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I told you so!
SPOILER FILLED REVIEW! 
12th-Jun-2004 12:28 am
Owl totem

As a lot of you may know by now, I really like going to the cinema by myself.  This is probably a somewhat natural response, considering I usually have to police four children through the process.  But I also like the fact that when you are alone, you have the freedom to react however you choose, without running the risk of embarrassing yourself or whomever you are with. 

 

I was all keen to go to the first session of Prisoner of Azkaban here yesterday; was really looking forward to it.  Kids would be at school – no complications – perfect.  But, of course, there were complications, requiring the running around of children, which left me unable to get to the show until the 6:30pm session, by which time I had to take the kids as well.

 

Now, my kids are very well trained movie-goers for the most part; they all sat through each of the LOTR films without needing a toilet break, and have a very good record for this.  Nevertheless, I was a tad anxious that one or more of them might spoil the experience for me.

 

Guess I knew something.  *sigh*

 

Suffice to say, right at the climax my daughter insisted on going to the loo.  She is nearly 10, so I relented and let her go by herself, and spent the next 5minutes (until she got back) almost panic-stricken and didn’t take in any of the film.  I walked out of the film upset and furious and swearing I would never take any of them to a film I wanted to see again. (On the first viewing anyway.) 

 

 

Well, I’m just back from my second viewing and am planning to take myself to see it again next week.  I really, really liked it!  It is definitely my favourite of the three.

 

My feelings on the film-

Harry playing with his wand under the covers.  Ok, I got the double entendre and cracked a smile.  Nevertheless, I was squicked at him using magic outside of school.  Doubly so when both Harry and Vernon mention the ban 5minutes later.  I can understand it, from a film-makers POV though – they have to introduce Harry as the magical one and there’s nothing magical about someone under the covers with a torch.

 

Aunt Marge was PERFECT.  Dead-set PERFECT.  Once again I am in awe of the casting for these films.

 

I’m sorry they didn’t keep the mention of Sirius on the Muggle news.  I think that crossover of the magical world into the Muggle world is important.  But I’m not sure how they could have fitted it in.  It could easily have been on the TV (there were enough of them around! Which was spot-on.) Perhaps it could have been used as the lead in to Aunt Marge’s discussion about ‘St Brutus’s’ and the need for corporal punishment.

 

Harry’s continued glaring at Aunt Marge as she was ‘blowing up’ suggested to me that what he was doing was deliberate rather than wandless, uncontrolled magic.  I also found his pausing in his room to kick the chest of drawers and gaze at his parents’ photo… contrived?  It didn’t feel natural. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it; I adore little insights like that, but I felt it interfered with the flow of the movie. I think by the time he was running upstairs, Harry had decided to leave, so to have him sit and ponder leaving just seemed awkward.  I think it could have cut straight to him coming back down, dragging his trunk without losing anything.

 

I adored Harry’s little smirks; in fact his whole attitude change. Dare I call it arrogance? You could see his distinct awareness of his own power – he knows he’s more powerful than the Dursleys, and they know it too. 

 

Harry running off into the street with Aunt Marge floating away in the background – wonderful! 

 

The Playground!!  That was SO a foreshadowing of OotP!  Had me wriggling in my seat with fangirlish GLEE.

 

Padfoot in the shrubs… would have been good except Padfoot would NOT have growled like that at Harry!

 

The Knight Bus – once more, perfect.  Particularly Stan Shunpike.

 

Leaky Cauldron.  Hmmm.  Much as I found the new Tom amusing, I prefer the one from the first film.  They could have kept ‘Igor-Tom’ but just used him as one of the staff there.  He didn’t have to be Tom.

Fudge… not much to say on him.  He was fine.  He seems to have had a haircut since the last film – I’m sure he had a small pony tail in that?

 

I loved the bit with Harry looking out from his room at the Muggle world!  It’s little moments like that which ground the film for me and give the characters depth.  You can’t help wondering what he is thinking.

 

The bit in the bedroom with the Monster Book of Monsters- delightful.  My eldest son just about leapt out of his seat every time it barked/bit.

 

Harry meeting Ron and Hermione… rushed, and the Weasleys…  All rushed, but enjoyable nonetheless.  I want a copy of that Weasleys’ in Egypt pic!  I liked Mr Weasley in this.  I loved him in the last film too, but he seemed more like the Mr Weasley from the books this time.

 

I loved seeing the kids walking through the Hogwarts Express to their compartment and the bit when the train stops and all the heads pop out.  It really feels like a train!  I do wish Ginny and Neville had been with them though.  And I guess it’s because the kids are getting bigger, but everything seemed so much smaller this time round!  The train compartments, the Great Hall, even their beds!  Their four-poster beds looked relatively spacious in the last two films, but this time they looked like they were close to out-growing them!

The Dementor –  nicely creepy.  Loved the fabric-in-water effect and everything icing-up to show how cold they make the characters feel.  I also liked Lily’s scream seguing into the train whistle.

 

Dumbledore’s welcome speech-  Well, I loved the Toad Choir from the first Trailer we got way back when, so I liked that.  I was irked that Dumbledore introduced Lupin as Professor RJ Lupin.  That sounded absurd.  Professor Lupin or Professor Remus Lupin would have been more natural.

 

Draco.  Can I just say that I seriously adored Draco in this film.  Here was the whining, upper-class twat we know from the books!  His accent and his constant shit-stirring was perfect! And I loved that he started the shit-stirring during Dumbledore’s speech! (I did find it odd that suddenly the Gryffindor and Slytherin tables were side-by-side, but I can forgive that for the wicked joy of having Malfoy and Potter back to back.)

I was especially thrilled to see Pansy Parkinson too.

 

The galloping ghosts were ok once, but tiresome the second time around.  I thought we needed to see some familiar ghosts for continuity.

 

First night in the boys’ dorm- Another delightful scene, but it was too short!  Those were obviously sweets that Ron had brought back from Egypt; they were all African animals!  (Except Harry.  I’m not sure what he was?) I wanted to see what Dean was too! And forgive me, but Ron looked downright sexy doing that lion-roar!  *feels guilty*  And for those who thought Ron was gypped character-wise in this film – at least he wasn’t the monkey!  They played him sexy/dangerous in this bit rather than funny.

 

What was next?  Trelawney’s class?  Rupert was exquisite.  Trelawney was good.  I imagined her a little more sparkly and colourful, but this was good.  Like they toned down Lockhart’s dress sense in the last film, if they’d made her too colourful she’d have stood out too much against the rest of the film

.

Hermione going on about Trelawney on the way down to Hagrid’s.  Her mocking titter – gorgeous and very typical 13yo girl.

I think that is really what I loved most about this film: the age-appropriateness of it.  They all seemed like 13yr olds.

 

COMC- perfection.  Buckbeak was wonderful.  Yes, for all my protesting about his front legs being wrong, I am very happily eating crow!  His body moved like a horse and his head and wings had the darting quality of a bird!  And he had so much personality!  Much more than I’d ever got from the books.  I could understand them all getting fond of him and upset at him imminent execution.  Specially when he was napping in the pumpkin patch.  This was the creature I could see Sirius being delighted at housing on his mother’s bed! 

I loved the class. Poor Neville getting attacked by his book and then you see his clothes are all tattered!  I loved Draco and Potter facing off, Draco pretending there was a Dementor, then the Slytherins all doing that ‘spooky’ thing.  That was totally squee-worthy for me.

Harry’s flight on Buckbeak was wonderful, although the music is slightly different (shorter) than the track I’ve been listening to for the last couple of weeks, which makes me think it was cut.  *sobs* 

Draco getting attacked – squeeeeee!  Sorry, but his dialogue in that scene is one of my favourite bits in the book, and to hear him say it…!

 

Ron (and Hermione’s) disdain of Draco ‘milking’ his wound to Pansy and suggesting it might have had to be ‘chopped off’, to only then turn around and do exactly the same about his leg at the end… yeah, I thought it was cute!  And funny.

 

DADA.  Thewlis as Lupin – he’s not what I pictured but I liked him nonetheless. I loved the music!  Still don’t like the moustache though.

Matt Lewis performed brilliantly in this scene.  He had Neville perfect.  And of course, Snape in a dress; Alan Rickman is perfection in this role.  When I read Snape in the books, I hear Rickman every time. 

Ron and his spider was great.  I loved seeing Parvati; she was pretty much as I’d imagined her.

I thought it was fun seeing the kids line up but it made the class a little ludicrous when hardly any of them got a go.

 

First Hogsmeade visit – Harry’s anger at not being allowed to go – perfect.  Harry and Lupin on the bridge… Well, I think I’m convinced that Lupin was in love with Lily now.  Wow.

 

Flight of the Fat Lady – Dawn French – love love love.  Though I hated having the entrance to the Gryffindor tower off the main staircase.  That was just dumb.  I did see Sir Cadogan though! 

Ron suggesting that maybe Neville had forgotten the password again, Neville’s outraged “hey!” from behind, and Ron’s embarrassed but amused “oh, you’re there!”  Wonderfully natural!

I also would have liked to see more interaction between the students when they were all sleeping together in the Great Hall.  Just to accentuate how unusual it was.  And Percy suggesting using the Dementors to help look and Dumbledore swearing that no Dementor would cross the threshold while he was headmaster – to emphasise how dangerous he thought they were.

 

Snape DADA.  Delicious.  Just not enough.  Adored Draco’s note.  Probably the only thing that squicked me was Ron agreeing with Snape as opposed to defending Hermione.  Yet, both times I’ve seen it, Ron’s comment about Snape having a point has got a laugh from the audience.  *sigh*  I guess it was the right call from a filmic POV.  And, while we all know that Ron thinks Hermione is a ‘know it all’, but only he is allowed to call her that, audiences who have only seen the films probably don’t.

 

Quidditch in the rain- superb.  Was Cedric electrocuted via the snitch?  There is an argument in our house over this.  My son says the lightning hit the snitch and travelled to Cedric when he touched the snitch.  I thought the lightning had hit his broom… And of course he didn’t catch the snitch at that point.

I did not like the Grim in the clouds.  Padfoot was in the stands watching!  Harry saw him briefly silhouetted against the clouds.  The fact that he was a real threat rather that a fanciful cloud formation made him much scarier in my mind.

 

Harry’s fall was great and I thought the film was very faithful in that it was distinctly Harry’s POV.  When he blacked out, that was all we saw.  I was sorry that we didn’t hear more of what Harry heard each time though – his parents last moments with Voldemort.  Although that may well have pushed the rating into the M15+ category.  *sigh*

Having him wake up and stress about losing the game – very true to form!

 

Fred and George giving Harry the Map… *blissful sigh*  Oh, how I wish we could see more of them in these films! 

Snowy Hogsmeade.  Ron and Hermione at the Shrieking Shack.  Dear sweet Ron looked genuinely hurt by Draco’s taunt about his family living in one room.  (Rupert is awesome!)  Where was Goyle though?  This ‘other’ Slytherin bothered me a little.  I want to know who he was.

Speaking of unknown additions, who was the overweight black kid in Gryffindor robes who had more lines than regulars??!  The one who told them all about the Grim in Trelawney’s class.

 

I liked Hermione’s comment about Ron fancying Mme Rosemerta and I quite liked the reveal in the Pub that only Harry sees from under the invisibility cloak (which seemed to have lost its glorious Celtic patterns since the last film! *sobs*), although I’m still undecided about the Harry crying bit.  Not that I don’t think he would; he definitely has done in the books, several times.  I just thought that here…maybe it was that the sobbing was a wee bit contrived?

I really loved the way Ron hung back though (and tried to stop Hermione).  He knew Harry was crying and would not want anyone to see him like that!

It would have been nice to have Harry look at his photo album like he does in the book – and see Sirius with his parents.

 

Lupin teaching Harry the Patronus.  Quite liked this scene although I don’t really like the ‘shield-style Patronus. 

 

Harry sitting up in bed studying the Map (while munching) – loved it, and I loved his reaction to Ron’s nightmare. “You tell those spiders, Ron.”  Daniel’s delivery was so incredibly natural as was Rupert’s acting.  Unbelievable how good these kids are!

Little things like Harry slipping into his trainers instead of slippers when he goes to investigate Peter Pettigrew… wonderful.  And I didn’t mind him seeing Peter on the Map.  Snape and Lupin in the corridor – very squee-worthy I’m afraid.  “out for a little walk in the moonlight?”  Although this was a reworking of my favourite scene which was unfortunately sacrificed – “What was your head doing in Hogsmeade, Potter?  You head’s not allowed in Hogsmeade…”

Have I mentioned how much I loved the Map?

 

Ron snoring in Divination – delightful.  Hermione storming out – hard to feel anything about that really.  There wasn’t enough of a build-up to it.  I did like Ron refusing to go back up to the classroom when Harry wanted to take the crystal ball back, and I really liked Trelawney’s reversion from ‘trance/prophetic’ mode back to normal; like she was about to hawk up a fur-ball.

 

Draco and co waiting to watch Buckbeak’s execution – “Father says he’ll mount the head for me.  I think I’ll donate it to the Gryffindor common room!”  These understated/throwaway lines are priceless!  Like Harry’s “Poor Professor Lupin; he’s having a really bad night” after Buckbeak swats him.

Hermione punching Malfoy… I’m still a bit uncomfortable with this.  I did like it when she lowered her wand… and got the distinct impression from Draco’s expression that she had simply shifted her aim from his face to his crotch.  Which I thought was pretty funny and very subtly done.

 

The Whomping Willow.  The new incarnation of this tree… WONDERFUL!  It really bothered me in the last film because it didn’t even look like a Willow!  When Harry and Ron crashed the car into it, Summer had just finished; it should have been in full leaf – long waving branches.  Instead it was this shorn, club-like thing.  Very disappointing.

This new Willow is what it should have been!  It’s moody, it has personality.  I loved it.  I loved that it was used to show the passing of seasons.  Though I was sad that we never learned that Lupin was the reason it was planted.

 

The Shrieking Shack… I liked this better the second time.  The dialogue is fast and furious.  Interestingly, Hermione getting Ron’s line here didn’t bother me.  It would have been ridiculous for Ron to struggle to his feet to say something that needed to be immediate.  It would have looked slow and contrived. 

I thought Gary Oldman did a great job as Sirius.   

 

The werewolf…not as bad as I thought it would be, but I really didn’t like the design.  I would have liked something more wolf-like myself.

 

Harry and Sirius by the lake – the lake freezing over – wonderful wonderful!!!!  The stag Patronus was disappointing though.  It was supposed to run around.  And, knowing they could have done that but chose not to…   I’m at a loss to know why.  Maybe because the Dementors were in the air?  Maybe they thought the Patronus would be landlocked, but I always imagined them as going in any direction.  Like a ghost.

 

Harry and Hermione going back in time.  This worked surprisingly well.  I thought it would be much more confusing.  Loved Harry’s “nice punch!” and was able to hear Malfoy’s comments as he fled this time – “Don’t you tell anyone about this!” and Crabbe and the other one assuring him they wouldn’t, then I think he mentions his father and says “make that Mudblood sorry”.  Can’t remember the exact wording right now.  I do remember wondering if it was supposed to be portentous though.

 

The dead ferrets… so excellent!  Loved the way Buckbeak kept trying to steal them off Hermione.  And Buckbeak catching bats!  So cool!

 

Rescuing Sirius from the tower – I really think Sirius should have flown from there.  Pausing in the courtyard seemed way too risky to me.

 

The Firebolt at the end.  I was really surprised, but this worked.  Ron trying to blame the twins for making him open it, the feather so we knew who it was from.  It was tight, fast, and bang it was all over!

Then we had those WONDERFUL credits.  Which hardly anyone stayed for!  What is wrong with people that they don’t stay for credits??  I just don’t get it.  You pay to see the film, why not stay for the whole thing?  Even if it’s just to listen to the music, I like to stay.

 

I’m so sad there was no Pigwidgeon in the film, but it would have been impossible for Harry to get a letter from Sirius in front of a crowd.  So, no way for Sirius to apologise to Ron for the loss of his pet.  Maybe they’ll put it at the start of the next film?  We can always hope.

And hope that Alphonse comes back to do Order of the Phoenix!  He obviously likes angry!Harry, so he’d be in his element with that one.

 

Dan Radcliffe’s acting through the entire film was brilliant.  Totally brilliant.  Rupert is so natural…  Emma was very good too, I thought; all the kids were, but Dan and Rupert really stood out.

 

I can’t wait to see this film again!

 

 

 

 

Comments 
11th-Jun-2004 02:14 pm (UTC)
Leela, can I just tell you? I almost totally agree with all your reactions (Except my inappropriate fetish is aimed at Harry--he reminds me of a mini john lennon! Gaaah, adorable!!). Anyways, I really, really, enjoyed this movie, too. In fact, I went and saw it a second time last night with a couple of friends. But they left the theater with distinctly different impressions than mine. They *hated* it. It wasn't that they didn't like it, but they *hated* it. I mean, they were unforgiving about it, and I didn't understand their harsh reactions at all. Was it as good as the book? No, but hardly anything ever is. But I thought the kids were great, the effects were great...and I dunno, I just really, really enjoyed it. (Their insult to injury remark: "Oh, but this is coming from the girl who liked "Moulin Rouge!" Gaaah, fuck off! Moulin Rouge kicks ass and takes names! *I meander off into LOTR bashing to level playing field*....it was a strangely uncomfortable post-movie experience, now that I think about it. And sort of reminds me why I don't usually see films with them, but I digress....)

I loved Hermione in this. I thought she was sooo funny. "Is that really how my hair looks from the back?" And her and Ron were cute. I LOVED Buckwheat. He seemed sooooo *real* to me, like you could reach out and touch him. Like he could really exist. And that scene in the dorm room and animal noises was priceless. It's nice to see them just hanging out like kids.

I wish they explained how the wizards turned into animals or something, because that left my step mother confused (she never read the book). And they didn't explain that Harry's dad and friends made the map, and Sirius never signed that permission slip...of course, they can't include everything, so I forgive this. The exclusion that upset me the most was: No Oliver Wood! He was at his most hilarious in this book! And he was also unappropriately adorable to me. Oh, well, sigh.

Anyways, great film. I think my friends need to stop gulping the bong water.
12th-Jun-2004 05:54 am (UTC)
Hey Yanks! Glad to hear you liked it too! And Moulin Rouge - I LOVE Moulin Rouge! How dare they?!
11th-Jun-2004 06:15 pm (UTC)
I concur. You've read my review, eh?

*plots to see it again and again*
11th-Jun-2004 07:08 pm (UTC)
Yes, I have! And I agree with you wholeheartedly. Haven't had a chance to respond yet cos I spent all evening writing my own damn review. :~P And here it is, lunchtime Sat and I'm STILL in my pyjamas! *guiltily laments lazyness of self*
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