Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Ozone and Odeon Wands out! Harry is back, older, angrier and with better
special effects than ever before. The third film in the series,
The Prisoner of Azkaban, is a departure from the
‘kiddie’ films that came earlier in the series.
It’s probably unnecessary to rehash the familiar plot here,
but undoubtedly scary, often funny and always very, very magical,
Harry Potter is bound to be the hit of the summer. Purists might not appreciate the omission of various details
important to the book, particularly those regarding Harry’s
background. A large part of what made the books so special was
their richness of detail. Nevertheless, considering the
running-time of the film, an awful lot of important stuff has
stayed in. The Dementors are authentically chilling (and crusty),
and Buckbeak manages not to look like a dodgy animatronics
effect. On the whole, the special effects are just what is needed
to give the film its proper magical style. Thankfully, however, this film is not just about special
effects. There are plenty of real human emotion here: anger,
terror and love, all in two hours. The performances from the
adolescent actors are nothing short of excellent, even
threatening to upstage seasoned performers such as Maggie Smith
(Professor McGonagall) and Michael Gambon (Dumbledore). Daniel
Radcliffe, as Harry, manages to capture the juvenile confusion
juxtaposed with maturity that is so central to the Harry we are
familiar with from the books. Never lapsing into childish
petulance or cheesy ‘grown-up’ acting, Radcliffe is
Harry. Equally good performances come from Emma Watson (Hermione)
and Rupert Grint (Ron) as Harry’s loyal companions. Watson
and Grint have a palpable electricity between them which bodes
well for the later films. This film also sees the introduction of Harry’s
godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). There were rumours that
Oldman was a casting mistake for the role, however his talent
shines through as he embodies the dangerous yet affectionate
personality of Black very well. There are new characters too,
which creates an exciting medley of the familiar, for diehard
fans, and the new, for those who might not be au fait with the
books. New director Alfonso Cuaron has picked up where Chris Columbus
left off, and has twisted Columbus’ fairyland into something
much darker. There is still the abundance of magic and Quidditch,
but there is definitely a new sense of evil in this film. The
cast have responded well to this and the effects have managed to
convey a feeling of spine-chilling fear. Yet despite this, it
doesn’t prevent Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
from being a truly enjoyable film.ARCHIVE: 6th week TT 2004