16 November 2016

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban- What the fuck is it about? (Spoilers)

So Harry begins his third year of magic school and finds out that a serial killer has broken out of prison and wants him dead. Not exactly a relatable issue for most of us and so the film cleverly throws in a grim little subtext for all the teenagers in the audience. Like most kids of Harry's age, the boy wizard is finding himself a little hounded by the black dog. However in his case it's not simply a metaphorical term for the depression he feels as it dawns on him that the world is a shithole. Rather, his black dog is quite literally a big black dog that seems to want him dead. Oh, and in an attempt to protect Harry from this escaped killer, Dumbledore has opened the school to a bunch of grim-reaper like pricks known as Dementors. The Dementors however also seem pretty happy to kill Harry too if he happens to get in their way. So.. basically, Harry has to go through another year of school in which most of the things at that school want him dead. But oh fuck... he better get a parental signature on his Hogsmeade form or he won't be allowed to visit the quaint little village to have fun with his friends.

This is also the film in which we're introduced to Professor Lupin as the new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher. He attempts to educate the students in the ways of the boggart without really realising how this could go wrong. A boggart will take the form of your biggest fear and the only way to destroy it is to turn it into something funny. He teaches that to kids. I mean, it could turn into anything with any one of them. How stupid is he? Really?! If I was in his class then I think my boggart would turn into the embodiment of my ever-present existential anxiety and the only way to defeat it would be by turning into an Octopus with a tit for a head and eight massive dicks for tentacles. Good luck with that class, dickhead! Oh, and as was the case with the last couple of movies, Harry gains another magical item to help him through his year. In the first movie it was an invisibility cloak, in the second it was polyjuice potion, and in this it's a map that shows where everybody in the school is hiding. Essentially, Harry has spent his first three years collecting the kind of magic that would turn him into a pretty unstoppable rapist.

So was it shit or not then? (Still Spoilers)

I think what sets this film apart from the Chris Columbus instalments before it is that Alfonso Cuaron's directorial style isn't as lifeless as a severely fucked chunk of rotten roadkill. This movie has a more gritty and realistic feel to it which ironically makes the magical elements feel all the more magical. In the case of this film, we're presented with a world that I recognise and feel I can relate to, and so strange things happening in it seem both believable and yet exciting. In Columbus's first two, we had bullshit movie-things happening in a bullshit movie world which is just bullshit. Which isn't to say that Cuaron's film is more like a kitchen sink drama than a Hollywood movie. When the magical stuff begins to happen, he plays it all off with a tone and style that's has much more in common with a gothic horror. I mean, just compare that to Columbus's two which really did feel more like The Goonies had been given the Dementor's Kiss and a particularly rough prostate exam at the same time, and to the point that they were completely dead inside.

In fact, in the way that the movie feels different; some of the locations have been modified; a few characters have been remodelled; and in one case, recast. I think an argument could be made that this third film is essentially what we'd now call a 'soft reboot'. This one even deviates a little from the structural formula of its predecessors by having a third act that's a little closer to something like Kurosawa's Rashomon or for those who don't suffer from pretentiousness, Back To The Future 2. When Hermione reveals she's been given a magical device that will allow her to time travel, the film really comes into its own. Even if this does ultimately lead to some slightly tricky questions... the obvious one being, how come Dumbledore would let Hermione turn back time in order to get to a couple of extra classes but nobody thought to use it to save Harry's dead parents. Or kill Voldemort before he could turn evil, even? You could spend years fighting an evil powerful wizard.. or you could just pop back to when he was a tiny little baby, pop it in a sack, chuck him down a well, and bish, bash, bosh, we're even home in time for supper.

If I have any other criticism of this film then I suppose there's definitely a couple of cringy moments in terms of Radcliffe's performance. At one point he finds out that Sirius Black was both his parents' best friend and ultimately the reason they died. However it seems that little Radcliffe wasn't yet able to cry on command and so settled for the next best thing of just making the noises instead. I mean, I saw him fly a broom at one point.. if they can make that happen you'd think they'd manage to CG a couple of fucking tears on him, wouldn't you. Oh, and when he shouts “he was their friend”, I'd guess that he should sound upset and devastated whereas he kind of does it with a tone similar to when you call someone a prick from across a car park. Where he stumbles however, it's worth noting that Michael Gambon has joined the cast to help balance the quality of acting out. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that not only is the introduction to his character one of the highlights of the series overall but it's possibly one of my favourite from Gambon's illustrious cinematic career. As introductions to a Gambon character go, it's probably second only to The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover in which we see this film's warm-hearted Dumbledore take a piss on some guys naked body before smearing dog shit in his face. Anyway, thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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