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Review

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN review

Past couple of weeks of film going have been fairly lackluster. I liked TROY – but didn’t love it. Felt the changes regarding who lived and died, the fate of Paris and Helen and a score that kinda just left me a tad annoyed, took the joy out of seeing an epic film done on a grand scale… I missed the Gods, I missed the mythology of it. Having cynical characters using the myths of Gods and “signs” to motivate others may be what we think of these ideas today, but for me… when I read the classics – the Gods were alive and real. Also… there’s just something about changing multi-millennia-aged stories for Hollywood Happy Endings that just kinda pisses me off.

Then earlier this week I saw SHREK 2, which I thought was fun, but ultimately unsatisfying. Puss and the Gingerbread Man rule the earth… but Shrek and Donkey and Fiona… Well, they annoyed the hell out of me. I didn’t really care for them, and could feel myself brighten everytime Antonio’s Pussy purred a line, or feigned innocence over a …. Well you know. However, most of the film felt like a series of loosely connected skits without a story that I cared about. Maybe, it’s that instead of having Shrek and Fiona ever have a scene of them in love, sharing dreams and thoughts… and the wispy notions of love for one another… they always defuse any and all scenes with the cheap and tawdry easy joke, as a result… I never care about the greater story. It’s enjoyable. I liked the movie, but it isn’t the whole ball of wax.

Like VAN HELSING – I had a blast with the 9 year old monster wet dream of Stephen Sommers, but fully acknowledge that I wish to god he knew how to slow down, and let a scene just play. Stop playing a million things going on at once and simplify the action. Just because the Computer can make more independent elements moving in a scene… doesn’t mean you move them. Sometimes, simplicity is the most beautiful thing of all… Magic can be unleashed with the slightest little effort of the upturned palm… ahem Mr Elfman, pardon me.

That’s my way of leading into the first genuinely great Summer 2004 film.

Alfonso Cuaron’s HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN.

In a magic world of real magic, it’s the little things that could be done that terrify, dazzle and enchant. Combining the magic of the really real, the nearly real and power of pixels, Cuaron brings to life J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter in a way we have yet to see fully before.

I’ve liked the Columbus “Potter” flicks, but that muggle family that Harry lives with at the beginning in his films were always overbearing to the level of cartoonish. In Cuaron’s film, it’s the same actors… playing a scene that seems very much like the scenes we’d seen in the previous two Potter pics, but there’s something else here. There is fear. This muggle family, they’re not mean for mean’s sake, they’re terrified of Harry. He’s something they don’t understand, he can ruin their lives with a scowl, they reason that they must treat him as beneath them, because… if they dare let on with their fear… He would lord over them, rule them… it’s the fear of absolute power. And at the beginning of this film, you see that abuse of power come in play. In a way, it reminded me of that Twilight Zone episode, that Dante did for the film… the one where the boy could do whatever he imagined, and the family that he was forcing to care for him. Harry Potter isn’t a safe kid to be around, he has too much going on inside him, an awful lot of pain and he can explode… anyone he wants.

This opening creates a genuine tone shift from the absurd, to the oh so real. This is an element that is continued with regular clothing and more honest emotional moments. There’s a scene between David Thewlis’ Professor Lupin and Harry on this gabled bridge at Hogwart’s, that really touched me. It wasn’t played broadly, but sweetly. In Thewlis’ face you saw such affection for Harry’s parents, while Potter had his back to Lupin, we could see the sadness upon his… Hearing about his parents, hearing how loved they were is so wonderful, yet painful at the same time. He can only know them through the words of others… cryptic descriptions about eyes and faces… of natures and laughs. He’s truly an orphan in this world where everyone knows his story, but him. There’s such a haunt about Harry… I love it. Daniel Radcliffe is fantastic in this edition!

Then there’s Weasley and Hermione. Rupert Grint’s comic-timing and face reminds me in an odd way of a young “DEAD END” Huntz Hall… a pug-ish Skid row kid that’s always the butt of the jokes… be they by others or simply the joke of existence itself. He’s a warm heart, a great friend and he is the perfect release valve for the frightening. He defuses a scene effortlessly and that is true magic. Then there’s young Emma Watson. Every now and again you see an actress so young and gifted that she makes one take pause. As she continues to mature in this series, I think there will be not a single boy or adult male that doesn’t have a schoolboy crush on her. She’ll punch a prick in the prow, she’ll turn back the ages and work wonders for the sake of her friends. She’s thankless and gifted. She’s a miniature adolescent Grace Kelly on a series of REAR WINDOW adventures and one can’t help but envy the boy with the cast on his leg exasperated by her every entrance, statement and movement. She is a lady of the highest order. And the scene between Emma Thompson’s aloof Professor Trelawney and herself – is such a cold bitch of a scene. I feel like we missed a moment after that. I’m not sure what, but having not read the book, I just sense there was a moment between Ron and her after that scene that explains their outing together alone at the Shrieking Shack.

Next – let’s talk about magic. I love the universe of this series, and know that the glorious day that I finally crack open these tomes and discover the nuanced telling of the tale by type, that I’m in for a very wonderful treat indeed. When Harry first arrives at the Leaky Cauldron… watch the busboy cleaning a table, that’s magic, it’s the effortless style with which magic is unleashed here… a flourish of a rag, the twist of a wrist… As Lugosi might’ve said, “You must be Hungarian,” indeed. Then there’s the creeps that crawl in on Harry… the fear of Sirius Black… just a constant reinforcement of his treachery, his powers and his intent. The concern from all involved, the way he seems to just come and go… at will and unseen. Waiting for the moment to strike. When you see all the magical safeguards… the Dementors and their whole wispy willies sensation they give as the air chills and the dew cracks as new borne ice. The cold portent of something foreboding coming. It’s priceless. Really great magic. Then there’s that Hippogriff, possibly my favorite critter, oddly it isn't ILM, but rather the brilliant work of Framestore CFC. The combination of the animatronic and the pixels… it soars and glides and feels real. It has moments of stillness, of calm… it isn’t constantly hopped up on speckled eggs and doing the standard erratic C.G. freak out, look at me deal. The Hippogriff is calm and cool and everyone would want one, truly a magical creature.

Then there’s what Cuaron has done with John Williams… it seems that he’s pushed Johnny Williams into more experimental and antiquated instrumentations… It feels less LONDON PHILHARMONIC, and more chamber-music-ish, in fact much of the music feels like the light sounds creaking from the corner speakers whilst reading a volume of forgotten lore… this is of course the music to hear in a magic castle with ghosts wandering the halls in plain sight, with black hell hounds on the prowl and werewolves howling in the distance. This is the source inspiration for some great Williams’ phrasings and my favorite score of his since CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.

The work by Gary Oldman is superb, but I'll leave that for you to discover, same with that of Michael Gambon, who plays Dumbledore as less of a wiley old fool, and more of a mysterious and curious force in Harry's life, someone very sure of what is going on. His little speech about letting the children dream was priceless.

Lastly, we have Alfonso Cuaron. Throughout the film, he startled me with cinematic devices, emotional directions and stylistic flourishes. Perhaps my favorite is his CG Werewolf… the limbs elongated like some hauntingly beautiful lupine Lynne Ward-like creature had he ever carved one. It’s unlike any creature I’ve seen – yet there’s something in its eyes that I believe. It may not be particularly real, but then… it isn’t real, right?

Cuaron really has such a light touch to this story, in the end it all feels so easy, so elegant and so effortless that I was left with a goofy smile and a dream as I heard the final incantation before the light last left the projector and I was returned to my theater. He understands magic more purely than anyone I’m watching make films today. The misdirection, the naughty nature of it and finally the pure joy of magic… it’s all here, thanks to the greatest wizard to help Harry along his quest for whatever it may eventually be.

Readers Talkback
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  • May 23, 2004, 9:25 p.m. CST

    First

    by IncredibleYoda

    beeatches

  • May 23, 2004, 9:26 p.m. CST

    Sounds groovy.

    by Uncle_Les

    Peace Out.

  • May 23, 2004, 9:27 p.m. CST

    This film

    by BirdMnJr

    will be, by far, the best out of the Harry Potter series. This was the second best book(CoS was best), and Cuaron will best Newell, Columbus, and whoever else they get. If Warner Brothers executives put together have one brain cell, they will bring Cuaron back for 5,6,7.

  • May 23, 2004, 9:27 p.m. CST

    Can't Wait

    by Thom_Kallor

    At least this one won't be delayed 6 months (for Aussie audiences) like Hellboy was...

  • May 23, 2004, 9:28 p.m. CST

    Can't wait...

    by PiratedTV

    First film of the summer that I REALLY want to see...

  • May 23, 2004, 9:29 p.m. CST

    I'll give it a try

    by Lazarus Long

    I was thoroughly unimpresed with Columbus first HP film, thought it lacked any kind of artistic merit or soul. The second was slightly less boring, but still didn't have very much to it. I'm hoping that Cuaron proves to be less of a slave to Rowling's source (regardless of the script), and shows us what we know he's capable of. That being said, it amuses me that people give these shallow films a pass while harping on Lucas for making family films with much more behind them...

  • May 23, 2004, 9:54 p.m. CST

    GEORGE W BUSH IS A COCKSUCKER

    by Darth Philbin

    ...and if you support him with your vote you probably like the taste of penis too!!!

  • May 23, 2004, 10:02 p.m. CST

    Saw it today, too.

    by erik_a

    I'd have to agree with most of what was said by Harry. Saw it at the preview, too today. Overall, I loved it, but at times, I felt many of the scenes were a bit rushed, and the adult actors were underused. I also disliked that they changed the locations of Hogwarts, Hagrid's hut, and the Womping Willow a bit from what they were in the last films. But, that's just being nitpicky. I felt that this time around it was much more artistic, more beautiful to look at, the CGI was there, but not overused, like in most movies nowadays. The performances by the kids were much better than before. I am not too sure I liked Gambon as Dumbledore though. He's just someone to get used to, but it just seemed he didn't quite 'get it' but then I felt that Richard Harris really was perfect for that role, anyway.

  • May 23, 2004, 10:17 p.m. CST

    Glad Harry liked it. Dude, you're gonna love #4.

    by Tall_Boy

    Just trust me on this one. Regardless of the director, its the best book and I can't wait for it. To me, this is just gonna be an apetizer for Goblet. (then we all gotta slag through ORDER OF THE PHENOIX. Ugh.)

  • May 23, 2004, 10:26 p.m. CST

    by Sharpel007

    Q: Mike Newell is directing the fourth installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Weren

  • May 23, 2004, 10:41 p.m. CST

    Hey, Harry flipped on a movie. How shocking.

    by I Dunno

    So Van Helsing wasn't the greatest movie of all time? Glad I consider the source before seeing a flick.

  • May 23, 2004, 10:44 p.m. CST

    The 9 year old theory.

    by proper

    Kids have the highest B.S.filter. It's in or out as far as they are concerned.That's how it was for us as kids in identifying what we thought was good or bad.Van Helsing for example will not be seen as a classic in years to come(no disrespect intended)though people enjoy it now,nor will Shrek(who cares)So to use that as an excuse to watch things you are embarrased or self conscious by now doesn't run.Harry Potter films are alright but I can wait for them to come on TV.It's good that the fans aren't getting cheated with unnessecery changes.I hope all the future books and films give them entertainment that will grow with them(the books get more adult as the characters do don't they?)and that they are worthy of the time and money they have put in the series.........

  • May 23, 2004, 10:47 p.m. CST

    "My favorite John Williams score since Catch Me If You Can"

    by Osmosis Jones

    It's also his ONLY score since Catch Me If You Can, but I digress... Harry, READ. THE. BOOKS. You are NOT spoiling future movies by reading the books that inspired them. It's every bit as inane as not reading X-Men comics because you don't want to spoil the third X-Men movie. Books is books and movies is movies. Oh, and POA looks like the best Potter flick yet.

  • May 23, 2004, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Hey Harry, what happened to all the old guard?

    by Stormin

    Robogeek, Tom Joad, Hallenbeck, Johnny Wad, Sir Etch-A-Sketch, Copernicus, and John Robie were all pillars of our community, and now they are nowhere to be found. I just can't deal with sudden disappearances like that Harry, its like the inexplicable dropping of supporting characters in movie series, comic books, and television shows. Its jarring and you wanna know what happened to these fellas. Where are they now???

  • Go to a polical board.

  • May 23, 2004, 11:22 p.m. CST

    I dunno

    by Darth Philbin

    learn to spell, dicklicker

  • May 23, 2004, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Harry Potter vs. Darth Philbin

    by zacdilone

    Who's more mature?

  • May 24, 2004, 12:35 a.m. CST

    unngh, that's sick! isn't emma watson like 13?

    by microwavable?

    somebody had to say it. at least wait until she's 16 to compare her to grace kelly.

  • May 24, 2004, 12:53 a.m. CST

    umm....

    by ReDWasK

    did harry just say "Antonio's Pussy"? :\

  • May 24, 2004, 1:37 a.m. CST

    Love

    by KneelBeforeZod

    May I just say that I love Talkbacks? I love AICN. I love the fact that these message boards are not monitored and no one complains about being emotionally abused or threatens to leave. So fuck everyone here, you're all a bunch of fucktards, and have a shitty day.

  • May 24, 2004, 1:43 a.m. CST

    Tall Boy is right about the books

    by FelatioHornblowr

    If you liked the Harry Potter movies up until now, Goblet of Fire should blow you away. It is by far the best book of the series. But it's so long I'm worried they might have to cut out stuff, and this is one book where you really don't want to cut anything out. I'd pay twice if they split it into two volumes ala Kill Bill. Since Bill and LOTR were so successful it's just a matter of time before other movies follow suit. And, yes, Order of the Phoenix is the worst book of the series although it's not completely terrible. But I do wonder whether success has negatively affected Rowling's writing. I hope she can regain the magic with final two installments.

  • May 24, 2004, 1:48 a.m. CST

    Can't wait for the flick...

    by Snow Is Fun

    Anyway, I know a lot of people rip on Harry for writing his reviews like a seven-year-old hopped up on sugar with a few bits thrown in just to make him sound intelligent, and for the most part I don't really care what Harry writes as long as it makes sense, but "much of the music feels like the light sounds creaking from the corner speakers whilst reading a volume of forgotten lore" simply turned my friggin' stomach. Good God, man. Give the phony genius thing a rest if that's the kind of nonsense you're gonna be spouting.

  • There we go. Actually, the change of location is an unsettling one. All told, I'll take the better movie, but I'd have appreciated it if Cuaron left continuity in its place. I think it makes the story feel less authentic when people toy with things like that. Sometimes it's necessary, but in the case of changing the location of the Whomping Willow and updating the uniforms, not so much. Eh well. That's just my opinion. Glad to see this is getting glowing reviews. I love this core of young kids; Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have been improving exponentially since the first one, and Rupert Grint's perfect comic timing is something that a casting director oughta be thanking Serendipity for. I too, am a huge fan of the 4th book. (***MILD SPOILERS THIS WAY COME***)It's my favorite installment in the series thus far, and I hope that it translates well to the screen. Newell seems like a good man for the job, but to fit it into one movie (and not even a long one at that) they're going to have to pare down a lot of material, which worries me. The more time spent getting to know the new characters before the climax of the story is crucial. Hopefully Williams will not revert completely back to the bombast of old; I'm kind of feeling the chamber music meself. Can't wait to see this onscreen.

  • May 24, 2004, 2:18 a.m. CST

    Goblet of Fire Cuts

    by JackBristow

    I have heard that the Dursleys won't be in GoF. The movie will probably start with the scene at the Riddle House, then go directly to Harry at the Burrow.

  • May 24, 2004, 2:24 a.m. CST

    This new guy as Dumbledore...

    by kobain

    how good is he? I loved Richard Harris... and yet... having read the book (each of them over three times) I must admit that there was always something that he didn;t get quite right about dumbledore... and it struck me a few days ago... I started reading the first book again (I hadn't read it since I saw the first movie) and there was a particula fragment that finally gave me the clue on what was missing in Mr. Harris' interpretation of Dumbledore. In the movies he was this very old, very wise and (probably) very powerful wizard, the most powerful and wisest in hundreds of years... but there was something missing... and I found the answer in the first book... a conversation between Ron and Harry during the welcome feast Ron says something like "he's very wise, he's very powerful... and yes, he's a little bit mad too" That's exactly what was missing in Mr. Harris' role... a little bit of madness in dumbledore. :)

  • May 24, 2004, 2:25 a.m. CST

    Order of the Phoenix

    by JackBristow

    I don't think this was a bad book, as someone seemed to be alluding to earlier. It's just not a very happy book, very depressing. It's got a very angst-ridden Harry from start to finish. It proceeds to beat up Harry constantly. It takes away all his support systems and sees how he reacts. And it takes his heroism and reckless, which are two of his greatest strengths in the first four books, and turns them against him. There's no Harry saves the day in this one. The first three books were like that. The fourth kind of was and kind of wasn't, but the real effects of the wasn't aren't really seen until OotP. However, I think the fifth book has got a kick ass climax. Basically it takes something that has been building in anticipation since the first book and finally delivers.

  • May 24, 2004, 3:11 a.m. CST

    twenty eighth

    by cornstalkwalker

    i have enjoyed all the other Harry Potter films so im sure i like this one. i suppose i need to read the books sometime down the road.

  • May 24, 2004, 3:20 a.m. CST

    Jack Bristow (MORE SPOILERS)

    by Ribbons

    They're thinking about starting the 4th movie at the Weasleys' house? That's a little curious. I remember Newell saying in interviews that he was determined to make this movie into something of a mystery thriller where the hero finally realizes he's been two steps behind at the end of the film and has to deal with it. It seems like a perfect way to kickstart that dynamic of being just on the outskirts of what's going on would be to have Harry awake from a vaguely-remembered nightmare directly after the Riddle House sequence (which should be awesome, by the way), which in fact was actually his seeing what was going on at the time. Then again, I suppose that they could just transplant that scene into the setting of the Burrow. ************ As for OotP, I dug it too. It introduced my favorite character in the series (Luna Lovegood), and its angst was a natural progression from the tone of the one that preceded it. However, Goblet of Fire is my favorite just because it sort of bridges the gap between two eras at Hogwarts for Harry and does it so well. The way the fallout of Harry's confrontation with Voldemort is handled at the end of the novel is probably why I think so highly of it. I guess it seems atmospheric to me, I don't know. But it's all a matter of preference. And I have to learn to stop writing talkback posts like a stuffy old professor. Night folks.

  • May 24, 2004, 3:43 a.m. CST

    Is anyone hoping that they won't split GOF?

    by magusreno

    Columbus' greatest weakness as a director of the series was his inability to make the painful cuts to the script and make the best parts flow naturally together at the same time. Splitting GOF up would justify cutting nothing and lead to a more aimless Columbus-like movie. Even worse, unlike most Potter books where the emotional highs are spread more evenly throughout the book, this one builds steadily to a shocking climax. Separating it from the rest of the movie would have the same effect as cutting off a snake's head. Kill Bill's more like an earthworm.

  • May 24, 2004, 3:56 a.m. CST

    PUT THE HARRY POTTER FILMS BACK AT XMAS!

    by AtomicHyperbole

    For crynig out loud, the BEST times a the cinema I've had over the past year was going and seeing some kickass Christmassy feeling films like LOTR and the first two HP's. They made it feel like a holiday. Peter Pan was pretty good, but it wasn't as epic, and I ended up watching Reolutions to cheer me up, only making me suicidal and pyschotic over the rest of the season... GODDAMN IT! The blood of thirty innocents is on the studio's hands now... bring me Christmas goodies, and the slaughter shall stop! And thus, I have spoken! Except I aint George the Chicken dude!

  • May 24, 2004, 4:28 a.m. CST

    Why Harry really liked the movie

    by ProfessorChaos

    Werewolf. Yup. But no dead raped deer?

  • May 24, 2004, 4:35 a.m. CST

    Order of the Pheonix slag

    by Tall_Boy

    that's kinda what I meant by saying "slag" - its a long uneven haul. I think the book goes all over the place, good and bad. I mean, there's some really good stuff in there *Watch out! Spoilers for a book that's been out for almost a year! Look away!* like when Ron's brother's book it out of Hogwarts, Harry's crazy new DODA teacher, the badassedness of the Dumbledoore / Voldemort throwdown, the flashback to Harry's dad as a student. The "Harry Potter: Rescue Mission" pin. (best throwaway gag in all 5 books!) But there's some bad flat out dragggggging it out stuff. ie. The "prophesy" of Harry which was just pretty much something that we could have guessed. Black's "death" which was one of the worst deaths since "Remember" from Star Trek II. And lots and lots of piddling stuff that really went nowhere. If any book needs some trimming, GLADLY do it to Order. That's why I stand by Goblet - mainly for its opening and its climax where it turns into a flat-out horror movie practically. Awesome stuff.

  • May 24, 2004, 4:58 a.m. CST

    A bit of madness in Dumbledore = Sir Micheal Gambon

    by Gabba-UK

    The man is barking!!! He was on Have I Got News For You! last week and as funny as hell!. HIGNFY is a satirical news quiz show which would never be shown or done on US television as American TV execs are a spineless breed of human, too concerned with getting sued for libel than allowing a show of satirists break down the news and showing what a bunch of pricks we all tend to somehow put in power. Sound familiar? But I digress. Gambon admits to collecting lathe's as a hobby! Nuts. And as much as I loved the Harris I always felt that his Dumbledore would blow away in a stiff breeze!

  • May 24, 2004, 5:21 a.m. CST

    Elfman reference

    by talbuckin

    Harry is "quoting" a bit of a song from Nightmare Before Xmas, "Jack

  • May 24, 2004, 6:56 a.m. CST

    What in God's name was that?

    by DannyOcean01

    It'd be nice if there was a little less florid and a little more coherency when it comes to reviews.

  • I hated the 2nd Harry Potter. I felt it was all over the place..with terrible pacing. This one seems to have a great director so I hope its as good as the first one.

  • May 24, 2004, 7:09 a.m. CST

    Marvellous

    by logansden

    Harry potter will save us from a year of shit. Starsky and hutch, Troy, to name but 2 steaming piles of unwatchable crap. Oh and Gabba uk is right HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU brilliant. for those who havent seen it imagine whose line is it anyway meets monty python (its the only show to have had a tub of cooking lard as half of a team. brilliant)

  • May 24, 2004, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to this...

    by nottoo

    no need to say more.

  • May 24, 2004, 12:08 p.m. CST

    I can't trust these reviews anymore....

    by bobby_horsepower

    I can't trust Harry's reviews anymore. He's just ultimately just too madly off in all directions and these days he loves every movie that comes out. And if he doesn't like it at first, he'll then FIND reasons to like it and write a positive review. That being said, I am looking forward to this movie and despite reading another "glowing" review which may or may not be true, I'm going in with an open mind.

  • May 24, 2004, 4:38 p.m. CST

    Movies better than the books? Don't think so.

    by minderbinder

    And good like finding anyone who agrees with you. Sure, the writing isn't spectacular, but the details and subplots are what makes it so interesting, and in the first two, most of them are gone.

  • May 24, 2004, 10:59 p.m. CST

    What kind of PoA review doesn't mention Snape, anyway?

    by hedgie_yozh

    A wankery one, that's what.

  • May 25, 2004, 12:41 a.m. CST

    Oh god.....

    by one9deuce

    I get nervous when Harry likes a movie. He likes so many movies that I hate. I love the Potter book series, but have been underwhelmed by the two films so far. Chris Columbus is a capable director, but these stories needed a visionary director, and that is just what Prisoner Of Azkaban got in Alfonso Cuaron. Too bad Steven Spielberg didn't direct Sorcerer's Stone like originally planned. I would have like to seen what he would have done with it.

  • May 25, 2004, 2:19 a.m. CST

    I'm not listening, I'm not listening

    by fokke

    Hey Harry, I just read the headline. You think HP3 is a good film? I didn't read the rest of it because I'm going to watch it next week on Tuesday. A day before its release at Warner Brothers in Amsterdam. I write rewiews for a Dutch filmsite (filmfocus.com). It's in Dutch, so most of you can't read it. I love the books and sort of like the films (not a big Columbusfan). Now a change has come in the shape of Alfonso Cuar

  • May 25, 2004, 2:31 a.m. CST

    hermoine's lohan juggz

    by DaShiz

    first??? all we wanna know is has she sprouted the juggz yet? you know, like that parody that lindsey lohan and the cast did on snl recently? if not well woah those lohan juggz were something! yeah juggz.

  • May 25, 2004, 4:15 a.m. CST

    AtomicHyperbole...

    by James_O'Nasty

    Thank you very much. You are the first person to elucidate what I have felt and said for a year and a half. It feels out of place seeing it in the beginning of summer, but what the hell...it will be cold in the cinema!!! Christmas will still be lacking for a Potter film, but hopefully they will bust their asses on getting the DVD out soon enough for the marketing holidays! People, J.K. needs the money bad!!!!

  • May 25, 2004, 4:33 a.m. CST

    Sounds great and everything, really looking forward to this, but

    by drakeavenue

    I don't think you should begin a review with reviews of other movies. I know you were setting up its goodness with those other summer movies, but still.

  • May 25, 2004, 4:52 a.m. CST

    The Potter "books" give illiterate halfwits a chance to say "I r

    by SalvatoreGravano

    Try reading a *real* book for once. I'm not speaking of Bulhakov or Joyce, because the Pottheads wouldn't even know where to look - but try even Dickens, for any deity's sake.

  • May 25, 2004, 5:13 a.m. CST

    I have read Joyce, asshole.

    by Rain_Dog

    But I've also read Harry Potter, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. Some of us are comfortable and secure enough with our intellects that we can sometimes read things that aren't all that challenging and enjoy them.

  • May 25, 2004, 5:55 a.m. CST

    Here we go again

    by ROBE

    Yes Rowling has "borrowed" from certain other writers, however you will discover that these writers "borrowed" from earlier writers and so on. I will soon be going to see the movie myself soon, however like Ribbons I and other people do wish Cuaron didn't keep changing things when there is no need for him to do this.

  • May 25, 2004, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Hermione

    by Itchy

    has cast a magic spell on my pants ... and there's something growing in there.

  • May 25, 2004, 8:32 a.m. CST

    Don't worry, starting with Goblet of Fire the movies will be bac

    by ExcaliburFfolkes

    Warner Brothers just moved this one to the summer so that it wouldn't have three major franchise films (The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter) coming out all at the same time. WB is a major stockholder in New Line films.

  • May 25, 2004, 8:32 a.m. CST

    Don't worry, starting with Goblet of Fire the movies will be bac

    by ExcaliburFfolkes

    Warner Brothers just moved this one to the summer so that it wouldn't have three major franchise films (The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter) coming out all at the same time. WB is a major stockholder in New Line films.

  • May 25, 2004, 11:20 a.m. CST

    GadZookss said it before I could...

    by Bart of Darkness

    But then I've only JUST been able to load this page. Harry, news isn't news when you can't read it until DAYS later due to poor bandwidth. Think of all those lonely Amazon links that will go unclicked!

  • May 25, 2004, 3:51 p.m. CST

    bobby_horsepower is absoloutely right..

    by Rob_Graves

    Harry may be the fan of every overweight geek who has a dream on this site, but his reviews are useless tripe. I have been visiting aintitcool since Phantom Menace was in production, and if there is one thing that is consistant in his reviews, it is that he loves all or part of anything. He is a cool guy who runs a cool site, but his reviews are the incoherent ramblings that serve only one purpose, jack off those who might someday give him attention, or better yet, money. Rotten Tomatoes is the way to go, any reviews on this site should be for entertainment only. Also, I went to Mensa with William Shatner, only his name was Darth Jeremy back then.

  • May 25, 2004, 8:31 p.m. CST

    hermione

    by cybertank

    hey, why would she start ovulating if she wasn't ready for some hot fatman-boy loving?

  • May 25, 2004, 11:06 p.m. CST

    freakin' pervs

    by greyspecter

    stop slobbering over a 13 year old!!! i understand that you can't get a girl to save your life, but there's no need to vent your closet pedophilia. i must admit that Harry is notoriously WRONG in his reviews (Van Why-The-Hell-Did-I-Go-See-It-ing. but i think PoA is gonna be good. it was my favorite of the three before Goblet and Phoenix (which few seem to like but i thought was the best thus far). and for those criticizing Rowling for being a Hack. Write 5 best-sellers and then you can talk (which means you'll be hearing from me in 10 years. hee hee). otherwise, shut the h-e-double hockey stick- up already. i enjoy the books and while they aren't on par with The Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia in the pantheon of kids' lit, they're good for what they are. pax

  • May 25, 2004, 11:15 p.m. CST

    anybody...

    by rex_dart

    that complains about JK Rowling "borrowing" from other sources, and still raves about the boring Kill Bill movies (where everything was stolen from nearly every damn movie EVER MADE), should be shot in the face with the hypocrite gun. And lay off of Spock....he died for your sins...

  • May 25, 2004, 11:32 p.m. CST

    Excited!!!

    by faerieprincess

    I absolutely love the books and the movies have been fulfilling. However, I am excited about the more dark and older tone of "Azkaban". The series is progressing exactly as it should be. I'm upset though about a quote a Harry exec had in The Sun. He said they were too old now for the series, and that they probably wouldn't go past "Goblet!" What the hell is he thinking! Replacing them now when they are Harry, Ron and Hermione will ruin the series. It would be like Lucas replacing Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill! I feel like their aging is natural as in the books. These idiots in Hollywood don't have a clue, do they?!

  • May 26, 2004, 1:27 a.m. CST

    Hopefully they won't cut too much out of Goblet of Fire when the

    by ExcaliburFfolkes

    I hope they just embrace the long length the story requires and make a 3 1/2 hour film out of it. The LOTR movies proved that epic fantasy films can be long and still be huge hits.

  • May 26, 2004, 1:44 a.m. CST

    Faireprincess, I agree replacing the original kids would be a gi

    by ExcaliburFfolkes

    There is no way the studio could pull it off and make it believable. I wouldn't put it past Warner Brothers (or any studio for that matter) to try it. Ultimately, it probably has more to do with escalating salaries then it does with actors growing up.

  • May 26, 2004, 1:59 a.m. CST

    Everyone take a drink, Harry reminded us AGAIN he hasn't read th

    by SexyBeast

    It has become a Potter tradition at this point, but does anyone here not know yet Harry has not read Harry Potter? BTW, of course PoA is going to rule, it is the best of the series so far, and that is saying ALOT, because every Harry Potter book is absolute gold.

  • May 26, 2004, 2:25 a.m. CST

    Excellent review.

    by AnnoyYou

    For someone who hasn't read the books, Harry, you have a very good take on Potter's character (as does Cuaron, if he's able to foreshadow the HP in "Order of the Phoenix" so well). Radcliffe is growing with the character, which is wonderful, as are Grint and Watson (I'd forgotten that in the books Hermione isn't nearly as attractive as Watson, but Watson's Hermione is just as smart, brave and unselfish as the book character so it doesn't matter). Thank God Cuaron took on the best of the five books (so far), and I'm really looking forward to seeing what Mike Newell does with the next-best book in '06 (waaah! It's LotR all over again!)

  • May 26, 2004, 2:29 a.m. CST

    HP VH & Troy

    by 900LBGorilla

    I would never have gone to a HP movie if I hadn't been taking a child. I am looking foreward to thi sthough. I thought the 1st 2 movies were very well done, and the books supposedly get darker/more adult as the series goes on. I hope Cauron did get it right, the newe dumbledore isn't selling me though (albiet Mr. Harris is a VERY tough act to follow). =============== The only thing that worries me about Harrys review is that he seems to be giving Van Helsing a nod as well- Note to all - the movie SUCKED. If you want brainless (REALLY) CG and action so unrealistic it COMPLETELY lacks drama, VH is for you. It's basically a cartoon. =============== Troy was very good. Dont see why there's all the hate over this. It didn't follow the Illiad that well, but the changes were mostly not bad (can't believe Im saying this). Ajax's fate is better, the fight between Achilles & Hector is better (In fact this may be the best chorographed fight ever put on film- it was amazing), and making this more a history tale (as it may really have been to some extent) than a myth based film gave the movie more drama (From a fantastical standpoint it would have been clash of the titan type stuff with lots of greek gods albiet sans the monsters if they went by the book). Great action flick. Oh and for the Record Achilles kicked ass and so Did Pitt in the role (and incidentally Achilles IS described as blonde in the last version I read).

  • May 26, 2004, 2:02 p.m. CST

    They should break Goblet of Fire up into two movies

    by SexyBeast

    GoF as one movie would be a complete mess.

  • May 31, 2004, 3:35 p.m. CST

    Harry Potter 3 Sucks Ass

    by BobbyCaustic

    Warning: If you are such a fucking idiot that you are researching information for a film you don't want spoiled for you, you might not want to fucking read this you goddamn muppet. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was probably my favorite book in the series. I made it through the first four books in about a week and a half, and subsequently reread the lot of them several times each and have the books on tape by Jim Dale, which I highly recommend to the legions of illiterate me too's. While I love the books, and find them accessible, extrodinarily imaginative, an obbsession you kind of fall into, I also have a background in theater, and am not opposed to the trimming of the classics for the sake of film. Now, here you have a book that sells in the millions, like few other pieces of entertainment, Harry Potter has united the masses, from fat slobbery role playing anime comic book freaks, to skinny little sugar buzzing yugi-oh-amon 11 year olds, school teachers, hippies, yuppies, Harry Potter has some unlikely fans. The first two movies are among the top ten grossing films of all time...why? Because they were cinematic masterpieces? Give me a break, idiot. Because of the material that backed them up, of course. I was highly dissapointed in this film. Why? Because it was a bad movie? Well, for the most part, that is untrue. The source material is almost a failsafe to prevent this being an unwatchable film. If I'd never read the books, I probably would have positively liked it. I disliked this film not for what it was, but for what it could be and wasn't. The saving grace of the first two films in my oppinion, is while the acting wasn't always ideal, while the music was annoying and the script was all too gooey, the look of the film was exceptional. Most everything looked right. Not everything, but most everything. When i reread the books it gave me an exceptable sense of space to let scenes play out in my own head, while I waited with baited breath for the film series to grow up as Harry Potter grew up. Perhaps Warner Bros. have heard similar complaints that the first two movies were too much aimed at kid's with such a broad fanbase. So they hire this idiot to bring the film series into puberty, meaning all the characters should automatically age about 3 years, and all the colors of the film should be tinted blue and grey, and the music should be spookier, and Harry Potter should throw tantrums. This is how the film has grown up. Really. My next complaint and this is something that really, really bothered me, was lack of continuity. There is just no effort whatsoever to make the audience feel as though they are watching the next chapter in an ongoing series other than most of the principal cast returning. Hogwarts castle looks different in almost everyway. The ceiling in the main hall no longer reflects the night sky but a large variety of stellar bodies. Ohh, pretty, perhaps more visually appealing but very irresponsible to what you are here to do Mr. Cu-whatever, which is to give us the best possible interpretation of one of our favorite stories. I mean you'd think it was fucking Tim Burton drilling away on planet of the apes. His "reimagining". fuck you, you cunting bastard. I don't want a reimagining. I want more intense emotional arcs, deeper character exploration, not updated eye candy. He should have left well enough alone, and instead explored the many many other visual delights of the book. The merchandizing figures alone would justify bring all the cool and weird creatures that proffesor lupin has lurking in his DATDA classroom. And here we come to professor lupin. as JKR puts him : "The stranger was wearing an extremely shabby set of wizard's robes that had been darned in several places. He looked ill and exhausted. Though quite young, his light brown hair was flecked with gray." Mr. Alphonzo translates this to: "A sweaty lump with a child molester mustache hiding under a blanket on the train " Harry meets Mr. Molester and with no setup what soever they are automatically best friends who go on long walks together around the school grounds and talk about deeply personal matters. Whatever. The Weasely twins, while I have no problems with the actors, are completely wasted. They are one of the best parts of the book, and they are always up to no good, but here they just chip in and ask proper questions to keep the plot chugging along. Professor Flitwick has disappeared, or died, or pokevolved into a different kind of musical midget, though it's never made clear. The new proffesor dumbledore may be on the right track to nailing the character ("Professor Dumbledore, though very old, always gave an impression of great energy.") but gives no regard whatsoever to the performance of Richard Harris, so nobody will even be close to fooled that it might be the same guy, which we want to believe, because we like dumbledore, and the idea that he also mysteriously pokevolved is and uncomfortable thought and absurd cinema continuity. Next you have Sirius Black, hopefully safe in the hands of the reputable Gary Oldman. The big problem here is he is the audience is given false character information to promote the idea that he is a maniac, like the Grim growling and barking at Harry in the film's opening, Sirius doing the crazy guy freakout on the wanted poster (" A large photograph of a sunken-faced man with long, matted hair blinked slowly at Harry from the front page.") and the fact that his presence is barely felt throughout the course of the movie, other than the fact that they talk about him. And that bit in the review about the Dusleys being oh so scared of the boy who can do anything he wants to twilight zone bullshit i think harry knowles was spouting is utter rubbish. the only time they look remotely scared of him is when harry points his wand directly at uncle dursleys chest before he goes running out of the house. It would have been a nice touch and in keeping with the book but sorry harry you didn't see what you pretended you saw. And Dudley Dursley looks stupid in a fat suit. Also, wizards, who apperntly are unfamiliar with the concept of a rubber ducky , all shop at the gap. No longer are we stepping through the looking glass where anything from the "real world" is strange and alien. No this is film franchise cloud coocoo land, and this is no longer escapist fantasy it is a sears catalogue. Big mistake as the film will look so dated ten of fifteen years from now it will look as ancient as scooby doo cartoons. But here in dream rapist land we are only interested with instant accessibility and the almighty quick buck. There is just so much wrong with thismovie and I'm tired of typing so I'll let you folks decide, but for me the only thing this film accomplishes other than swindeling real fan's hard earned money is initiating those who dismissed harry potter as the next pokemon. and as much money as the franchise was already raking in, was it neccisary to step on the toes of those who didn't need to be led by the hand?

  • June 2, 2004, 10:39 p.m. CST

    His name is LYND Ward, Harry...

    by Bologna Kids

    ...not Lynne. God, it's bad enough my own printmaking professor didn't know his name...

  • June 3, 2004, 4:59 p.m. CST

    "Perhaps my favorite is his CG Werewolf"

    by DarthCorleone

    But unless Hogwarts is infested by vampires, how could this movie possibly be any good?

  • June 3, 2004, 6:14 p.m. CST

    Harry Potter saga needs Chris Columbus

    by kev_uk

    PoA is a good film by all standards, but a disappointment compared to previous Potter films. This is down to the poor script editing from the book, and a more direct approach by Cuar

  • June 4, 2004, 6:11 a.m. CST

    This film is a f*cking masterpiece

    by Reverendz

    It had balls, it had flair and it had courage to do something new and for 99% of it, when it worked, it SANG. The entire look of the film is dark, dank and SPOOKY. ****** The claustrophobia constantly reminded by the presence of the Azkhaban Dementors + the murderous Sirius Black. It's Like this book should be. Harrys entrance into adolescence should not be well lit with static shots and clean set pieces. It should be kind of kooky and spooky and more than a little scary. Which it is. I've READ the book many times and I still felt that Pettigrew was going to die that night, so good were the performances of Oldman and Thewlis. It was touching and note perfect. Jesus so much was said with so little. Cuaron is a master with acting and emotions and capturing what is at the heart of the story and of the world. THIS is the film that people will be watching 20-30 years from now and calling it "empire". Just you wait and see.

  • June 4, 2004, 6:10 p.m. CST

    from the UK

    by kiwiUK

    I have taken my children to see this film three times so far, and so far they have not complained one bit - neither have I. There are scenes in this film which, IMO, are more economically constructed than their counterparts in the book - the train/Dementor scene for example. As I mentioned in a previous post, I felt this film was too short, at least 20 minutes too short. 20 minutes could have been used to flesh out certain key plot devices - such as the Hermione's time device and where she got it from. Also more of Harry entering the Hogsmeade tunnel etc. I was particularly taken with Thewliss's(sp?) Lupin - a reminder of the actor Michael Redgrave. The books are a delight to read - yes, even for adults. They contain wry observations on modern society, our attitude to children and those less fortunate than ourselves, loss and suffering and the wealth of having parents and loving relationships. In summation, this film IMO is an excellent rendition of a more darker narrative that sets the tone for the books - and films - to come. I certainly hope the same actors continue for the entire series!

  • June 4, 2004, 7:15 p.m. CST

    BobbyCaustic

    by Confabulat

    You are an idiot, sir. Nuff said.

  • June 4, 2004, 9:33 p.m. CST

    Compressed Potter

    by iactive1

    I loved the film, but felt too much of the detail was compressed out. The rushed nature of the film gave a feeling of squeezing the life out of the film... the save potter buttons, the explanation of who moonie, padfoot, prongs and wormtail was never given. You see for a moment that the partonus was the "prongs" spirit of harry's father but no explanation of him being an animagus was ever given - they editied it out - I think the muggles who see it will enjoy it - they are muggles - but the faithful will be scratching their head at the loss.... for all of columbus' shortcomings he left the story in tact. Alfonso has put beauty in place of story - the typical ego of hollywood sadly.

  • June 4, 2004, 9:45 p.m. CST

    Why I love this movie

    by BDT

    I don't know where I read it, but around the time HP 1 came out, the actors said that Rowling was consulting and guiding the movie and gave each actor more insight into where the characters are coming from AND where they will be going in the future books. Since Harry is growing up and deals more and more with ever-shifting perceptions of good and evil, I am glad that the movies are going away from the whimsical style of Chris Columbus to more nuanced and artistic styles. I loved PoA. PoA is my favorite book of the five so far, and I beg to differ will all who put down Order of the Pheonix. I love how Harry is now learning that not everything is how it appears. Pheonix is my second favorite book. This is a movie site, so it makes sense that most people here like CoS & Goblet best, as they are the most action-packed. Rowling writes in a fun, suspenseful style with a wonderful insight into her characters. The fact that she has blatantly borrowed from other literary works doesn't bother me. I just hope educators put the kiddos straight about who wrote about a giant Spider and dark-hooded death-spirits first.

  • June 4, 2004, 10:18 p.m. CST

    Oh...and the Painting ....

    by BDT

    Now that I am thinking about, there is about 30 minutes I wish were added to the movie...like Sir Cadogan! There was a knight in a painting in the background that had that I'm sure was Sir Cadogan. I giggled the two times you can see that painting...very Monty Python-esque. How about a director's cut with some extra footage? The ghosts are playing the Headless Hunt, which should have been revealed in HP2 with Nearly Headless Nick's attempt to get invited into the "club" by throwing himself a posh deathday party (I think Nick mentions the Headless Hunt snub in HP1 movie). Secondary plot stuff, to be sure, but Harry, you really should read the books! You would get so much more out of the subtle stuff.

  • June 4, 2004, 11 p.m. CST

    BDT -- re: Sir Cadogan

    by SmarkJobber

    I was looking forward to seeing Cadogan, as well. He was one of my favorite things in "PoA." The weird thing is, my having read the book filled in blanks while I was watching the movie. It didn't feel like Sir Cadogan wasn't there, because he was there in a few shots, and I know how that character ultimately plays out in the story. However, I saw "PoA" with a friend who doesn't read the books, and one of his gripes was that it felt like he was being left out on some information/jokes. Reading the books are a blessing and a curse when it comes to viewing the movies (I'm in the mood for a little rant, so...). A blessing because you know the details behind every scene, but a curse for the lack of surprise in the plot. I enjoy the first two movies, but they didn't surprise me in execution -- they're too faithful to the details, and concerned with getting everything crammed in there. "PoA," on the other hand, surprised me left and right, because it was so damned daring (compared to the first movies). There is nuance and a personal touch with Cuaron, instead of Columbus's sterilized, straight-ahead approach which is much more appreciated by me. "PoA" doesn't feel like a book-on-film like "Chamber" or "Sorcerer's Stone." It's a real cinema.

  • June 5, 2004, 2:10 a.m. CST

    At a movie every 2 years, Harry is gonna be looking a bit long

    by Lezbo Milk

    Don't you think? I mean if there are 7 books, thats 4 movies away or 8 years. One year passes for each book, but two or more years passes for each movie. How do you deal with that?

  • June 5, 2004, 2:18 p.m. CST

    To all of the Self-Righteous reviewers here

    by Dakryn

    I have read many unhappy reviews by all the Harry Potter Geeks and how they didn't get to see this character, and that scene, and blah blah blah in the last movie; well, Get over it! Will there ever be a time when any of you will let yourselves be entertained without dissecting a movie? I mean, can you do a better job? I highly doubt it, because you would be doing it if it was the case. All this animosity because Cueron "Matured" the movie, so what?. I like it better this way because Radcliffe, Grint and Watson would have looked stupid trying to play little kids. Now they seem adolescent, which matches their maturity level. Unlike you complainers. "Boo Hoo, Cueron sucked the life out of the movie..." Read the book, then. If you don't like the movie, don't watch it. If you don't enjoy forgetting about your goddamn criticism, then no movies are made for you. Usually those who dissect the movie like that have something to say about EVERYTHING. You are those damn annoying nerds that won't shut up in the movie theater complaining about how "that didn't happen" and "that's not what he says" and how "That looked cheezy". If all you geeks are going to do is complain about every Harry Potter movie, do yourselves a favor and DONT WATCH THEM! nobody enjoys their movie being ruined by a loud and unhappy know-it-all.

  • June 5, 2004, 3:43 p.m. CST

    What a Disappointment

    by KingCobra

    I understand that there will always be concessions when translating a book into a movie. I understand that certain plot points and characters will be, in some cases, completely eliminated in the name of brevity. But the makers of the Azkaban movie just completely ignored what, for me and others I know, is the emotional knockout punch of the entire series. People who watch the movie and never read the books will wonder what that deer-like figure is that chases the dementors away. Those who have read the book know that it's a patronus who has assumed the form of Harry's Father. His realization that his Father "Prongs" actually saved him is the most touching moment of the entire book. But in the movie, that point is never made to the viewer. And the names Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail and Prongs are never explained. These two points could have been explained easily, and would have added, at the most, two minutes to the film. Why on earth would they leave this out? The rest of the film is executed fairly well, although the explanation of Sirius and Pettigrew's roles were a tad rushed. Still, I can live with that. It's just a shame that Cuaron and company inexplicably ignored a moment that could have made this movie a classic.

  • June 5, 2004, 4:14 p.m. CST

    My only 2 problems with the new Potter....

    by trafficguy2000

    Why did they leave out the part that explains the signifigance of the map?And why did they make Sirius only commit the one crime and not include the muggles that he killed?

  • June 6, 2004, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Cuaron & SmarkJobber

    by BDT

    I am surprised that, in so many things I read about this director, I rarely read that he directed A Little Princess, which I adored. I thought it was smart, stylish and paid attention to details. It seemed to pop right from one's own imagination. I also want SmarkJobber to know that I also was delighted by the personal touch of Cuaron in HP PoA. Mostly because of the humor, which is in the book, when you read it, but gets pushed out a bit when you get into the plot. The humor in the movie plays out to visually surprise, even though we know the plot. Like Aunt Marge. The descriptions in the book largely go to describing the past and growing tension between Aunt Marge, Harry and "Ripper" as well as to describe Harry's motivation for trying to be civil with Aunt Marge. Not too much time goes into that, but by the time things blow up (forgive the pun), the humor is so visual and funny, that you cannot help but know that the tension had been building in a way not altogether conveyed by the movie. I have read the book two times as well as listened to it countless times on tape. SmarkJobber, I did tend to fill in all the details, which I only realized I was doing afterwords when I thought about it, and then started to wish some things were fleshed out more-- thus the wish for an extended edition. But, like, LotR, I am so happy when a movie gives us enough to enjoy in it's own medium, but really inspires young people to read.

  • June 6, 2004, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Short and hurried, though last 30 minutes were good

    by arbour

    I feel bad criticizing this movie, b/c it's better than 99% of the current stuff for kids. But they are rushing the story far too much, there's little breathing room in here. ----------- Some brilliant storylines were completely dropped. In the book, Hermione and Ron had a rip-roaring fight over the death of his rat, and both ron and harry froze her out for more than 2 months. She was reduced to tears crying to Hagrid. To show all this on screen would have been immensely powerful, and these actors could have handled it, and kids would have loved it. Instead, we get a little bickering between ron and herm, and then Hagrid's had the rat all the time! Huh? R and H's hostility here would be the precursor to what happens in GoF --------- watson is doing a fine job, and can take over a scene, and the boys have improved as well. GoF has to be 2 movies, b/c there's so much story, and everyone can take time to flesh things out, let the sub-plots take force, and move away from centering on Harry the whole time.

  • June 6, 2004, 5:45 p.m. CST

    "Prisoner of Azkaban" as a FILM is outstanding and positions the

    by NotchJohnson

    First off, we need to acknowledge that the "Harry Potter" fan universe now includes two distinct groups: the book readers and the movie watchers. Virtually all the book readers are going to see the movies; that is certainly not the case for the movie watchers. I am in the "movie watchers" category. I love the HP movies, but have never read one sentence of any of the books. (And YES, I do read lots of kinds of books, including fantasy. Just not HP.) If you're judging "Prisoner of Azkaban" through the "movie watcher" perspective, there is no doubt that Cuaron soars in this regard. Inside the first 15 minutes of the film, I could see that there was a shift.... the tone was certainly darker, but not "forced darkness" (someone saying something or cheap, brooding music), but just this general atmosphere of seriousness that was not there in the first two films. Chris Columbus' direction of the first two films was workmanlike, almost like a PowerPoint presentation/checklist.....OK, let's get in the train ride....let's get in the Quidditch match....let's get in the magical mirror....it just seemed like 20-30 scenes patched together. With "Azkaban," there is a layered texture to the story....the scenes build on each other, feed off each other. We see early on Harry's regret about his dead parents, we see shades of it later, we then see those regrets turn to anger....we then see that anger channeled into action...real layering of a story. The first two films did this, but in a more straightforward "Harry is angry, now Harry is nice, now Harry is determined" pattern. Does anyone here get what I'm saying? Cuaron's biggest magic trick here--really really awesome--is that he has given us something completely familiar yet completely different at the *same time*. You see Hogwart's, you see the dining hall, you see Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Dumbledore, etc., but it's just better. HERE IS WHERE I MAY OFFEND THE BOOK FANS. I have no doubt that the books contain greater backstory and depth to almost all major scenes we see onscreen, but again, Cuaron realized (more than Columbus) that he's making a *movie*, not just a filmed Cliff's Notes. Of course, it may be disappointing that Cuaron sliced out several key scenes, but again, he's not doing Shakespeare's "King Lear" - not every last word has to be preserved. From what I saw in the movie, the pace was crisp, the story constantly moved along, and the third act did not drag on too long. (In "Chamber of Secrets," I looked at my watch several times....this time, I never looked at it once.) The books and the films should be judged separately, within the context of their own mediums. It's not fair to judge another medium based on the constraints or possibilities of the other. Another thing. Before seeing "Azkaban," I was thinking Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint were becoming too old for these PG-rated adventure. Cuaron's shifting of the tone, and maturing the story, have positioned each of these actors perfectly. If Mike Newell ("Goblet of Fire") can maintain this tone and not go Lucas on us and "give us Ewoks" again, there's no reason why the main actors cannot keep going down this darker, more serious path of adventures. Notch out.

  • June 6, 2004, 11:18 p.m. CST

    Azkaban is the best so far...

    by apw100

    I though Azkaban was a much better, more emotionally satisfiying film than the first two installments. Chris Columbus did a good job, however his films seemed too slick and emotionally detatched. It seems that Cuaron is more interested in making a good film, with depth and feeling, rather than trying to shoehorn every detail of the book into the movie.

  • June 7, 2004, 3:34 a.m. CST

    Kirk , Spock , McCoy

    by ekr1701

    As i watched the 3rd potter film perhaps the best , and definitley the most mature themed . But the relationship between the three main characters so copies, the complexities of the three main star trek characters is errie........ harry\kirk ( the leader and hub everyone centers around. Famous among there Peers) Hermione/Spock, both smart as hell, always with the answer, and a solution, both dealing with being of two diffent worlds. both are half breds. vulcan/human, Muggle/witch...... Ron/McCoy... The Human Condtion the person who keeps the other two characters grounded. The one who never takes things as serious as they should or need to.!!!!!

  • June 8, 2004, 3:32 a.m. CST

    MuggleFucker

    by Bananas

    Yo: Once upon a time WB comissioned little-known Detroit rap group Creacha Feacha to do a hip-hop song for the first Potter film: It turned into a debacle for both Creacha Feacha and Warner Brothers and the song was buried but Creacha Feacha has now put it up on their site! The song is called "Magic" http://www.creachafeacha.com

  • June 8, 2004, 8:06 p.m. CST

    talking back? no, please agree.

    by BobbyCaustic

    To all of the Self-Righteous reviewers here<< i whole heartedly appreciate the maturation of the film, however i expected it. harry gets older and the world around him starts growing up. that didn't bother me in the least, and the film would have been incomplete if it hadn't matured. i find it ammusing that i have actually recieved hate mail and virus attempts because i didn't like this movie and said so. whatever. as i said in my review, which is invalid by the way because it wasn't positive,i didn't think it was a bad movie persay, but a poor interpretation. i loved the lord of the rings and really felt warmed by the attention to detail. the fact that they could cram so much into the background of the scene really made you feel as though you were experiencing a real world. and thats what i wanted with harry potter. i didn't want a literal translation. that would be cumbersome and boring. but just because you don't draw attention to details doesn't mean they can't be there. and i'm sorry but i think you could make a grown up harry potter film without sacrificing the preexisting setting forever commited to film. i think poa is a better film than the previous installments yes, but a poorer translation. and i am still really pissed off that wizards now dress like muggles. i stand by my review and am amazingly still capable of being happy.

  • June 10, 2004, 8:35 a.m. CST

    Hippogriff

    by The Jailer

    I totally agree with Harry in his appreciation of the Hippogriff. What an amazing piece of animation! Best I've seen yet.

  • June 11, 2004, 5:53 a.m. CST

    Harry Potter

    by Tigereye

    I wanted to love this movie yet sat though it saying to myself 'I'm going to get into it soon, real soon now.' Perhaps my heart is dead and my soul removed. I just didn't like it. Perhaps my expectations were set too high. I felt the pace of the movie was RUSHED big time. They took SO MANY liberties with the book that I can't even begin where to start. Which is fine. There should have been a scene to introduce the new Dumbledoor, there should have been more Snape. Malfoy was a big wet pussy, He used to be the typical school bully and school time Nemeses of Harry, this movie he just lost total face. He was a little git in the first two movies now he just was there as comic relief. By the way did Hogwarts suddenly get a massive facelift, this was not the Hogwarts from the first two movies, plus is Hagrid's cabin the TARDIS because I don

  • June 12, 2004, 7:56 a.m. CST

    Alfonso is Shite

    by fevriul

    He added his own flair and fucked it up royally. All the people who slagged off CC, should shut the fuck up, at least he filmed the Box, while this fuckwit , tried to do Alfonso version of Harry Potter!, Fucking tool, its a lucky thing for the film bosses that People will go to see them no matter what. Hopefully we can get back to a director that will film the FUCKING BOOK!!! :((( By the way, changing all the fucking locations was a fucking moronic thing to do, suddenly hogwarts is supposed to be half way up a fucking mountain is it??? This film looked like a bad rip off of Sleepy Hollow. Fuck Alfonso, fuck him up his stupid arse!

  • June 12, 2004, 2:30 p.m. CST

    disappointing movie

    by hogieBENpeirogie

    I've read the book, and this movie left out WAY too much that was important, but my biggest complaint is that Malfoy is now gay. He almost cries when Hermionie puts a wand to his neck, he runs away sobbing when Hermionie puches him, and now he does oragami. What a homo - hardly the bully he SHOULD have been...

  • June 15, 2004, 10:52 p.m. CST

    BobbyCaustic is right

    by Nowanda

    This movie was horrible. I am a huge fan of the books and enjoyed the first 2 movies even though they were not Oscar worthy like their fantasy stablemate LOTR. Regardless, Azakban was my favorite book and I believed the advertising hype that this was the mature movie for all fans, not a dumbed down kids movie. I was wrong. This movie has so many problems I can't begin to explain. I may have to go reread the book just to remind myself I was right in the first place and it was the WB and Cuaron and the Exec Producers who did there best to ruin a perfectly wonderful book and possibily the integrity of the movie series.

  • June 17, 2004, 4:27 a.m. CST

    My review - disapointed, stick to the book

    by BeesKnees

    Okay - I know you have all been waiting for it......here it is.... So - we get into Gold Class and I order a rum (which never arrives), I was sick as a dog and just wanted to sleep......ohhh....sorry, about the movie......okay Well as Diz said Ron, Harry and Hermonie were GREAT. But have you actually noticed that Hermonie seems to do it ALL. "She" is the one that masters magic, she turns back time, she played the chess game in HP1.....anyway - I was sort of hoping Harry might come across as the great wizard that he is meant to be, and the dementers and the counterspell for these was his chance, But.....as Tiger said, they had soooo much and hey jammed it into 2hours, when they could have done it better and used the 2.5hours. They never "overplayed" the counterspell regardingt he dememters, for when Harry creats his father's ANIME...this was a HUGE part in the book and they brushed over it. This was dissapointing. They "touched" on the time travel and why Hermonie could do it, and the divination classes were short and sweet....were the book was lengthy and humorous. Anyway.....apart from that, Dumbeldore, was GREAT. You would never even know that he is someone knew, he slipped into the role, perfectly! Sirus is FANTASTIC and I can't wait for his role in the next one. MALFOY sucked, I donlt know what it was but he was no longer nasty and mean, just pathetic...but maybe that is how they wanted it portrayed. All I can say is - I hope they keep Harry in the next ones - and for anyone that has read the book - well the movie is a little dissapointing, but sets the scene with Sirus and Lupin and Pettigrew in readiness for the next movie (which, apart from "Order of the Phoenix" is the BEST ONE!!!!) Bring on......"GOBLET OF FIRE"......Cedric, Emily, the introduction of other schools, dragons, Hagrid's girlfriend and more excellent ADVENTURE. My score 3.5 I am afriad - I would recommend to read the book over the movie (then again - the book is aways better right)

  • June 17, 2004, 4:48 p.m. CST

    Columbus? FUCK THAT.

    by 3rdrate

    Columbus made the two most unimaginative by-the-numbers Potter flicks out there, and the only reason they dont fail is because a by-the-numbers movie based on a Potter book can ONLY be good. Cuaron, on the other hand, made a real fucking movie.

  • June 19, 2004, 10:36 a.m. CST

    Chris Columbus! How about Steven Spielberg?

    by Maleyj1

    Spielberg would adapt one of these books perfectly. I hope they beg him to direct the last one.

  • June 23, 2004, 5:14 a.m. CST

    IMPLIED SEX IN ENDING CREDITS?? CLICK HERE . . .

    by 81666

    I thought this was a pretty cheeky, funny visual joke entered at the end credits. It may be my imagination running a bit, but during the end credits, a minute or so after the "toil and trouble, something wicked this way come" song plays, keep your eyes on the very left bottom of the screen. as the map travel it will begin to go right, and the whole running gag is that there are feet walking around, representing their individual owners . . . HERE'S THE GAG, for a very short coupld of seconds, you see two pairs of feet, one, in between the other, the other feet are spread, almost like a missionary position, and seemingly tremble really quickly as if it were in a sexual position. I was laughing at this because i thought it was a pretty funny joke to insert after the director has been known for his other raunchy, but well made film "Y tu mama tambien" - 81666

  • Dec. 17, 2004, 10:23 a.m. CST

    I never expected HARRY POTTER 3 to be one of the best movies of

    by Spacesheik

    But it is. Cuaron does brilliant work here. It's disturbing, dark, complex, passionate, and ultimately, uplifting. I have seen it once already and I have this nagging urge to see it again. The John Williams score, especially during the Griffin flying sequence is brilliant.

  • Nov. 16, 2009, 1:23 a.m. CST

    This movie is a classic why oh why didn't Alfonso come back??

    by supercowbell5THECOWBELLHASSPOKEN