Thursday, 19 January 2012

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Review

The mind of JK Rowling: "OK.  I've got to get this twit of a wizard child out of his abusive extended family and on his journey to Hogwarts again.  How shall I do it?  I know!  A bus.  But ... I'll make it ... a TRIPLE decker bus!  Oh, my.  How delightful.  And I'll include a shrunken Jamaican head just for shits and giggles."  Once you get past the eye rolling and ridiculous opening, the movie settles in like the two before it.  It is very episodic and takes forever to get going.  Each time, they waste a good 15 minutes reintroducing everyone and getting them on their way to the same place for the same stuff.  It works in books to do this re-exposition.  But in the movies, re-write it and, by the third one, assume your audience has had the sense to get themselves caught up.

Unlike the first two, though, when this one gets going, it actually doesn't get going.  When you make a movie that is over two hours long, you really need to make it entertaining to keep the audience's attention. In this one, by the time we figured out what the hell was going on, the end credits were starting.  It's so convoluted and indecisive that I just gave up halfway through and decided to just enjoy the scenery and effects.

Those are really the only redeeming qualities for Prisoner.  Visually, it is a very beautiful movie.  The effects are nearly flawless and the CGI and set design are great to watch.  And Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane deliver their usual strong performances.  Those flying wraith things (Dementios or something like that) are bone chilling and remind you that these really aren't kids movies.  But then, they claim that eating chocolate helps when you encounter one and it becomes a kids movie again.  And I think that may be my biggest beef with these stories.  Make up your mind.  Is it a dark fight between good and evil or is it a delightful little romp of adolescent wizards making mischief and experiencing these little anecdotes and tips for how the viewer/reader should live and enjoy life?  For all three so far, they go back and forth.

Finally, I was very disappointed to find that Gary Oldman didn't show up outside of the wanted posters until it was over half done and I had lost interest.  I thought they were really going to add some Hollywood clout to this with a tremendous actor.  But, instead, he comes late and gets very little screen time which is a shame.  I know: that's what the character is and they needed to stick to it.  But it was still a disappointment.

I will continue to watch them though because I want to give them a chance and I've been told that they get progressively better.  But, in my own experience, while they are getting better visually, they are getting worse in their story telling.  Hopefully Goblet of Fire will get us back on track.

Don't see it.  Obviously, if you want to do the whole gamut, you'll have to.  But I really cannot recommend it.