clock situated in the stone tower of Hogwarts. Its pendulum swings ominously over the entrance to the school and represents not only the time passing in the film, but also the maturing of the young witch and wizards. As the seasons go by, with slow blurring and fading between each season, Harry, Ron, and Hermione realize the responsibilities they must assume now that they are coming of age. The climax of the film also hinges on time travel; for a fun little cameo, look at the beginning of the movie for Stephen Hawkings' famous book "The History of Time" being read by a wizard in a bar.

The third film also provides the audience with a closer look at the three main characters, though it excludes some of the older and more established actors. Veteran actors like Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, and Emma Thompson, who play, respectively, Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape, and Professor Trelawney, are given a small amount of screen time to make room for further character development of Ron, Harry, Hermione, and the newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus Lupin (David Thewlis). Michael Gambon, the new Dumbledore, brings fun and humor to the role that was previously played very dryly by the late Richard Harris. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint (playing Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley) do respectable jobs as Harry's two best friends; Watson is likeable as the feisty and intelligent Hermione, and Grint brings humor to his role as Harry's silly sidekick. Radcliffe himself, however, could be a little less blank and staid throughout the film; one would expect a little more emotion coming from someone who was being hunted by a murderous lunatic.

"Prisoner of Azkaban" is clearly the best Harry Potter film yet. Purists may take issue with some major omissions made in the movie, but as a film it was well-paced and well done. Caurón sticks to the main story, a smart move considering the length of the actual book; anybody looking for any further fleshing out of Harry's wondrous world would do well to go and read about it. The old saying does hold true: the book is better than the movie. However, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" makes a pretty good effort.

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" runs 142 minutes and is rated PG for frightening moments, creature violence and mild language.

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  • Chad (View Email) on June 8, 2004
    Wonderfull article. Now I can't wait to go see the movie.
  • bob pearce (View Email) on June 8, 2004
    No doubt the length of the book dictated the content of the movie. However; I doubt that I could have found continuity through the gaps and omissions had I not read the book.

    Perhaps impossible, no doubt impractical, but to do the book and the series justice there cetainly lies enough material for two films.

    Unlike the review author I found the movie fell short of the first two and did not do the book or Ms. Rowling justice.

    bob pearce
  • Dwi Nur Kusumawati (View Email) on June 9, 2004
    Prisoner of Azakaban is an interesting film, but better for the summarize of this movie you can put the picture. For me where come from Indonesia,get the information for this movie late!!so if i compare the information aboard in this country so far i you know if the first time this movie launch in may,i can see at the century for prisoner of Azakaban in December. So late!!!!
    But i give 5 thumbs for this movie,score type like in Chips Magazine....... ;-)
  • Soumitra Ghosh (View Email) on June 9, 2004
    Stephen Hawking's book is titled "A Brief History of Time" and not "The History of Time".

  • Ryan Egan (View Email) on June 9, 2004
    I don't agree with the author of this article... Grace is extremely biased... I am a 19 y/o from America and I clearly believe the third film to be the worst in the series! I am an addicted Harry Potter fan, and I have read all of the Harry Potter books three times each. Not only does the director slander J.k. Rowlings' work but he also misses out on very important details in the movie! For example, can anyone tell me why exactly were the Hogwarts students not in their proper school robes during the entire film? Since when do witches and wizzards shop at American Eagle?? The answer is, they DON'T! I hope those huge sums of money are not involved in the grossing of this film! Richard Harris as Dublebore was one of the most perfect characters I have ever seen on film! Had the author bothered to read Harry Potter, she would have realized that Dumbledore's character is rather dry, untill provoked... He also displays feelings of power which only Richard Harris can create... This article is slanderous to the hoards of Harry Potter fans including myself... Kids go to see the movie and read the books for their magical and uplifting qualities... All of which have been lost in this film.... =(
  • Daniel Bates '01 (View Email) on June 9, 2004
    Mr. Egan -
    Don't be so narrow-minded. "Slander" the original material? I'm the first to admit that maybe the movie left out a few too many details, but the feel was SPOT-ON. The change to non-robe outfits I felt made the movie feel more natural. The wizarding world was not forced on the viewer in this film; rather, it was simply taken as natural. I thought this was a great movie. If Cuaron took liberties with the source material to keep the feel consistant, that's his prerogative and perfectly appropriate.

    P.S. - I am also a rabid HP fan, and the only change that bothered me was them leaving out the Moony/Padfoot/Wormtail/Prongs thing - that was REALLY important to the story.
  • Cecilia on June 9, 2004
    you have made me want to see this movie! you evil creature...
  • Lillie on June 9, 2004
    I agree with Ryan. I thought this was the worst of the movies and what was with the sudden set change from the last to movies?! i was highly disappointed w/ this movie.
  • spencer (View Email) on June 9, 2004
    you are the worst person in the world!!!!!!!!!!!
  • A senior on June 9, 2004
    Lillie, the "sudden set change from the last two movies" was a result of the change in directors...

    obviously, each director is entitled to his own artistic creativity/freedom...
  • Synthia Mariadhas on June 9, 2004
    Yay Grace! Your first Chips article! And sadly, it's about Harry Potter. "For those of you that have been living in a cave for the past few years..." Haha nice.
  • Minh Huynh-Le on June 9, 2004
    I also thought that HP3 was kinda sucky. The author says that the director sticks to the main plot, but in a way that's not true. And it left out way too much. I was really excited about seeing it on opening night but after I saw it I was extrememly disappointed.
  • Lisa06er on June 10, 2004
    YEAH GRACE!!!! I don't understand how anyone could be dissappointed with this movie. It was more artistic than the other 2. And the sudden scene changes were a definite upgrade. The new scenes made the grounds much more magical. And the new Dumbledore is better than Richard Harris, may he rest in peace. And I completely agree with Daneil Bates. The movie had a much more natural feel. And the only thing I hated was the abscence of the MWPP backstory. I ended up explaining the entire backstory to my friends who hadn't read the book. And as for the movie changing the book, all movie adaptions do that. So don't complain untill you can find a movie that follows it's book word for word. And another GOOD JOB GRACE!!! For your first article.
  • Rachel (View Email) on June 11, 2004
    Great Artical! I cant wait to see the movie
  • sam levine on June 12, 2004
    um...this movie got crappy reviews. I dont care much for reviews myself, but with an under developed plot, poor acting, fast pace, and hollywood grease, perhaps the critics are right...
  • PeaRtoNy on June 16, 2004
    Good JoB, Grace!!! I didn't know this article has been up until I found it today. I really liked the movie more than the first two! The tone has changed, and that's just something from the book. I can only wish the book wasn't left out that much...It's gonna be PERFECT!!!

    I Love Daniel Radcliffe anyway!!! Third time for the movie, baby!!!
  • Lisa06er on June 24, 2004
    I don't know which reviews you read, cause all the ones I read said the movie was awesome, which it was. The only review I read that said it was bad was by some lady who had never read ANY of the books or seen ANY of the movies. I think she said that Shrek 2 was bad too. So obviously, she was misinformed.
  • Nikki (View Email) on October 18, 2005 at 5:19 PM
    Cool book and movie I LOVE it bye bye
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