I suppose you could say that the replacement of the
previous Harry Potter movies’ director, Chris Columbus,
with the acclaimed Alfonso Cuarón, was a smart one. Cuarón has
a knack for the material; his work in The Prisoner of
Azkaban is lighter and more enriching than anything in the
first two films. However, with it, he has also destroyed
everything Columbus had worked for in them, straying from the
style that fans have come to love. This installment in the
series is the strongest one, but
does this really matter when it is so desperately out of
place? For starters, Hogwarts, as we know it, now seems like
an entirely different setting. Not to mention the characters’
personalities (Draco Malfoy’s in particular) have changed
quite a bit. I really liked Harry Potter and the Prisoner
of Azkaban but I just couldn’t become accustomed to this
change. Yes, maybe I would be calling this a masterful picture
if Cuarón had directed the first two, and his techniques
seemed usual. But I just can’t bear to see Harry’s embodiment
morphing. I just can’t.
This time around, Harry (Daniel
Radcliffe, who is now quite a fine actor) is supposedly being
chased by Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), the only Azkaban-prison
escapee ever. Black was responsible for telling Voldemort
where Harry’s parents were before he killed them, according to
the magical realm’s experts. With his escape from Azkaban, it
is feared that he has come to finish the Potters off, once and for
all, by taking down the sole survivor of Voldemort’s attack.
Surprises are certainly in store for those who have not read
the book come the film’s end; I became increasingly
entertained as it rolled on. Perhaps this is simply because I
was more adjusted to Cuarón’s style, rather than an
explanation for an
ascent in quality on the part of the movie. Seeing Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a second time will
further prove its worthiness. I will be able to instantly know
what to expect on the part of the director, allowing me to
focus more on the story and the evolution of the characters.
Doing such could almost be taken as a sort of test or
experiment of my willingness to adapt to new material.
There are presumable advances in
this outing, despite its setbacks. Most of these involve the
special effects, which are astounding in every sense. There is
pure visual wonder here, albeit more artificial than that of
its predecessors. The best computed-creation is the Hypogriff,
a creature Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), now a professor at
Hogwarts, has a bit of a disastrous hands-on experience
teaching his class about. The Hypogriff is, simply put, a
half-bird, half-horse. However, the only way one can really
understand its look is to see it. The images in Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are that unwordly.
The werewolves in the movie
were surely assembled terrifically, as well.
Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), who
took a back seat to Harry and Ron (Rupert Grint) in the first
two flicks, steals the show in The Prisoner of Azkaban.
She’s a very funny, bubbly, and adventurous character,
introducing an interesting plot-twist of sorts near the end of
the movie. Watson has proved herself to be an extremely gifted
actress, and probably the best of the group of three friends.
Her work here is best described as ferocious, usually bringing
either comedic relief or some sort of silly profoundness to
each scene that she’s in.
It is kind of ironic that J.K.
Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, was very
hesitant about allowing her work to be adapted into movies.
The theory behind this was that children should imagine the
look and feel of each character, rather than having these
force-fed to them on a multiplex screen. This is also why
there are no pictures in any of the series’ novels. Her
worries have most definitely been falsified, despite the fact
that every character does look and act a certain way. But the
sheer imagination that these movies possess is extraordinary;
it would be impossible to call them clear-cut, as Rowling
feared they would be. Cuarón makes things even more
outlandish in The Prisoner of Azkaban, which I assume
will please the writer of his source material, even though I’m
still quite iffy about the method, myself. There is no doubt
that this film is extremely deserving, and well worth your
hard-earned buck, though. Watching it is like being
transported into a world of joyful sensation for two and a
half hours, and there is truly nothing better than partaking
in an experience of such a sort. This is a pure motion
picture, fully absorbing in every way possible.
-Danny, Bucket Reviews