The movies: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
IMDb page SoS: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241527/
IMDb page CoS: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0295297/
IMDb page PoA: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304141/
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
The Marathon: I was waiting a year and a half for Prisoner of Azkaban. Patiently. Sometimes impatiently. Actually more often than not impatiently. Since I first saw the first preview for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone sometime in the summer of 2001 I knew I was going to become hooked. Since the premiere of the first one in late 2001 I absolutely flew through all of the books, most recently the amazing Order of the Phoenix and they couldn't put these things out fast enough for me.
So finally, after what felt like forever, today is the premiere of the third Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. After finishing my Mighty Ducks marathon and enjoying it so much, it felt almost necessary to do the same for the three Potter movies. By the way, I'm sorry for the quality of some of these pictures, it was pretty tough finding them and getting them to work.
I feel like everyone in the world has probably seen the first two Potter movies, so I'm a little reluctant to spend too much time talking about them. It's like people who say they haven't seen the original Star Wars, I wonder if you're straight up lying or just really weird. I wrote in the past how I thought of Harry Potter to be this generation's Star Wars and that theory becomes more solid as the novels and movies continue to come out. Since the new Star Wars are too busy being torn apart by the nerds and people who can't let go of the old ones and accept the new ones for the sugar coating they've put on, Harry Potter offers both young viewers and old the absolute pure goodness of cinema and storytelling with extremely beautiful visuals.
Sorcerer's Stone was all about introductions. Just as Harry was introduced into the world of magic after Hagrid burst through his cabin door, we the viewers were also taken to new places, and we had to spend time becoming comfortable with our surroundings. The way Ron and Hermione were brought in was done perfectly right, where in some movies we are just shown new important characters and expected to accept and like them, we are casually introduced to Harry's friends just as Harry is, and spend time watching the relationships build into ones we can trust just as Harry can.
Chamber of Secrets didn't have to spend time introducing anything, and we were immediately able to hop right into a complex story we characters we already knew and loved. I think CoS is more about trust than anything. Harry and crew are entering the years just before the teen years, when things stop being purely black and white, and you have to rely on your instincts and the things you trust. This is most evident to me in the scenes where Harry starts talking like a snake, and the only people in the school on his side are his friends. Things like that are evident all through the movie. Teaching kids important things about life without preaching into their faces. I got both of these DVDs the day they came out, and have watched them both countless times.
So after my 17 month wait, last night at 11:59pm, we finally got to see The Prisoner of Azkaban.
We arrived at the theater around 11:15, expecting it to be pretty crowded but not absurdly so. Well, it was absurdly so. They were doing a midnight screening in the four biggest theaters, and ALL 4 were sold out. They were doing these in 5 or 6 theaters in the Austin area, and this wasn't even close to the nicest theater in the town. That's why I picked it, I thought it might be the least zoo-like of the bunch. I was wrong. Even 45 minutes early, we were sitting on the second row. Not the second row of the main seating area, we were on those two rows they sit apart from all the other rows, cause they absolutely suck and no one wants to sit in them. To see from one side of the screen to the other it wasn't a simple eye movement, but a quite uncomfortable head movement, as we were already having to stare up almost 90 degrees, but also turn our heads 3-4 inches to the left or right.
Once the movie started it really didn't bother me too much, cause I was sitting there with a goofy ass smile on my faces for the entire 2+ hours. No joke. Before seeing it, I had read a bunch of Potter purists in the UK bitching about what they left out, blah blah, the new director, blah blah, and all of them are clueless loons.
First off, what they chose to leave out due entirely to time constraints, were the pieces I would have left out as well. People need to remember, these are ADAPTATIONS of incredible novels. That means that the screenwriter, producer, and director interpret the novel, take out what THEY feel is most important, and try to make the absolute best film for the audience they can. In my opinion, it's a very good thing they can't make direct word for word translations of the novels into the movies. Why? Because that makes the books all the more important, and all the more special. Everyone can see these movies, and get lost in the wonderful world that the films provide. When you go back and read the books, you're in your own version of the world, seeing the things only YOUR imagination sees. The parts that get left out are brought to life in your head, and you get to be creative. You don't have to be told what all the things in the novels look like, sound like or act like. Some things are left for you, making the entire reading experience new, and more importantly personal.
About the director, I thought he did an absolutely amazing job. The entire time I was in awe of how beautiful practically every shot looked. The way he composed the frame was continuously pleasing to the eye and always interesting. I tried to use some examples in these little picture bars, like the one where Snape is standing in front of the kids, Hedwig is flying over Harry's shoulder, and Hermione is threatening Malfoy with her wand. He does things Chris Columbus wouldn't have dared too. Not to say Columbus did a poor job in the slightest, I've liked practically all of his films since Adventures in Babysitting. But Alfonso Cuarón does something very important. He matures the style of the film, makes it more adult and advanced, which goes hand in hand with exactly where our main characters are in life.
I wish these pictures were better quality, cause you can see in one of them how much more grown up everyone is looking. Who amazed me the most were Hermione, Harry and Neville. Emma Watson is the best actor in this entire series, they better do absolutely everything in their power to hold on to her for the duration of the films, there's no way I could see anyone else as Hermione. How tall both she and Harry look in this film are amazing, and Neville is barely recognizable.
I wont spoil anything to do with the story, but one of the only things I could see complained about, although minor, is the climax of the movie. Every first viewing I've had with all three films, the climax seemed .. lacking something somewhat. Not as... spectacular as one might expect. Over time and extra viewings, I've come to accept and somewhat appreciate that fact about the first two films, and I'm sure of the same with PoA. The fact that the confrontation with Sirius Black was somewhat sudden and brief works well in the long run, as the rest of the third act really is tremendous and interesting.
Only other thing is the new Dumbledore. I read somewhere someone asking the question, if you were Voldemort, would you be afraid of the new Dumbledore? Dumbledore is supposed to be the ONLY person, besides Harry, to strike fear into Voldemort. They need to do something in The Goblet of Fire to show what he's capable of, cause compared to Richard Harris, the new Albus looks like somewhat of a clown.
Regardless of Dumbledore, The Prisoner of Azkaban has taken over as my favorite film of 2004, and is as good, as pure, and as wonderful as the other two Harry Potter films to date. I absolutely can't wait until the (hopefully 4 hour) Goblet of Fire comes out.
So yesterday was a pretty great movie day. I told a friend yesterday what I was doing, and he said Potter must feel pretty damn good after spending an entire day watching The Mighty Ducks. I thought about it and said it was like drinking a fine wine after warm beer. Which I think is true. When he questioned why I gave the first 2 Ducks an A-, well, sometimes even a warm beer tastes pretty good. I don't drink beer, but I think it gets the point across. If you have the time, or might have the time, MAKE the time to watch all three Harry Potter movies in a day, and your imagination with cheer you, as will all of Gryffindor.
I apologize for how long this has turned out to be, but as you can tell, Harry Potter has cemented itself at the top of my all time favorites list, and along with The Lord of the Rings, the best series of films in the last 25 years, and probably ever. I know what my kids are gonna watch growing up. Marathons of The Goonies, Ferris Bueller, The Wizard, Flight of the Navigator, Vice Versa, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.
My grade SoS: A+
My grade CoS: A+
My grade PoA: A+