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WATCHING: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The movie is by far, just like the book, getting better, especially for its beautiful cinematography. The movie is also more maply true to the book than the previous two. I always imagine Hagrid’s hut is somewhere a bit far from the Hogwarts castle, but the first and second installment of Potter’s adventure wrongfully located the hut so close to the castle. So does, the grumpy-whomping willow. Alfonso Cuaron has put these two significant non-moving characters to its rightful location. A bit far from the castle and closer to the forbidden forest.

I also love the tone of the movie that, unlike the too-grim-first and second—while actually the grim doesn’t appear until the third. It has more laughs and cheerful atmosphere though it can still be haunting at the end. I love Emma Thompson in curly hair and bottle-bottom spectacles. She’s such a funny lady. And I sooooooooo miss Richard Harris’ Dumbledore. The new one, Michael Gambon, was just not what Dumbledore is supposed to be like. A funny, witty, wise, very very old man. Harris’ Dumbledore winks and smiles and strokes his long white beard and fulfill my childhood imagination of an old conventional wizard. That is what the book and Harris has so aptly portrayed and Gambon is unable to match to.

There are also many things I miss in the movie. Had I not read the book, I’d be in the same place as some friends who admitted that they don’t quite follow the story while I, perhaps, as an avid Potter’s books reader, found no difficulty in assembling the missing puzzles to its place. But knowing the story beforehand brings another problem, I miss some moments I know exists in the book that is not translated in the movie.

The biggest nuisance for me about the movie is that I found it lacks drama. I wonder why this happened since it is supposed to be the strength of Cuaron’s. Y Tu Mama Tambien, people? The book provides ample of dramatic events. The quarrel between Ron and Hermione, Harry’s longing for his parents, Hermione’s near nervous breakdown over too much studying and her isolation from her two best friends, Harry’s idle mind, Ron’s anger to Draco for insulting Hermione as mudblood, Hagrid’s sadness over the possibility of Buckbeak's execution, and his escalating differences with Lucius Malfoy. It was Malfoy who insisted and influenced the Hogwart's Board of Governor and Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge to execute Buckbeak. Hence, Cuaron is supposed to continue Malfoy's white-hair-devil presence to remind us that we need to keep on hating him more so that we can truly hate him in the fourth sequel when he joins Lord Voldemort.

The book is longer than the first two yet the movie is unbelievably shorter. How can screenwriter Steven Kloves do that? But this is a movie, not a book, so I can live with that. So can you. My advice is, read the book first and completes the ride by watching the movie. That way you can have double pleasure, as I did!

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