All the while watching this I wondered if, when these kids were initially
cast, a computer aging program was used to judge how they'd look throughout
the series as they matured through the years that could produce profound
changes in a young person. Whether the casting people employed this
technology for predictive purposes or not, these kids are growing into their
roles as organically sound as anyone might wish. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert
Grint and Emma Watson continue their positions at Hogwarts in complete safety
from the ravages of maturation. The franchise is safe, as well.
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone|
Published: September, 1998
Sold: More than 24 million
Movie released: Nov. 16, 2001
Worldwide box office: $969 Million (2nd highest)
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Published: June 1999
Sold: More than 20 million
Movie released: Nov. 15, 2002
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Published: September, 1999
Sold: More than 16 million
Movie: Production in February, 2003 for release in
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Published: July 2000
Sold 16 million
Movie: Production expected to begin in spring 2004 for anticipated release in
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Movie: Plans pending
Source: L.A. Times
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Publication date: July 16, 2005
The replacement for Harry's mentor, Prof. Dumbledore, is Michael Gambon,
taking over for the deceased Richard Harris, and doing a splendidly soft and
capable job of it. Gary Oldman is introduced as the title prisoner,
himself and David Thewlis shows up as Professor Lupin (a lupo is a wolf, so
watch that symbolism) who lectures on a wizard's defense against the Dark
The saga, in its third year, has grown darker, both in its visual dimensions
and its hellish characters. Worst among these are the Dementors whose
purpose is to suck the life out of you in a process that looks a lot like a
digital vacuum cleaner. They are the guards at Azkaban from whom the
Prisoner unexplainably managed to escape and now haunts the halls of Hogwarts
looking for him while he looks for Harry, a dual pursuit that increases the
horror aspects of the adventure.
At another lecture, new prof Hagrid the giant (Robbie Coltrane) introduces the
wiles and policies of a potentially benign creature, the Hippogriff, a flying
horse with the head of an eagle. Digitally sprung from the magic wands of
the CGI artists, his soaring with Harry aboard is an uplifting experience for
all of us who appreciate a good ride.
In this episode, so much time is spent on including juicy little vignettes
of magic and invention from author Rowlands' mind that the story tension
dissipates and the audience's mind travels in other directions. The shortest
of the series so far, it feels the longest and suffers in need of a pair of
sharp editorial cuts.
The most interesting of the magical developments is Hermione's use of a time
travel necklace to send Harry and herself back to correct a few developments.
Since in this zone, they are duplicates of themselves, they cannot be seen by
anyone, so must hide while spying on their earlier selves, a juggling of
realities with a special sense of magical power and danger.
Hitting on some cylinders, sputtering on others, the episode maintains its
level of adventure with cleverness and style. Its visual realization is
splendidly artful with the demonic element no great detriment (except in the
design of the werewolf, perhaps). New director (to the series) Alfonso
Cuaron, brought in off his successful children's story, "A Little Princess"
(and not because of "Y tu mama
tambien") does manage to highten the presence of danger. It's a shift that
will work better for adults than for many of the younger impressionable minds
that have grasped the Rowlands book to their hearts. These images might
provoke more than a few nightmares in blue and pink bedrooms this year.
Links to reviews of prior episodes:
~~ Jules Brenner
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"