Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Cultural Diversion: Harry Potter 

Normally I try to do these non-sports reviews on Tuesday, but sometimes I just can't get around to it. So it's a Wednesday thing today.

Naturally, the review is for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the requisite blogger-geek movie of the month. My wife and I saw the movie this weekend. We are both fans of the series of books, though of course it's been a few years since we've actually read the book, so we've forgotten a lot of the backstory. If the first two movies spent too much time introducing Harry Potter's world and all the whiz-bang special effects, this chapter if anything veers to the other end of the spectrum, dialling back the backstory and character development and not relying so much on the "look at this effect!" tendency. Characters that don't move the plot forward get little screen time, which is to be expected in condensing any of the rapidly-thickening novels, but it's a little disappointing to see Emma Thompson, excellent as the spacey Professor Trelawney, get so little screen time. (She's not the only one.) Indeed, the acting is top-notch, including the kids -- whatever Chris Columbus' legacy as a director is, it's clear that his choices for Harry, Hermione, and Ron were good ones that won't make us wince in the 4 movies to come. For those of you who like Quidditch, however, the movie will disappoint you tremendously, as there can't have been more than maybe 3-4 minutes' worth of a match. For my wife, this was a good thing. For me, who agrees that the Quidditch was overdone a bit in the first two movies, I would've liked a little more of the match, which was held in an Any Given Sunday-like downpour. Clearly Quidditch follows the NFL and not MLB in its approach approach to rain delays.

Come to think of it, Oliver Stone might not be a bad choice for the conspiracy-laden Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, scheduled to be released in 2007 and currently without a director attached.

But in any case, it's an entertaining movie and recommended, even if you're not a Harry Potter fan.

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