Towards the end of last week, Cinecultist discovered our not particularly movie savvy boss at the Day Job had already seen Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban twice, when we hadn't even seen it once yet. This was something CC remedied post haste, but as soon as we walked out of the theater after the two hours, CC wanted to duck into another one just to see Daniel Radcliffe et al do it all over again. When a artistic product is set up from the outset as a serial — whether it be novels, movie sequels or even 69 Love Songs on 3 CD volumes — it is difficult to expect them to maintain or even build upon the quality of an original. What a relief then to see Harry Potter the movies following in the legacy of Harry Potter the novels in a progression of complexity and sophistication.
It's pretty easy to allow a review of Azkaban lapse into pot shots at Chris Columbus, and lord knows there are times when his treacly direction of the first two pictures deserved it. However! It is not just the take over by Alfonso Cuaron (he of the artsy threesome, Y Tu Mama Tambien) which results in such a splendid installment. Rather, it's the freedom allowed to all of the filmmakers, we're talking everyone from the title designers to the CGI geeks, to not produce a slavish 3 hour adaptation of the novel but a separate cinematic universe which strives to capture the tone as well as the details of the beloved books. It also wouldn't be a Harry Potter movie without the best supporting cast in all of the realm of Britainnia. David Thewlis, Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman all on screen at once? Now that's a threesome Cinecultist can really get excited about. Even John Williams' score sounds less like a amusement park ride theme song and more like a mood setting device. Kudos to all involved, Azkaban is a film Potter fanatics can be proud to call their own.Posted by karen at June 17, 2004 8:03 AM