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'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' Quiz Question: Is CGI (Enough) Magic?

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' poster with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.

'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' quiz question: Does state of the art CGI equal movie magic?

Alfonso Cuarón seems like an odd choice for director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment in the Harry Potter movie series. That is, if one thinks only of Cuarón's pre-Harry Potter sleeper hit, the François Truffaut-esque Y tu mamá también, while ignoring two of his earlier efforts, the critically acclaimed A Little Princess and the moderately respected Great Expectations.

This time around, working with a reported $130 million budget (approx. $163 million in 2015), state-of-the-art special effects, and the Harry Potter franchise, Cuarón surely could do no wrong. At the box office, that is. For although Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is stylistically superior to Chris Columbus' previous work in the series, this latest Harry Potter is also a major artistic letdown.

'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' synopsis

Admittedly, Steve Kloves' haphazard screenplay adaptation is mostly to blame for the film's failings, since those who haven't read J.K. Rowling's bestseller will probably be left as dazed and confused as I was while attempting to follow the myriad twists and turns of the plot. It goes something like this:

After a particularly bizarre family confrontation, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) heads back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once there, Harry, now a full-fledged bespectacled teen, discovers that the evil Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from the prison of Azkaban after 12 years of incarceration.

Black, everyone says, was the murderous right-hand man of the dark wizard Voldemort, and sooner than you can say “Wingardium Leviosa,” the evildoer is roaming the corridors of Hogwarts, apparently seeking to avenge his fallen master by killing little Harry.

Troubled teen

Besides having to handle the usual snotty school bullies, keep up with his Hogwarts duties, and remain alive, Harry must come to terms with his feelings of parental loss when he learns that Black was to blame for his parents' death.

And if that weren't enough, the troubled teen has to fend off the creepy Dementors, lizard-like flying creatures who have been called upon to protect the school and whose favorite pastime is to suck away Harry's life essence.

In order to get through this series of ordeals, Harry relies on the moral (and physical) support of his two buddies, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), and on the help of a mysterious teacher, Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), who seems to know more about all that is going on than he cares to admit.

Emma Thompson Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanEmma Thompson in 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' movie.

Enchantment-less 'magic'

Compounding matters in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are John Williams' – as usual – bombastic score and the sight of a veritable parade of renowned British actors wasted in ineffectual roles or minuscule bits.

And although Alfonso Cuarón may not have been responsible for the final edit of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and for all the emoting faces left on the cutting-room floor, he's certainly to blame for allowing Gary Oldman to devour the scenery with more gusto than the meanest of the Dementors, and for letting Emma Thompson give what may well be the worst performance of her distinctive career.

Yet, Cuarón's biggest failure is that he has directed a movie about magic whose magical moments are made up solely of visual effects. And without a soul to bring it to life, CGI is merely what the abbreviation means: computer generated imagery.

For Alfonso Cuarón-generated magic, bypass Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – and, for that matter, the equally popular Gravity – and check out the second half of Y tu mamá también.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).
Dir.: Alfonso Cuarón.
Scr.: Steve Kloves. From J.K. Rowling's novel.
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe. Rupert Grint. Emma Watson. Gary Oldman. David Thewlis. Robbie Coltrane. Michael Gambon. Richard Griffiths. Alan Rickman. Fiona Shaw. Maggie Smith. Timothy Spall. Emma Thompson. Julie Walters. Julie Christie. Pam Ferris. Warwick Davis. Harry Melling. Adrian Rawlins. Geraldine Somerville. Robert Hardy. Oliver Phelps. James Phelps. Bonnie Wright. Mark Williams. Devon Murray. Matthew Lewis. Tom Felton. Dawn French.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Daniel Radcliffe'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' movie with Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint.

'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban': Oscar Movies

Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban received two Academy Award nominations.

Alfonso Cuarón movies

Below are a handful of notable Alfonso Cuarón films.

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban cast info via the IMDb.

Images of Emma Thompson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Warner Bros.

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban poster: Warner Bros.


         
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3 Comments to 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' Quiz Question: Is CGI (Enough) Magic?

  1. karcat

    i love harry pootter?????????????

  2. Amber

    I disagree, I think that the way the third movie turned out and was
    directed, was brilliant. Moving on, I highly dislike Yates as a director
    a.k.a. the latest Harry Potter films were the worst. And that random
    fire scene added in Half Blood Prince out of nowhere? Don't get me
    started.

  3. Kazan

    Prisoner of Azkaban was dull. The best Harry Potter was the first one. It hasn't been equaled.