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Movie: Prisoners of Azkaban

posterOf the three Harry Potter films, this one has the worst character development and worst pacing. If you don't know who the characters in the film are, then the film isn't going to help you, and most of the staple characters (e.g. the teachers) have about as much screen time as the extras. As for pacing, the movie tries to create and maintain so many threads that by the time they all pull together, the bang they create is rather weak. The Sirius Black plot, in particular, feels frequently neglected, despite being the main thrust of the movie.

It feels contradictory to assert this, but despite having these two major flaws, this was by far the best of the Harry Potter films. The previous two Harry Potter films offered their biggest rewards in the way they visualized the "big things," from the sorting hat ceremony to the monsters to quidditch. The problem with this, I found, was that the trailers were about as rewarding as the watching the movie, and the first two movies placed a premium of special effects over story, which moved along in an excruciatingly undeviating manner.

Azkaban, on the other hand, was rewarding in its holistic visualization of Hogwarts, from the well-designed segues that firmly establish the Hogwarts scenary, to a humorous interludes and gag jokes, to the flattened/colorized photography that presents a slightly modified reality that befits the Potter universe. I was especially impressed by the amount of humor, setting, and story that could be gained from segues of the Whomping Willow.

If only the movie had about another 10-20 minutes, so that tension regarding Sirius Black could be maintained, and so that we could see how the characters have grown since the previous year, and so the Marauder's Map is given its due, but perhaps thats too much to ask with such a short gift of time. A large narrative debt has being created and passed onto the next movie, though, and I wonder whether its going to be delt with, or cast aside as an incentive to reread the books.

Comments (1)

I agree with everything you said. It is the best film but fails in characterization. Sirius seems like a sideplot even though his is the main storyline. They don't seem nearly afraid enough of him. But it's a great film.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on June 14, 2004 3:39 PM.

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