Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
I've just returned from London, where Daniel Radcliffe created a stir by speculating that his famous character, Harry Potter, might have to die at the end of the series. Certainly that seems like more of a possibility in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," the third Potter film, than it did in the first two. It's not that Harry, Ron and Hermione are faced with any really gruesome dangers (there's nothing here on the order of the spider that wrapped up Frodo for his dinner in the "Ring" trilogy), but that Harry's world has grown a little darker and more menacing.
The film centers on the escape of the sinister Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) from Azkaban Prison; Sirius was convicted in Voldemort's plot to murder Harry's parents, and now it's suspected he must finish the job by killing Harry. As Harry returns for his third year at Hogwarts, grim wraiths named Dementors are stationed at every entrance to the school to ward off Sirius, but the Dementors are hardly reassuring, with their trick of sucking away the soul essence of their victims.
Harry, too, has developed an edge. We first met him as the poor adopted relative of a suburban family that mistreated him mercilessly; this time, Harry is no longer the long-suffering victim but zaps an unpleasant dinner guest with a magical revenge that would be truly cruel if it were not, well, truly funny. Harry is no longer someone you can mess with.
Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) return to a Hogwarts that boasts, as it does every school year, peculiar new faculty members (this school policy promises years of employment for British character actors). New this year are Professor Lupin (David Thewlis), who tutors Harry in a tricky incantation said to provide protection against the dark magic of Sirius, and Professor Sybil Trelawney (Emma Thompson), whose tea readings don't pull punches-- not when she gazes into the bottom of Harry's cup and sees death in the leaves.