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Written By: Mike Schulz
HARRY POTTER & THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
Anyone interested in the distinction between routine direction and inspired direction – anyone who has ever wondered what, exactly, it is that a director brings to a movie – should compare Chris Columbus’ first two Harry Potter films with Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban, helmed by Alfonso Cuaron; Columbus’ films are the work of a by-the-numbers craftsman, and Cuaron’s is the work of an artist. (Which isn’t to say that everyone will prefer Cuaron’s style; many people would rather dine on Big Macs than filet mignon.) Cuaron isn’t quite able to overcome the series’ built-in limitations – the familiarity of the storytelling arc, the “surprising” character reversals that aren’t really much of a surprise, the fact that all three movies are too damned long – but for those viewers, like me, who’ve never been overly enamored of the Harry Potter film series, Azkaban is as fine an entertainment as you could hope for, a visually audacious work with moments of true magic, and it improves on Chris Columbus’ vision tenfold.
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