BluRay/DVD Reviews

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

By • Jun 23rd, 2004 •

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I have never read a Harry Potter novel. I didn’t enjoy the first film because, impressive as its visuals were, it operated on a strictly juvenile level, I was let down plot wise by it’s obvious desperation to be as faithful to the novel as possible (and therefore please the already established fanbase) and I thought Williams’ music was far too extravagant for its subject (not to mention too loud, drowning out the dialogue in parts) with a flying broomstick version of polo (Quidditch?) being accompanied by an over-the-top, blaring, frenzied and inappropriate piece not unlike his pod-race sequence for PHANTOM MENACE. Because of this I didn’t bother watching the second in the series. The trailers for the third instalment however looked more interesting, so I thought ‘Why not?’, took a deep breath and gave it a try. And I have to say – it’s quite good.

I’m told by those that have read the novels that a few liberties have been taken with the plot of AZKABAN in its transition to the screen but I believe this is all for the good. They are after all different media and it was this devotion to the written word that dragged the first movie down. Here the pace is a lot tighter, also the theme of the film is darker dealing with revelations regarding the deaths of Harry’s parents and the escape from Azkaban prison of Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), whom Harry believes is responsible for their deaths. Now Black is after Harry. Revenge is in the air.

With some pleasing plot twists (which made me glad I’d not read the books), the dazzling special effects we’ve come to expect, especially the incarnation of the flying Hippogriff and some genuinely scary characters called ‘Dementors’ who suck the souls from their victims, some great performances, particularly from Oldman, Thewliss and Gambon (replacing the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore), this, like the Hogwarts pupils themselves, is a much more confident and grown up film. Williams’ music is also, I’m glad to say, a lot more subdued.

Great for the kids and this time more entertaining for the adults too. Watch out for a brief cameo from Julie (ZHIVAGO) Christie – I missed it first time round.


Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe Harry Potter
Rupert Grint Ron Weasley
Emma Watson Hermione Granger
Gary Oldman Sirius Black
David Thewlis Professor Lupin
Michael Gambon Albus Dumbledore
Alan Rickman Professor Severus Snape
Maggie Smith Professor Minerva McGonagall
Emma Thompson Professor Sybil Trelawney
Robbie Coltrane Rubeus Hagrid
Robert Hardy Cornelius Fudge
Mark Williams Mr. Arthur Weasley
Julie Walters Mrs. Molly Weasley
Julie Christie Madame Rosmerta
Richard Griffiths Uncle Vernon

Crew:
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Writing credits:
J.K. Rowling (novel)
Steven Kloves (screenplay)
Producers: Chris Columbus, David Heyman, Mark Radcliffe
Associate producers: Chris Carreras, Paula DuPré Pesman
Executive producers: Michael Barnathan, Callum McDougall, Tanya Seghatchian
Original Music by John Williams

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