Harry Potter Battles Adolescence and Other Creepies

Monday Magazine | August 7, 2004
In the third movie adaptation of the J.K. Rowling series, Harry Potter (or maybe it’s just actor Daniel Radcliffe) is showing hints of the pimply stigmata of adolescence, and also displays the sullenness indicative of pubescent hormone poisoning. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing: at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, our moody hero is inspired to take hilarious revenge on the adoptive Muggle family that has tormented him for years. And Harry’s new push towards maturity will stand him in good stead as he heads into his most dire adventure yet. Mass murderer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from prison, and his involvement with the death of Harry’s parents is a clear warning that the boy wizard should be afraid, very afraid. Azkaban has been directed by newcomer Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mama Tambien), who brings a sombre palette and smooth sense of style to the proceedings. This is a high-spirited romp, ranging from the wild ride of the magical Knight Bus to the Hogwarts choir singing witchy songs while clutching massive toads for inspiration. Harry’s vendetta with the odious Draco Malfoy continues, while two new professors (well-played by David Thewlis and Emma Thompson) and a new creature (the hippogriff, a hawk-headed flying horse) keep the storyline fresh. Then there are the wraith-like Dementors, soul-sucking guards from Azkaban Prison who pose almost as much a threat to Harry as they do to the escaped prisoner. And time itself–represented by numerous shots of giant clockwork mechanisms, as well as a “time tuning” subplot–figures prominently in this story, as Harry continues to be assailed by his past while trying to confront his worst fears in order to construct a worthy future. Although Cuarón is a more talented director than predecessor Chris Columbus, this film weakens a bit in the final third, when some confusing plot exposition briefly derails the narrative momentum, en route to a slightly gimmicky conclusion. Overall, though, Azkaban shows a newfound maturity in a series that has been consistently excellent. Rating: ***1/2

Monday Magazine

Founded in 1975 to provide a critical voice in Victoria's political and cultural communities, Monday Magazine continues to shake British Columbia's conservative capital city with tell-it- like-it-is features and reviews. Targeting educated, active adults and Victoria's growing youth market, Monday...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 818 Broughton St., Victoria, BC V8W 1E4
  • Phone: (250) 382-6188