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Adult Review - Harry Potter

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Magical or Mystifying? Way back in November 2001, cinema-goers waited excitedly for the first magical instalment of J.K.Rowling's best-selling novels. They were not disappointed - Harry Potter and his fellow wizards exploded onto the big screen with a bang and a flash of light. Now, three years and one film later, can the infamous teenage wizard's third year at Hogwarts have the same dazzling effect on audiences worldwide? The simple answer is that yes, yes it can, and even more besides. The director (Alfonso Cuaron, a newcomer to the Harry Potter franchise) delivers a stunning work of cinematography with a much darker tone than the previous movies. Forget the mindless action sequences of the first movies - this is tasteful, symbolic and, most of all, highly enjoyable. The curtains rise on Harry's third year as he accidentally blows up his infuriatingly nasty Aunt Marge. The reason? She insults his mother. This is already a clever move on the part of the script-writers; in the book Harry only loses control when the subject of his parents' death is mentioned. Whilst this is fair enough, the use of the more mundane will help most teenage fans to immediately empathise with Harry much more than if he was upset over the abstract idea of death. Afraid of being sent to Azkaban, the wizard prison, he runs away aboard the perilous Knight Bus, only to be met by none other than Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic himself. ...read more.


However, the truth in why this movie is so much better lies in not what the special effects look like, but how they are used. Complaints abounded over the use of special effects in films one and two; they were overused, they didn't contribute to the storyline, they detracted from any character development and transformed the films into a technological mockery of the books. The same cannot be said for the third. Unlike the other movies, the CGI in this film does not in any way take precedence over character-development. Instead it positively adds to it, by putting characters into impossible situations and examining their reactions. Cuaron also focuses more on the intrinsic symbolisms of the books than his predecessor ever did. For example, for the entire last twenty minutes of the movie, from the point at which Hermione and Harry use the time turner to when they return to the present, the soundtrack is underscored by a continuous ticking noise; a device which seems on paper to be both irritating and contrived, and yet which translates onto the screen as a subliminal countdown of impending doom that has the audience on the edge of their seats without knowing exactly why. Indeed, the film hides several subtle symbols that subconsciously impress the theme of time (or more accurately, the instable and finite nature of time) into the audiences' psyche. ...read more.


Many people complain about the dissimilarities between the film and the book. Indeed, there are a lot of differences, the most notable being the appearances of the three main characters; the school uniforms are replaced by much cooler clothing in order to satisfy teenage fans in a move which many have deemed unnecessary, and yet which helps distinguish the film and draws the story to a more mature and frightening place than seen before. The only real fault with the film is the way it - confusingly - assumes that everyone in the cinema must have already read the book and therefore know the plot. As a result, some of the finer details are lost and muddied, including the whole back-story involving Harry's father, meaning that some finer moments in the film could be slightly baffling to the less knowledgeable in the audience. Of course, these are all minor points, and as I have said before, the film on a whole is spectacular. It has even been nominated for multiple awards, including two OSCAR's and a Grammy. So forget the horror of the first two films; this movie is one that the entire family can truly enjoy, and still keep going back for more!!! After all, the extraordinary world of Harry Potter extends for four more years yet, and if the sequels live up to the standard set by this instalment of the series, you wouldn't need to be Professor Trelawney to predict the continuing success of this magical franchise! ...read more.

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