Thoughts on Prisoner of Azkaban

My wife and I saw the latest Harry Potter movie over the weekend. It’s my favorite so far. I’m not sure if it was the new director, or just the fact that this book was longer than the first two, but I thought this movie spent far less time on stuff from the book that wasn’t relevant to the story. I took a film class back in high school, and the teacher explained that every scene in a movie has to do one of three things.

  1. Advance the plot
  2. Advance the character
  3. Get a laugh

I amended rule #3 to be “Get a reaction” since there are often scenes in a horror or thriller movie that are there just to scare you. The first two Harry Potter movies seemed to spend a significant amount of screen time on getting the reaction: “I remember that from the book”. For example, in the last movie, when Harry and Ron drink a potion to transform into Malfoy’s two henchmen (henchboys?) , Hermione accidentally transforms herself into a cat. The only reason that scene is in the movie is because it’s in the book. Not having Hermione doesn’t affect Harry and Ron’s mission (i.e. it didn’t advance the plot) nor was there any fallout or change to Hermione in later scenes (i.e. it didn’t advance the character). It doesn’t even get a laugh. Given the Harry Potter movies are around 2 1/2 hours long each, there’s no excuse for extraneous scenes like this.

Kill Bill Vol 2, Troy, Shrek 2 and Harry Potter so far with Spider-Man 2 and King Arthur on the horizon. Sure we’ve had Van Helsing and The Day After Tomorrow, but so far the summer movie season is looking good.