Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Warning: this review contains SPOILERS from the third Harry Potter movie.

The Prisoner of Azkaban has a decidedly different feel to it than the previous two movies in the series. I figure that has a lot to do with the new director, and the shuffling of scenery at Hogwarts. I'll admit, the atmospheric environment of the shooting location is beautiful, and adds a whole new character to Hogwarts.

I suppose this movie is fairly popular, because nine times out of ten I've seen a Harry Potter movie playing on television, it's been this one. It is both a less childish movie, and one with a more nuanced, self-contained plot. Despite having seen some scenes from it out of context, that really didn't spoil the movie for me because the plot is rather intricate - friends who are enemies becoming friends that transform into enemies... It's all a bit confusing. (Seeing the "confrontation" scene in the Shrieking Shack for at least the third time - this time in context - only slightly helped me to understand just exactly what was going on and who was on whose side). And the time travel further complicates things, though it is a brilliant device. Everyone loves a good time traveling plot. And each time Hermione materialized in class out of thin air, that was so cute. She's amazing.

"You really are the brightest witch of your age."

The characters, now third-years, are visibly maturing. Emma looks a lot different in this movie compared to the previous two, and I suspect it's a combination of her growth (the little girl is now an adolescent), and the fact that the characters spend a lot of time in civilian clothes, rather than their school uniforms. But, Emma looks fantastic. Even bruised and cut up, and covered in dirt, her natural beauty shines through it all. Plus, that pink hoodie is cute.

"Oh yeah, I've been beaten loads of times."

I was so happy that Harry finally up and left his Muggle relatives. They are such insufferable idiots. Really, the worst kind of people. Although, his running away from home reinforces the fact that our little wizards are growing up and coming into their own. Harry is gaining confidence in his powers, and learning about his parents. Hermione's intelligence and diligent studying is really bearing fruit. And Ron, well, Ron is kind of becoming less funny and more annoying.

I have to mention how cool that map of mischief is. Oh, the trouble I could get up to with that and a cloak of invisibility...

It's interesting that this is the first story where Voldemort doesn't show up in some form. The super evil escaped convict turns out to be a good guy. The bad guys are a werewolf who is only a threat when transformed, and actually a good guy in human form, and a shapeshifting creep who hardly poses much of a threat beyond being a shameless betrayer. And the creepiest monsters in the movie were the Dementors (wannabe Ringwraiths), who are supposed to be serving the good side. (Oh, and there's the Executioner, who looked really badass). So I guess there's less of a clear "good and evil" thing going on, and the focus is on the characters' choices and their performance, proving their skills.

I feel like Dumbledore so frequently gets into positions where he has to condone a wrongdoing - like the execution of the hippogriff - because his hands are tied by politics, and he's unable to prove what he knows is right in his heart. I can't imagine how he puts up with it. But he's got to consider himself really lucky that he has such talented students like Harry and friends that are noble and talented, and so easily willing to break the rules.

I wonder where the series is headed, because I keep expecting some heavy developments that carry beyond each story's self-contained plot. Like in the last movie when Hagrid was sent to Azkaban, I thought that might be the setup for the next story, "The Prisoner of Azkaban", except Hagrid was released by the end of the movie, and PoA went in a different direction, rather than detailing some kind of harrowing rescue attempt. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but I guess I'll soon find out. At any rate, Emma's presence is enough to keep me engrossed. Although I wish there was more demonstration of her character and personality outside of directly plot-related activities. I know, it's a theatrical movie, not a reality show, but I just really want badly to be friends with Hermione. I want to hang out with her. She's such a cool person.

Emma Rating: Simply Stunning


  1. I love the Emma ratings. That in itself is adorable.

    I find Ron quite annoying myself.

    If you wanna be friends with Hermione, you'll have to read the books. Hopefully visions of Emma can make the jump. The slice of life aspect to Harry Potter is, I think, one of the quintessential things that make it so good. And when I contemplate "hm, I want more, what other fantasy books could I read?" it's always the slice of life, school-age friendships aspect that seems missing from the cue. ('course perhaps fantasy isn't the genre I'm looking for...) There are few thins I enjoy more than submerging myself in the little world of these three friends and there acquaintances, and the books are exceedingly good at allowing this, iyam.

    Now I feel bad about putting on HP during dinner. I sort of felt like if you hadn't even glanced at it by then, you never would! Ha.

  2. No need to feel bad. I wasn't really paying attention anyway. But seeing Emma in those scenes confirmed my intention to sit down and watch the movies sooner or later.