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Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban



****

As Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin Year Three at Hogwarts, mass murderer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) escapes from Azkaban prison in order to kill Harry. The Dementors that guard Azkaban are assigned to protect Hogwarts, however, their love for gloom, misery and troubled souls draw them to Harry, putting his life at stake.

The first two films (2001-2) had the family friendly feel associated with the films of Chris Columbus - think Home Alone (1990) and Mrs Doubtfire (1993) - and didn't get dark till the final half hour to forty-five minutes, which was appropriate as the first two books (1997-8) were aimed for 8-13 year olds when JK Rowling wrote them. Like the third book (1999) the film series takes an all-round dark turn with this film, which the rest of the films (2005-2011) would also be given.

Under the direction and design of acclaimed Mexican Auteur Alfonso Cauron, the film is given a very effective gothic design, dimly lit and full of darkness, despair and a theme of death. The Dementors - gliding, tall and black cloaked - stand out as a representation of death, and, in both their design and their hatred for all things good and happy, can be greatly compared to the Grim Reaper. As for Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) - who transforms into a werewolf at every full moon - his gaunt face, scarred and hollowed, shows very effectively how some people's lives can be almost deathly, while his transformation into a werewolf is a genuine masterpiece of editing, thanks to its intricate detail and raw power as a scene.

As with the previous films, the three leads are supported by a most excellent ensemble of British talent. Taking over the role of Professor Dumbledore, following Richard Harris's death in 2002, Sir Michael Gambon brings wisdom and his own type of charm to the role; Robbie Coltrane makes Hagrid both heartbreaking and heartwarming (depending on the scene); Thewlis brings wisdom and authority to the role of Lupin, and makes the fear and hate Lupin feels for his werewolf condition ver heartfelt; Oldman brings deepness and complexity to Sirius, while Alan Rickman is as cold and harsh as ever as Snape; and Emma Thompson is wonderfully melodramatic and over-the-top as Professor Trelawney.

All-in-all, this is a beautifully designed film, that was created so well by Cauron, and thanks to its deliciously dark feel it is, in the view of myself and millions of various critics and viewers, the best Potter film to date.


2004.
PG.
Stars:
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewlis, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Maggie Smith, Tom Felton, Timothy Spall, Robert Hardy, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Dawn French, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Pam Ferris, Julie Christie, David Bradley.

Oscar nominations: Best Visual Effects (Tim Burke, Roger Guyett, Bill George, John Richardson), Best Original Score (John Williams).

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