Friday, July 16, 2004

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

At my wifey's request, I've decided to review this movie. I watch movies fairly often, but I don't spend as much money as you might think. I rarely go to the theater, but I do rent. Sometimes, I even check 'em out of the library (free). We took this one in at the local drive-in. It was a two-for-one deal (Spider-man 2 was the other flick), at $5 per person.
I've liked the Harry Potter series of films, since the beginning, but I've never read the books. So I can't comment on whether the movies are true to the novels.
Part three has all the earmarks of the first two: spellbinding special effects, mythical or magical creatures, and nonstop action. The audience experiences the killer tree from the earlier films, a werewolf, time travel, a hippogriff (a beast resembling the cross-breeding of an eagle and a horse), and creatures called dementors. These last look like the grim reaper, or maybe the black riders from Lord of the Rings.
The time travel sequence in particular engages the audience, being my favorite scene in the whole series, to date.
There are a few differences between this flick and its predecessors. It's a darker, more melancholic movie, for one. Also, the focus lies more on Harry and his closest friends, rather than secondary--but important--characters, such as Hagrid and Dumbledore.
For all its high points, the film does have flaws. In the beginning, Harry wreaks a cruel but well-earned vengeance on an evil relative, which has no resolution whatsoever. We never see what becomes of the object of his wrath. Rather, the film briskly moves along to the next act.
Additionally, this film leaves lots of loose ends and unanswered questions, making it obvious that a sequel waits in the wings. Whereas the first two installments come to conclusions of a sort, this one simply finds a place to stop, until the next time. Perhaps with all the zillions of dollars the franchise has raked in, the producers felt more comfortable leaving the end open.
All in all, an enjoyable visual feast, with an interesting story. None of these films reach the lofty heights of brilliant film-making that most of their fans proclaim (and I'm including film critics), but all are well worth the time, providing plenty of fun. In the TV trailer, one film critic gushed that this was the greatest fantasy film ever made. This statement is patent nonsense, as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Wizard of Oz, and a handful of others are superior. But you will have a good time going to see this one.

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