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You’ll like it (not a lot) May 31

(Here be spoilers.)

JK Rowling must have been watching too much Crime Traveller (i.e. any) when she sat down to write Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The finale is only missing Sue Johnston shouting “Slade!” in a melodramatic way.

Yes, this evening I went to see the new Harry Potter film. I’m not a reader of the books so I didn’t know what was coming; nevertheless, the plot was pretty uninspiring and the twists predictable. Both the acting of the young leads and the special effects have come on since the series began, but the result is that my criticisms lay entirely with the film’s story.

The movie is slow to get going, with much talk of Sirius Black but little action of any clear relevance (although elements turn out to be of vague importance later on). There is a lack of structure: a bunch of stuff happens, but with no real thread connecting each incident to the next, and Harry ends up in the Hogwarts infirmary far too many times. This is, perhaps, the result, as with the previous books, of cramming a school year’s worth of events into a two-and-a-quarter hour film.

There is, eventually, a climax of sorts, as everyone reveals their true intentions in the Shrieking House. So many revelations at once, muddled in with Snape’s unnecessary appearance, make for a bumbled scene. (Most of the revelations are obvious, after being heavily trailed, although one – the identity of Pettigrew – seems something a cheat with only the slightest of hints until Ron gets bitten.) Having reached this climax, we then slow down again in order for Michael French and Chlo&euml Annett – sorry, Harry and Hermione – to go back in time and do it all again. And once Harry has been shown fighting off the Nazgul – sorry, Dementors – we (OK, the kids the film is aimed at) are patronised with a detailed explanation.

The Prizoner of Azkaban is directed with more flair than the first two films, but that can’t make up for a weak story that doesn’t flow. It is entertaining but, lacking in structure, feels overlong. Worth a look, but don’t expect too much.

(PS: For an extra dimension, try watching as if Lupin’s secret is that he is a paedophile.)

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