me and magic

* avatar drawn by alcyone

potter fan since: 1999
favorite character: ron
house: gryffindor
wand: holly, phoenix feather, 8 3/4 inches
favorite magical creature: phoenix
favorite weasley: bill and ginny
favorite wizard food: chocolate frogs, butterbeer
i most identify with: ginny weasley
favorite HP book: harry potter and the order of the phoenix
my portkeys:
>> the leaky cauldron
>> the HP lexicon
>> harry potter filks
>> pinoy harry potter
>> the shrieking shack

i solemnly swear that it was a damn wicked movie.
i loved "harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban"... and here's why.

WARNING: Massive spoilers this way comes.

I solemnly swear that in my humble personal opinion, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" should rate 4.6 Giant Pumpkins on a scale of 1 to 5 Giant Pumpkins.

Story and Plot Development: 3.75 Giant Pumpkins

This remains to be the aspect of the film that I have a major beef with. Steve Kloves did a good job in managing to simplify the plot enough for filming. The changes he made, which seem to enrage some purists, actually help move the story along, and helped the non-readers relate to the plot better.

However, there are 2 aspects of the adapted story that I wish could have been executed better. The first is regarding the Marauders. Although it's short work for the adults to piece together a lot of the details regarding Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, younger people, especially non-readers, would have a more difficult time understanding that crucial part of the story. I'm not asking much in terms of exposition here. It would have been enough just to connect the Marauders' Map and their creators clearly to Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, and James Potter, and to reconcile that with all the plot threads that unraveled during the Shrieking Shack sequence. As a fan of the books, the exposition in the movie was enough for me. But more could have been done to make that aspect more coherent for others.

The second aspect of the plot I thought should have been explained better was Hermione's time-turning. Not the latter part of the story. Just the parts were she suddenly showed up in class or turned up beside Harry and Ron. Yes, it did happen that way, but in the movie, not much emphasis or attention was given to those scenes, that they didn't even make an impact on the audience when they found out about the time-turning in the latter part of the story. No "oh, so that's why she's been turning up weird that way". Those parts were sort of hurried, and normally, there was just one line uttered by one character to call attention to it, that the usual reaction to those scenes was "huh?". To their credit though, Kloves and Alfonso Cuaron handled the time-turning sequences in the last part of the movie very well. Even the colorful, non-Hogwarts wardrobes the characters wore contributed to help the audience realize, in a visual manner, just how the time-turning worked. I think that should let all the comments about Hermione's "rainbow belt" to rest. ;)

Aside from these 2 complaints, I thought Kloves and Cuaron came up with a pretty good adaptation. The transitions between scenes were done artistically, and not so choppy as some parts of the 1st and 2nd HP movies. :)

[Side comment: I thought they adapted this one better than the writers of "The Two Towers" did. At least no character was revised like Faramir was that he almost became an antagonist, when he really wasn't. *shrug* ]

Acting: 4.3 Giant Pumpkins

Again, much credit should be given to Alfonso Cuaron for the marked improvement in the Trio's acting. Though Rupert Grint was his usual charming self (his timing and facial expressions are impeccable), Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe did much much better here, too. I can't quite pinpoint if it's really because of Cuaron's directing, or if the new approach to the story managed to give the characters more life. But the improvement was there.

I would like to especially mention Michael Gambon's Albus Dumbledore. Richard Harris did a great job in the first two films, but he wasn't really quite the Dumbledore I knew in the books. Michael Gambon was. He was less distant, more the Dumbledore you can always depend on, the cooky and witty and all-knowing Headmaster.

Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney was uncannily spot-on, at least to me. She was eccentric, and those weird glasses really did the trick. You will notice the students actually reacting promptly to her.

Gary Oldman as Sirius Black was effective enough, though David Thewlis was not quite how I envisioned Remus Lupin.

I wish they showed more of Aunt Marge so we could fully appreciate Pam Ferris in the role. She was so effective as Ms. Trunchbull in "Matilda", and I would have loved to see more of that from her for this role.

The other returning actors did excellent jobs too. Kudos to Alan Rickman and the Phelps twins. :)

Musical Score: 5 Giant Pumpkins

I am admittedly a fan of the great John Williams, and I must say, his work here is one of those I really enjoyed the most. The music fit in really well with what you see on screen, and really contributes a lot to the whole atmosphere of the film. Although I still don't see the rationale behind the toad-totting choir singing "Something Wicked This Way Comes", the melody of that song recurs throughout the movie, and I have to admit that it sound great. :)

Costume Design: 5 Giant Pumpkins

I like the look of the new students' uniforms a lot. It makes it easier for the audience to immediately classify students into Houses based on the colors of the uniforms. The new Quidditch uniforms also look cool, they are now more sports-like, with names and jersey numbers. Although it was never specified in the books, it seems logical for the players to sport numbers. Makes it easier for the referees to track them on the field, right? :) The professors' robes were excellent... except for Lupin's. The way I understood it, his clothes were supposed to be quite shabby, only in the movie, it wasn't. Or maybe that's just me. :D

CG/Special Effects/Creature Designs: 4.8 Giant Pumpkins

ILM again pulls out all the stops for this movie. I found very little to criticize in the special effects. Of course, no movie ever has perfect effects, but this one does really really well. I especially loved how the hippogriffs were portrayed, as well as the design for the Marauder's Map. I still have a problem with a quite hairless werewolf, but at least it moved the way I envisioned a werewolf would. I also loved how they conceptualized the Knight Bus and how it weaved and swiveled its way between the Muggle and wizarding worlds. The Jamaican Shrunken Head was a funny addition. :p

Cinematography: 4.9 Giant Pumpkins

No specific comments here.

Other Comments:

- Although we've been through 3 Harry Potter movies now, I still can't figure out why people are still outraged over the omission of tiny little details that wouldn't move the film's plot towards its conclusion. This is an ADAPTATION. It is impossible to not deviate from the book.

- I really can't pinpoint why I like Alfonso Cuaron's approach better than Chris Columbus', but I think part of it actually has to do with, believe it or not, Cuaron's and Steve Kloves' courage to deviate from the book this time around. I felt that somehow, Columbus' stubborn will to be faithful to the book limits what he can do with the film. Yes, in his world I felt that I was actually in Hogwarts, walking around with the students, studying magic. But in the third movie, I felt that I was in the wizarding world. A magical world. And there is a difference. And I think that's how it should be, because most of Book 3 was not based inside Hogwarts Castle itself, really. There were other places, and the movie had to portray this well enough. The scenic outdoor views Cuaron showed us, in retrospect, actually helped the audience understand the time-turning sequences in a visual manner. They were unforgettable, and when they had to time-turn and go back, it was easy to reconcile that the characters, indeed, were retracing their steps.

Funny. At this point, I ask myself why there was a need for me to write a long review. I guess it comes from reading too many other reviews and not being able to resist the urge to comment on them.

For me, what it all really comes down to is that I went there to watch and enjoy the film and be entertained. And I was. And the film met my expectations. And exceeded those expectations in certain aspects. It fell short in some, but didn't diminish the overall experience for me. And that's the end of it.

Review managed.

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part7 *** 06.09.2004
*** ginnyskywalker *** 03.30.2003