HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Burrahobbits, 06-08-04
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was the second basically flawless film we saw in as many outings, this one with our friends of the Burrahobbits reading group. If you care about the movies, you’ve probably read the book, so I won’t bother with a synopsis. The movie is tightly plotted: I have to agree that leaving out digessions such as the blast-ended skrewts was a good thing. Excellent design, with Hogwarts portrayed in a darker (literally—the stones look weathered, rather than gleaming) and more craggy landscape. The Knight Bus was well realized, and details such as the talking shrunken head dangling from the rear-view mirror were very nice. The time-related symbolism—giant pendulums and clock faces—was a bit obvious, but frequently beautiful, as in the scene with the armillaries. Very competent and maturing acting from Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint, well supported by the regulars. Additions to the cast this time were David Thewlis, very good in the melancholy role of Lupin; Gary Oldman, affecting in the short part of Sirius Black, and Emma Thomson, very hippie-dippy as Professor Trelawney. We were also pleased to see character actor Timothy Spall, whose work we have enjoyed elsewhere, as Peter Pettigrew. As all of these characters appear in later books (so far) we can hope to see more of them. (Also, not surprise cameo by Julie Christie as Madam Rosmerta--). We were VERY pleased with Micheal Gambon in the role of Dumbledore. I was never quite happy with Richard Harris’ portrayal. Dumbledore is supposed to be one of the great minds of his time, and those around him, such as the students, NEVER see him as a dodderer in the books. Gambon let the edge come through, and I predict he will make the role his own, particularly if he stays with the franchise through number five. (We’re also hoping that the admirable Maggie Smith hangs on—McGonigall has a big part in “Order of the Phoenix,” and we want to see her play it--.)
Good movie. Go see it if you haven’t gotten out of your cave yet.