Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)

(In theaters, June 2004) Well, it’s obvious that Chris Columbus is out of the picture for the third instalment of the Harry Potter series: the colour palette is harsher, Hogwarts has abandoned its all-Caucasian student policy and the camera actually moves once in a while. Hurrah for Alfonso Cuarón! But it takes more than pans and swoops to make a good film, and if Harry Potter 3 is a lot more fun to look at, it’s curiously not as steadily compelling as the first two films. The film even become literally repetitive toward the end, capping a curiously tepid dramatic arc. It certainly doesn’t help that the script cut a lot of the original story to fit in a reasonable length: some details didn’t make sense until they were patiently explained to me by other Potterphiles. (The ending is particularly chaotic, pulling thin threads out of nowhere) But let’s not go overboard with criticism: Even when it’s middling, the Harry Potter series has enough good stuff to leapfrog over most of the other movies of the year. Acting-wise, the lead trio does a fine job, and will hopefully be able to follow the series along until the end. Onward to the fourth volume, then.

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