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Prisoner of Azkaban: Heidi's Review

Posted by: Melissa
June 04, 2004, 10:45 AM

As Heidi is running around NY getting things ready for tomorrow's IMAX showing, here is her review of PoA. Spoilers! It's written from a Mom-Of-Small-Child perspective. Enjoy!
This is not an ordinary review; I could babble for pages about the
cinematography and the revised sets and the Whomping Willow and the
scene in the Shack and the way I was more enthralled by David Thewlis as
Lupin when we couldn't see that moustache, and how impressed I was about
how the cast have all developed as actors.
But I was lucky enough to see Prisoner of Azkaban with my son, who's
nearly five, so my review will, hopefully, address the concerns and
curiosities of parentss of young children, who may want to see the

I've revised this review twice - once when I saw Alfonso Cuaron's
comment in Premiere that Prisoner of Azkaban is 'less violent' than the
first two films, and again when I saw that the film was to be rated 15
in Australia because of 'horror'.

First of all, the end of Philosopher's Stone, where Harry is a much more
active participant in the demise of Quirrel than he is in the book was
much more horrific than anything in Azkaban. Even the swordfight against
the Basilisk and the destruction of Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets had
more potential to terrify little children than the scenes with the
Dementors in this film.

Yes, they're creepy, but the average child under 8 won't really
understand what makes them so dangerous and horrible unless they've
already been exposed to details from the book.

Two potentially frightening segments from the book - Draco Malfoy's
injury and what Harry hears of his parents - have been minimized in
terms of their frightening aspects. Blood doesn't drip from Draco's arm
as Hagrid carries him off, and we don't hear the detailed lines from the
Potters' deaths; we only hear Lily scream. I won't say that both scenes
are un-scary, but they're certainly less frightening than the Trio's
battle with the Troll in the first film.

Not that the film is wholly nonviolent. Punches are thrown, little
bluebirds are reduced to feathers and choir singers are knocked over at
various intervals, and there's a moment when Harry and Hermione are set
upon by a werewolf. It's not considerably different from the violence in
Shrek 2 and doesn't rise to the level of, say, Spide-Man or any Star
Wars film.

A larger concern for parents thinking of taking young children is the
length of the movie. As it's shorter than either of the first two, it's
probably going to be the case that any child who can sit through one of
those will be fine with this, although they might need some whispered
explanations in the Shrieking Shack scene and might think, as my son
did, that Sirius's character's name is really "Mysterious Black".

While I'm sure some would disagree with me, I strongly feel that any
child with the attention span to sit through more than two hours of a
movie would do well at Prisoner of Azkaban. Yes, the film is geared to
appeal to teens, as well as adult fans, but there's enough there to
entertain a Potter fan of any age.

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