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Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

Colin:

Okay, guys. If you’ve just read all of these articles, you’ll be thinking that I’m a grumpy douche who hated this film. Well, I am a grumpy douche, but I don’t hate this movie. No, nit-picking is just part of my nature — I can’t help but to take issue with things that are inconsistent or don’t make sense. All the same, I should explain that my issues with this movie are primarily with Rowling, and not with the movie itself. 

Granted, there are one or two things about the movie. They did cut out some exposition that I would have liked, like the Marauder’s Map stuff, or the stuff about Harry’s dad. Then there was the bad CGI with Buckbeak, although that isn’t too bad when you watch it. It’s pretty much just in screenshots that you realize how horrible it was. I guess there was stuff about the timeline or whatever. Minor stuff, really, when you compare it to the issues we have with Rowling. 

I think you got most of the stuff that Mike and I covered during the articles; inconsistencies, stuff that Rowling clearly never thought out, and some things that are so clearly plot devices it’s sad. Dementors in general are just wrong. You’ve got a seemingly mindless creature that acts as a prison guard, but can be easily repelled by any accomplished wizard — even a sort of talented third year student. I pointed out that Harry is able to use the Patronus charm because he saw himself do it; this is one of the biggest cop outs in the whole franchise. And from now on, we’re not concerned about dementors cause they can be instantly dispatched. Then there’s bits like how sometimes boggarts are completely harmless, and other times they gain the dangerous attributes of the things they mimic. 

Still, we’ve come a long way from The Philosopher’s Stone. The amount of tedious exposition has come way down, and we’re having a lot more fun with things now. Hermione is a total boss now, bitch slapping motherfuckers and all that. It seems like they’ve finally hit their stride with the humor, and the bad child actors have matured considerably. Ron is no less useless than usual, but he’s in this one less than the others, which helps.

Most importantly, this movie just looks and feels better made than the first two. The visuals are better than the first two films, enough so that even I noticed. Mike pointed out several times that the direction is noticeably better, and I agree completely. This is a better made film than the ones before it. Remember the opening scene of the first movie? How clumsy and awful it looked? Adjusted for inflation, Prisoner of Azkaban cost slightly less than Philosopher’s Stone, but it looks like they spent twice as much on it. Well done, you guys. This is the first film of the franchise where I’m excited for the film aspect of it, and don’t feel like I’m just semi-excited to be watching the so-so film version of a book I liked.

My Final Thoughts:

This is my favorite film in the franchise. It’s my favorite book, too. This is the best looking film in the franchise, along with (humorously enough) Half-Blood Prince. Though that one is more about cinematography than anything. This one is about pure directing. Alfonso Cuaron knocked it out of the park.

I don’t have too many issues with the movie, aside from what we covered in the articles, and even then, a lot of that was for comedy purposes. This is definitely the movie where Hermione comes to the forefront as the best character in the franchise. This is also the movie where you clearly see her and Harry being set up to be together, which continues for the next two movies until they go, “Uh oh, the books are different, we should do something about this.” And then Dumbledore gets his badass moment at the end as well, which marks the shift from Richard Harris’s awesome, but completely inept, Dumbledore, who wants to close the school because he can’t find a chamber inside the school to Michael Gambon’s “I know everything/let’s let the students fuck with time, because what could go wrong there? I’m awesome enough to handle multiple dimensions anyway” Dumbledore. I like Richard Harris better than Michael Gambon, but I will admit, Gambon’s Dumbledore is probably better, movie-wise. He’s just more entertaining. It’s actually kind of interesting to see the change in Dumbledores as synecdoche for the change in the overall tone of the franchise.

Plot-wise, it’s interesting how little actually happens in this movie. This is the only movie that really has nothing to do with Voldemort. I mean, Peter Pettigrew being alive does drive what happens in the next movie, but this is more about the revelation of that more than anything, so I don’t count it. It’s a weird movie, narratively, since it’s about Harry dealing with a vague threat of a dude who is apparently out to kill him, but not really knowing why or what it has to do with him. And then it becomes about finding family. Which is funny, since they take that away from him in two movies, in Order of the Phoenix, which is another movie that really isn’t about anything, yet also sets up a lot of the emotional stuff that will drive the franchise from here on out. So I like that this (and Order of the Phoenix, but we’ll get to that) remains one of the best, if not the best, movies in the franchise while not really being one of the most important, plot-wise.

Again — not too much stuff I disliked. Most of it was minor. The final sequence where they go back in time is actually my favorite moment in the entire franchise. Hermione becomes a total boss in this movie. Gary Oldman is the best. What’s there to dislike?

But yeah — favorite movie. This movie will always be the most important one in the franchise, given how much it informs the rest of the films from here on out. I can’t imagine this movie isn’t in everyone’s top three (and I’ll even allow for top four, if you want to split the two Deathly Hallows movies and put them both in the top three).

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we start Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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