June 11 - 17, 2004 • Vol. 24 - No. 24

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
—Too Bad Potter Failed to Deliver
the Third Time Around
by The Blonde and The Maven
Film Columnists

Once again, we find Harry Potter portrayed for the third time by Daniel Radcliffe, living with his cruel aunt and uncle, anxiously awaiting his return to the school of witchcraft. We haven’t visited with Harry since 2002. The biggest change was that director Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire and Home Alone) was replaced this time with the controversial Mexican director, Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tú Marma Tambien).

Harry and his friends Ron, portrayed by Rupert Grint, and Hermione, played by Emma Watson, return for their third year at Hogwarts, the infamous school of witchcraft and wizardry. The threesome, who have become teenagers, are now forced to face their most personal and darkest fears. If that’s not hard enough, they confront a dangerous escaped prisoner, Sirius Black, played by Gary Oldman (Dracula and The Professional). In addition, the story has the little wizards and witch facing the Dementors who are sent there to protect them. “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!”… You will get another chance as well, to revisit other beloved Harry Potter characters. For example, Maggie Smith (Tea with Mussolini), who portrays Professor McGonagall; Alan Rickman (Dogma) plays Professor Snape. Returning as well is Robbie Coltrane (From Hell) who plays Rubeus Hagrid the Giant. One character that you will definitely miss is the late Icon, Richard Harris who played the Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. The Headmaster is now played by Michael Gambon (Gosford Park and The Insider).
The Blonde: This movie was like Harry Potter one and two meets The Never Ending Story, The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings. I don’t want to, in any way, insult those other brilliant motion pictures as to compare it to the extremely weak Harry Potter film. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two Harry Potter movies and felt like I was suffering through this one. I was bored throughout the whole movie except for the first ten minutes. The beginning scene shows Harry cast a spell on the uncle’s sister (who was totally obnoxious), who swells up until she’s about to burst like a balloon, starts to fly, and then blows away into the atmosphere. I simply can’t tell you how many times I wanted to do the very same thing to any one of my mothers-in-law.

The Maven: The third installment of Harry Potter is not so candy-coated as the previous two. It’s more a coming of age story. Harry is not so goody-goody. He’s actually dealing with personal identity issues by means of typical teenage angst (as typical as a teenage wizard can be) by acting out. How many parents have dealt with that? Of course, when your adolescent acted out, he didn’t cause a relative to blow up and float away.

The Blonde: You have to admit, that kind of acting out would come in handy! I felt this movie was too dark for younger children to see. They might become scared and unable to enjoy this Potter film as they did the other two. In that case, though, it would be a lucky break for the parents to get to leave early. Yeah! I did, however, so enjoy the bird/horse (BuckBeat) character called Hypocrite. I thought he stole the whole movie. Not that that was any big deal. The only other nice thing I can say about Harry Potter is that if you find yourself having to go to the restroom during the movie, there are oh so many slow, boring scenes, you can leisurely take the opportunity to do just that. I am so glad I didn’t work out today, for that would have been two painful experiences to endure in one day…

The Maven: I agree with what you said about younger children. Almost everyone, it seemed, has dark secrets in this movie. Eventually there are so many twists and turns that it was difficult to decipher the good guys from bad guys.
The Blonde: No, it was me doing the twisting and turning from boredom. Sorry. Ga head.

The Maven: As in real life, shifting alliances blur the line of black and white.
The Blonde: So does Michael Jackson! BA-DUMP-BUMP!...

The Maven: Laugh out loud!! There were serious plot holes. Harry seems to be in more danger from the guards of Azkaban than the escaped prisoner. If you didn’t read the book, you won’t be able to answer these questions. Did Sirius Black kill dozens of people? Why did he seek Harry Potter? Why did Professor Lupin show up as a teacher of defense against the black arts when he did?
The Blonde: Who cares! The only question I have was why was the movie so bad that the only thing that kept me awake was sucking all the white dots off of my Snow Caps Candy?  The only answer I do have is the reason Chris Columbus chose not to direct this film was to save his career. Am I being too mean?

The Maven:  Then why did he choose to produce it instead?
The Blonde: So he can direct in the future. Producers are forgiven easier…
The Maven: One more complaint.
The Blonde: Oh please, please do!!!
The Maven: Gary Oldman is one of the finest actors of our time. When he is on screen, there is no one else to look at. So why was he given so little screen time?  I felt his talent and charisma were completely wasted.

The Blonde: Yadda, Yadda.  Why was the film they filmed this movie on completely wasted? That is a better question…

The Maven:  I didn’t mind the dark aspect to the film. It just made it a little different and unique than the others. Because the movie left me dangling with so many unanswered questions, I feel I have to rate it a C. It was just average at best. Because I was so frustrated, I ate an entire tub of popcorn and suggest that you do the same.

The Blonde: I seriously recommend that you save your hard earned money, stay home, order a pizza with extra cheese, and rent the previous two Harry Potter movies instead. I give Harry Potter Prisoner of Azkaban a disappointing D. It would have been a D-, but the music written by composer John Williams was great, as he always writes.

1. Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 
Photo by Murray Close

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