Saturday, 2 August 2014

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Part 1

I hope you’re enjoying reading these film reviews as much as I’m enjoying watching and writing them. I know that they are a bit long-winded, but that’s just because I can’t help but find so much to say about them. I’ve cut this one into five parts and I’ll be posting each one on a Saturday morning for the next month or so.

Part 1 in which Harry accidentally blows up his aunt, runs away from home, meets Siegfried Farnon and spends the night in the Leaky Cauldron before heading to school on the Hogwarts Express and having a close encounter of the Dementor kind.

1. I know lots of people dislike this film, but I have to say, it’s one of my favourites.

2. So we start with a totally black screen and that creepy music again and there’s a teeny tiny flashing light that keeps appearing and disappearing, finally illuminating the Warner Bros logo. Oh look, it’s Harry Potter hiding under his bed covers playing with his wand. Er… you know what I mean.

3. He’s trying to study by making his wand light up but he over does it and we get a big flash. Uncle Vernon keeps coming in to see what’s going on.

4. Then it’s the next morning, or another day and a large blonde woman has arrived at the Dursleys’. It’s Aunt Marge and she’s thoroughly unpleasant. Even Aunt Petunia doesn’t seem to like her too much.

5. At dinner they’re watching The Generation Game with Jim Davidson. I used to love watching that as a child. I always secretly wanted to go on it.

6. Marge is criticising Harry and his parents, something which doesn’t go down too well. First Marge’s glass explodes and then she starts to. The lights flicker and she starts swelling up. Vernon seems to guess what’s happening but Dudley seems pretty oblivious until Marge’s necklace pings across the table into his dinner. Then he gets knocked out by a low flying button.

7. Chaos ensues as Marge, now an oversized helium balloon goes floating out into the garden and up towards the stratosphere. Dudley resumes his TV watching in the conservatory and Harry decides to make a break for it.

8. I like that this film kicks straight into the action. It gets us into the magic world within ten minutes of the film starting which, let’s face it, is what we were all wanting to see.

9. As Harry runs away we can see a glimpse of Marge drifting away in the distance. I’m not sure when it was that I first noticed her, but I think that’s why I like this film so much, there’s a lot more attention to detail in the background.

10. When Harry sits down on the kerb and the swings behind him start moving on their own, that’s basically what I see in my head when the Harry Potter theme plays as the music on the alarm clock to wake us up. There’s nothing creepier than a swing swinging on its own.

11. The first time I saw a photo of the Knight Bus in this film it took me ages to work out what was wrong with it. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Obviously, it’s not a double-decker, it’s a triple-decker.

12. I would love to travel by Knight Bus. Even if it does look like the sort of vehicle that would make me horribly travel sick. I think it’s the fact that it has beds on it.

13. I quite like the way the bus is done in the film but it’s not quite the way I picture it in my head. It zooms along very well, but in the book things jump out of the way as it passes, I prefer the image that conjures up for me rather than everything getting all skinny and weird.

14. Harry is delivered to the Leaky Cauldron, where they seem to have been expecting him. I love that there is a wizard in there reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – expert in Muggle Studies perhaps?

15. Siegfried Farnon, I mean Cornelius Fudge is also waiting for Harry who reassures us that Marge has been returned to her usual, horrible, state. Presumably the fact that she has had her memory wiped means that she hasn’t actually learned anything from this experience and will continue to pick on Harry if she sees him again.

16. Siegfried Fudge is being all jovial and pleased to see Harry. He’s off back to Hogwarts in the morning. That is one thing that I wish hadn’t been cut. I’d have liked to see him having a wee bit of freedom and roaming around Diagon Alley. I love that bit of the book.

17. One of Harry’s school books wants to eat him. It’s kind of cute in a toothy sort of way, though it’s kind of sad the way that it seems to be destroying itself as every time it opens its covers shredded paper flies everywhere. Going to be a tough one to read!

18. I remember the housekeeping bit being in the trailers. Love it!

19. Scabbers rushes by chased by a big fluffy ginger cat. Hermione and Ron are arguing like an old married couple. Getting into the habit early.

20. Ron and family have been to Egypt and Ron’s been flashing his newspaper clipping around all over the place. It’s kind of sweet seeing the Weasley crew in their holiday gear. Also Scabbers has had a makeover for this film.

21. Mr Weasley takes Harry to one side to warn him about the danger he’s in due to Sirius Black’s escape. I love this moment with Mr Weasley being a kind of fatherly influence to Harry. I think he’s an awesome Dad. He’s concerned about Harry going looking for Black, Harry is suitably shocked at the thought he would go after someone who wants to kill him. Weasley’s right to be concerned, Harry does attract trouble.

22. Scabbers’s makeover has made him look a little more like a guinea pig than a rat. Could’ve saved a bit of trouble if Ron had left Scabbers behind but would’ve made the book and film shorter.

23. On the train the trio hop into a carriage with Professor Lupin. I love Professor Lupin but we’ll get to that later, I’m sure.

24. The Hogwarts Express then starts to play around with being the site of a horror movie. It gets dark, the train shudders and everything gets icy cold. It always reminds me of The Sixth Sense.

25. The Dementors are so perfect. They look exactly the way they’re supposed to and they are so, so creepy. They’ve even got the kind of death-rattle breathing right as far as I’m concerned.

26. I suppose they always go for Harry because of the whole Horcrux thing. Perhaps they’re detecting that little seed of evil in him.

27. How clever is it that they have the train whistle merging with a voice calling Harry’s name? It’s so clever. I think everything about this film is just that little bit more cinematic and move involved with the world.

28. Chocolate is blatantly the solution to all of life’s problems. Professor Lupin obviously knows what he is talking about.

And that seems like a good place to stop for the time being. Next week the school year gets properly underway, Sirius Black is dangerous (as is Care of Magical Creatures) and Harry isn’t allowed to go to Hogsmede. Poor Harry.


  1. I'm loving these reviews, the only problem is they're making me want to both re-watch the movies and re-read the books. Then again, that's not necessarily a bad thing :)
    This is one of my favourite films from the series, too. I love the part where you see and hear Aunt Marge in the background, it's one of those things that you don't notice right away.

    1. I'm glad you're enjoying them. They're fun to do because it makes me watch the films in a different way to normal and think about them differently too.

      I know what you mean about wanting to rewatch and reread them. At the moment I'm rereading Order of the Phoenix and as that's the book where Hermione spends half her time knitting elf hats and socks, I've been inspired to knit socks too (and I don't have the book on my Kindle so it's awkward trying to read and knit at the same time)!

  2. I really liked all of the movies.

    1. Me too, this is one of my favourites but I find something special in every one of the films.


Let me know what you think. :-)