Thursday, December 02, 2004

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

My friend Jo turned me onto the Harry Potter books right as the phenomenon was at its very beginning. I will always be thankful to her for that, amongst many others which aren't relevant to this blog posting.

We went to that first Chris Columbus movie together, and found it terribly disappointing. The casting and much of the visuals were great. Unfortunately, the story itself felt weighted down and lost a lot of the wonder and intrigue that made the book so absolutely wonderful.

I didn't get around to watching the second one until much later. I was just as disappointed and had even had lowered expectations.

So, despite knowing that Alfonso Cuarón was the director of A Little Princess and Y Tu Mamá También, I couldn't bring myself to be excited again.

Well, I was wrong. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, which adapts my favorite of the books, is completely all that.

The most important quality that it captures is the feeling of threat of intrigue around every corner. The need to know what will happen next. But it also captures the characters and the complexities almost without effort, where Columbus clearly labored over his interpretations, and develops a sense of wonder and, well, magic all around.

This is what the books felt like to read. Well, ok, they're books, they feel richer, fuller and just altogether better developed. That's what books are for. But the feel. The sense of danger and mystery.

There's a user comment somewhere that this one left out the humor, which is also wrong. It includes a lot of the humor. The difference between this and the previous films is that it cut the same amount of humor proportional to the character development and mystery, so the proportions felt the same.

I can't stop expressing my pleasure. Excellent stuff.

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