Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: From the first moments I could sense the new director. The whole look and feel was completely different from the first two films, at times bearing a strong resemblance to the work of Tim Burton. I liked it, over all – it’s been so many years since I read the book that I had no quibbles with any deviations from the text save Hermione’s marked lack of exhaustion (which, if you’ve read the book, you’ll probably notice as well). Otherwise, I thought it was fantastic. The computer graphics were remarkable. I found the fake people in the Quidditch match of the first film so obvious as to be distracting, but the Whomping Willow and hippogriff here were so well-integrated and gorgeously rendered I almost forgot they weren’t really there. I approve of the new director, though he says he has no intention of tackling the fourth film. The old Hogwarts felt more like a fantastic themepark exhibit, somewhere I’d love to visit but could never imagine as real. The Hogwarts of this film, however, had a more organic feel and its rich and sometimes dark history was much more evident, without losing the same magical air of the first two films. There is no question that this film was darker, but so was the book – the series has been growing increasingly more complex and angstful as it goes on. The characters are growing up and feeling the complicated and sometimes overwhelming emotions of being teenagers. Harry’s story does not shy away from this reality. Perhaps in the end that is what makes it so enjoyable: we empathize with Harry and cheer him on, despite his occasional irrationality. Even in his magical world, he’s still just like us at heart.

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