Girls*Heart* Books: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Group Book to Movie Review

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Group Book to Movie Review

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. And the Azkban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts...he's at Hogwarts."

Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.
(from Amazon.com)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the series by J.K. Rowling. It's also my very favorite book in the series.  We meet even more new characters and watch as Harry struggles with new information about his parents lives and ultimately their deaths. In this installment Rowling introduces us to the dementors of Azkaban and I have to say, they are the stuff of nightmares.  Honestly, the dementors scared me more than the thought of Voldemort. This is also where learn about Animagi, wizards who can transform into animals. Rowling really outdoes herself in the plotting of this novel. She ratchets up the suspense and intrigue and tiptoes over the line from children's book to something just a tad bit darker and more mature. I loved every second of it. 

Harry's determination to fight the dementors effect on him brings us some of the most heart-wrenching moments in the series yet. I know I teared up quite a bit while reading this book. Also, we meet two of my very favorite characters ever in this book. I am talking of course, about Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Professor Lupin is a wonderfully complex addition to the Hogwarts staff. And Sirius Black, where do I begin? His character has so many layers and different facets, (not that we get to see them ALL in this book, sorry) and he's just disarmingly vulnerable in his slightly crazed ways in this book.

The growth of Harry, Ron and Hermione and even some of the professors is fantastic to witness. Professor Snape reaches new levels of nastiness because of Harry's new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who actually seems to know his subject!  Tension is high between Ron and Hermione because her new pet seems to have it out for Scabbers. With the telling of Sirius Black's story we learn about how things were when Voldemort was at the height of his power. It's chilling, to say the least. Things are definitely getting more interesting at Hogwarts.

This book really cemented the series in my favorites of all time. It's not rushed or drawn out, the mysteries unfold with perfect pacing. The action, suspense and intrigue combined with Rowling's wit and humor made this book absolutely perfect, in my opinion. I loved that I had NO idea where she was going with the series in general or this book individually; I was just along for the amazing ride.
My Rating:

And now we move onto the movie. Sadly, this is where the movie adaptations start to go downhill in my opinion. I made myself watch this movie again, just so I could be sure I still despised it. I'm sorry to say, I still do. There isn't a whole lot screenwriter Steve Kloves and director Alfonso Cuaron got right here, in my opinion. I have 4 pages of notes, front and back on the things the omitted, changed or just fouled up. I promise not to go into lots of detail or rant for that long. But there are a few things I need to say. 

First of all, if Harry got a letter from the Ministry of Magic for Dobby using a hover charm in his house the previous year, WHY would he be magically lighting his wand to do his homework in bed? This irks me. It's the little details that don't mesh with the canon that get under my skin and make me want to boycott Hollywood.  And unfortunately this is just the first in a LONG line of snafus. 

The Weasleys are so important to Harry in the books, I hate how they make them almost trivial in the movies at times. The twins shine in all  seven books and they get cheesy synchronized jokes in the movies. None of their true comic brilliance shows. Frankly, it disgusts me. Ginny is another who has been cut out of important scenes in the movie. Important events are forgotten completely, like Harry's birthday, when he receives cards for the first time and Christmas when he receives a mysterious gift that causes the trio to separate by gender  for a time. All completely swept under the rug. The stress of preparing for exam time is totally forgotten.  
Let's talk about the new cast members. The brilliant Gary Oldman is Sirius Black; he is perfection in the role. Emma Thompson brings the batty Professor Trelawney to life beautifully. And then we have Professor Remus Lupin. David Thewlis is a wonderful actor, don't get me wrong. He is NOT, however the actor to play Lupin, to me. He's too old and honestly, he creeps me out. 

The thing that bothers me the most about this movie, though, is the way they pick and choose where to use Harry's invisibility cloak. They botched this completely. Harry's cloak is an important weapon in his arsenal.  Why would he NOT use it? Also, where is Gryffindor's glorious Quidditch triumph? There's no Oliver Wood, no Cedric Diggory and no hilarious Lee Jordan commentary. 

There is so much more wrong with this movie. I won't bore you with all of my observations though as they are sure to get repetitive. Suffice to say that I was not in any way, shape or form impressed by this movie. They destroyed one of my favorite books of all time. 
My Rating:
This is more than generous in my opinion, I only did two because there are some films later that will make this one look brilliant. 

I shall be honest with you, readers. I have been unimpressed and bored-to-tears with Harry Potter books 1 and 2. I don’t know if it’s because I remembered those movies, or because I simply thought they BOTH read like children’s books, but I didn’t like either of them. Didn’t hate them, either, but I wasn’t thrown off my rocker in excitement. And I like to get thrown off my rocker.

So, to say my expectations for The Prisoner of Azkaban were low would be an understatement. I actually was considering bowing out of the book portion of the reviews and just saying my opinion on the movies because I couldn’t stand continue with all the blandness when I have a to-read list longer than a centipede..

But! Hot damn, I’m glad I didn’t! The third book, in my opinion, knocked the other two out of the way and rocked so hard I simply couldn’t walk away. And sitting at work with my nose in a book and going, “Lemme finish this chapter!” when people wanted to check out…Well, let’s just say I got some weird looks…

I digress. The Prisoner of Azkaban is a non-stop thrill-ride from cover to cover and has the best lines ever! I actually saw some chemistry with Harry and Ginny (which I thought was the dumbest coupling ever just watching the movies…like, really?), was reminded even further why I love the Weasleys, (especially the twins, oh my gosh), and saw again, hey, Neville has a purpose! I loved Hagrid and Dumbledore in this book and for once, was not thrown off by the Dark Arts teacher (anyone else noticing a pattern, there?)

For the first time since starting this series I actually WANT to pick up book 4 and get right into it! Wasn’t bored for a single moment and I’m really glad I didn’t give up on this!
My Rating:

…Now, ah. For the past two movie reviews I’ve been asking what the bloody hell is wrong with you movie-haters, because they were so close to the books, and I’ve never seen anything so good, yes? And me, being me, assumed this would be the same case—Love the movies, dislike the books…


Honestly, what the ever-loving—?! This was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen! Just in the first fifteen minutes they knocked out nearly 80 pages of USABLE and GOOD material, with hilarious commentary and awesomeness! Now, I understand that you can’t just sit and watch Harry doing nothing and have a voice-over tell you what he’s thinking (yes, I dislike that in movies) but REALLY? I don’t want to give away any spoilers but…but… God.

Here, I will give hinty-spoilers. WHERE THE HECK DID THE WEASLEYS GO?! They had a major portion of the first few chapters and had a big ole bite of the suspense and what did we get? Mrs. Weasley fussing over Harry per usual, Mr. Weasley doing something that NEVER HAPPENED in the book and the twins causing trouble? What? Where was Percy? And Ginny? No wonder I didn’t like Harry/Ginny—THEY HAVE NO DEVELOPMENT!

Another thing—why didn’t we just change Ron’s name to Sniveling Moron, why don’t we? I can’t be this air-headed—I don’t remember Ron whimpering and whining and being a total bother the entire book. Sure, he was still Ron Weaselby but….ugh.

And here’s the weekly Where’s-Draco? complaint.. Seriously? He is in the book so much MORE and he isn’t so cry-cry either. Who wrote the script? Who directed this? The entire crew should be fired, less the cast. God.

I’m doing a lot of yelling in this review, aren’t I? I’m sorry. I’ll try to keep it down…No promises. I’m mad.

Whoever directed this movie should be banned from Hollywood productions. This isn’t some cheap, Tim Burton rip-off we’re doing here, where all you do is add creep music and lighting to make things spooky, it’s HARRY FRIGGIN’ POTTER, dammit! World-wide sensation and you, Director, made it tacky. Congratulations… AVADA KEDAVRA! You see? You’ve made me a Voldemortella. Very nice.

It’s kind of obvious I’m not impressed with this movie, at all. As a book-to-movie, and just as a movie. Just…no.
My Rating:
And that's being generous cuz I've seen worse movies!

“Vernon Dursley speaking” Lord give me strength, I want to strangle the life out of this man, bring him back with one of Harry’s spells, then strangle him again! That being said, Kudos to Rowling for giving us someone (aside from You-Know-Who) to HATE! This is one of my favorite books of the series, our introduction to Remus Lupin and Sirius Black.

In a way, the writing grows with each book just as Harry does, yet another reason I love this series! The storylines have grown as well, especially with this book; death and revenge, the feeling of being completely powerless. The plot is more mature and involved this time around, compared to the first two books. In Harry’s third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he has no idea what’s in store for him and his friends.

There is always an adventure at Hogwarts just waiting for Harry and company to arrive, and this year is no exception. Enter Sirius Black, the feared prisoner of Azkaban. He has escaped and it would seem he is heading straight toward Hogwarts, or better yet, straight for Harry. Security is tight and Harry has cabin fever; he also has his cloak of invisibility which enables him to attend the field trip to Hogsmeade; permission slip be damned! The strange and questionable are not so far out of the ordinary with these books; but I immediately noticed Hermoine’s ability to be in several places at once. ‘Hermione’s Secret’ is my favorite chapter in this book.. “Now, pay attention… If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight.” So much happens in this third installment of a beloved and well written series that I can’t even begin to name it all. It would be hard not to break our No Spoilers rules as well!

I will leave you with this; the story I took away from this book in particular is the easy way out is not necessarily the out to take. Loyalty, trust, friendship and love encompassed with an innate sense of right and wrong are what you should hold on to. Harry Potter is like a fine wine, he simply gets better with age.

My Rating:

And now on to the movie…. 

The first Harry Potter movie I took my youngest son to see, he was 7 at the time. He spent a good portion of the movie with his head buried in my lap! I LOVED the tagline for the movie poster “Something Wicked This Way Comes!” Harry is having a difficult time at home with his family (I use that term with vile disgust) as usual and longs to be back at Hogwarts, his true home. These movies have a knack for grabbing your attention from the start and not releasing you until they roll the credits! We start with Aunt Marge, it seems to have been ingrained into the Dursleys at birth, the ability to be utterly loathed by anyone you come in contact with! Let’s just say I think she got what she deserved in the end.

The Knight Bus; I can’t imagine it moving from the pages to the screen any better, I truly loved the way it played out. True to form though, the movie leaves out some good stuff from the books. Percy Weasley, for example; his appearance in the movies is almost a cameo, he was much more present in the books.

Harry finally makes his way back to Hogwarts but it is not the happy homecoming he was expecting. The school is placed on lockdown with the addition of the dementors; loved the movies take on them as well, I think it was spot on. This movie included a lot more from the books than it’s predecessors in my opinion, thank goodness! Thrust back into Harry’s magical world we are introduced not only to the Dementors but Black and Remus as well. I especially liked the classroom scene with Remus and the closet where Harry conjures a Dementor on accident. Oh and the way Remus helps him perfect his Patronus Charm; was that not a brilliant stag rendition?!

The director was able to move the darkness and the uncertainty that is Harry’s world in book 3 to the big screen ALMOST flawlessly. Buckbeak was beautiful as was Hermoine’s fist in Malfoy’s face. At the time I watched this movie it was my favorite of the 3, it has since been replaced, but it is still one of my favorite movies ever!

My Rating: 

1 comment:

  1. While this wasn't my favorite HP book, I felt the movie did a good enough job with the time it was given. The HP series is, of course, aimed at kids....and kids aren't gonna watch a 3+ hour film.

    I read this book as an older teen, and for myself I had trouble understanding Hermione's time traveling (but I'm always like that with books containing time traveling). So I think, for the film, they handled it as well as they could without leaving young viewers too confused.

    The most emotional part of both the book and the movie for me was at the end when Harry thinks he sees his dad but soon realizes he was wrong. I believe this is is when he began to realize that he had the strength within himself to defeat evil.


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