Today we continue through the story of Harry Potter, moving on to years three and four. The darkness and quality continues to amp up in these movies, finally reaching the darkness boiling point with the full introduction of the second greatest driving character of the Harry Potter universe, who until now had only been talked about or seen partially. So let’s get to it, with my reviews of Harry Potter: Years Three and Four.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Year Three) (2004)
Based on the novels of J.K. Rowling, written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Emma Thompson, Warwick Davis, David Bradley, Robert Hardy, Julie Walters, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Dawn French, Julie Christie, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, John Cleese, Pam Ferris, and Matthew Lewis.
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has more troubles with the Dursleys (Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, and Harry Melling) when Harry accidentally inflates Vernon’s sister (Pam Ferris), sending her flying off into the sky. Harry gets on a special witch bus which takes him to the Leaky Cauldron. Before heading off to school again, Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams) tells Harry that a murderer by the name of Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison. On the Hogwarts Express, Harry is attacked by a Dementor, a dark, ghostly creature that guards Azkaban and sucks the happiness out of people, but Harry is saved by the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Remus Lupin (David Thewlis). Things start going bad for Harry again, starting with Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane)’s Hippogriff, Buckbeak, being sentenced to death for scratching Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). Harry learns that Sirius Black went to jail for killing Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) and betraying Harry’s parents, leading to their murder by Lord Voldemort. Harry gets a map from Fred and George Weasley (James and Oliver Phelps) that shows where everyone is in Hogwarts, and Harry sees Peter Pettigrew on the map. After seeing Buckbeak get put to death, Ron is dragged into the Whomping Willow by a black dog. When they follow it, it turns out that the dog is Sirius Black and Professor Lupin is working with him. Sirius reveals that Pettigrew was the one that betrayed Harry’s parents and has been hiding out as Ron (Rupert Grint)’s rat, Scabbers. While taking Pettigrew to jail, Lupin sees the moon and turns into a werewolf. Harry is saved by Sirius, and then Sirius and Harry get attacked by a group of Dementors, only to be saved by a Patronis charm from Harry’s father, or so he thinks. With Sirius locked up and Ron in the hospital, Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) drops some hints that Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) figures out and uses a charm she has to take Harry and her back in time. They’re able to rescue Buckbeak and Sirius Black from death, and Harry realizes that it was actually him, and not his father, that rescued himself and Sirius.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Year Four) (2005)
Written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Mike Newell, and adding to the cast Brendan Gleeson, David Tennant, Robert Pattinson, Clemence Poesy, Stanislav Ianevski, Frances De La Tour, Katie Leung, Miranda Richardson, Shirley Henderson, and Jason Isaacs.
Harry starts having dreams that he’s overhearing a conversation between Lord Voldemort, Peter Pettigrew, and an unnamed man. He later sees the same man at an attack on the Quidditch World Cup event by Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Back to Hogwarts, two new schools show up for the Tri Wizard Tournament, being held at Hogwarts. Due to the attack, people under 17 are not allowed to enter. The Goblet of Fire chooses Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) from Hogwarts, Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy) from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) from Durmstrang Institute, and what the ?! Harry Potter?! Everyone gets all mad at Harry for, in their mind, cheating and entering the tournament even though he’s underage, but the rules say he must participate. The first task is to fight a dragon to grab a golden egg that screams when you open it. Cedric gives him the idea to open the egg underwater to hear it’s singing message while Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson) tries to catch a look at Harry’s wang, apparently not realizing she can just go see Equus. The next task is to find a way to stay underwater for an hour and save a person that’s close to you. Harry comes in last, but gets bumped up because he also saved Fleur’s sister. Finally, the four are let into a maze and must race to the center. Cedric and Harry touch it at the same time and are transported to a graveyard, where Pettigrew kills Cedric and imprisons Harry, using Harry’s blood to resurrect Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Well, mostly. He forgot to resurrect his nose. Harry and Voldemort get locked into battle, but Harry gets away when the spirits of the people recently killed by Voldemort attack him, giving Harry just enough time to escape with Cedric’s body. When he gets back, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson) spirits Harry away in the confusion. It is revealed that Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tennant) has been masquerading as Moody the entire time, leading Harry through the tournament in order to get him into the hands of Voldemort. Barty is captured and the real Moody is set free, and Harry moves on to the next year of school, in which nothing bad could possibly happen.
Surprise! I still like Harry Potter. You will probably not see a lot of surprises in the “does he or doesn’t he like it” category here. The story is steadily on the rise in quality, but the effects have probably topped out at amazing by this point. There’s not a whole lot of new effects that have been added to Prisoner of Azkaban. The werewolves are new, but I was kind of underwhelmed by them. Lupin as a werewolf was scrawny and not that frightening. I like my werewolves in the form of huge, muscly beasts with huge fangs, but the werewolf was scrawny and made me more sad than scared. The Dementors, on the other hand, were pretty metal and scary. They were like black shrouded ghost/mummies I did like Buckbeak a lot too. They gave him a lot of personality and made him kind of cute and dog-like in how he would come up and nuzzle Harry, but he could be a bit of a badass too. It’s not a super good effect, but more attention was paid to the paintings in this movie and there was this knight that was hopping into different frames and hopping into a ready to fight pose that kept popping up in the background while scenes were going on, and this guy kept drawing my attention ’cause I thought he was funny. The story stays pretty well on par. They throw time-travel into the movie, which can be dangerous, but they did it alright. The weirdest thing was that the movies never explained why Hermoine just seemingly lost her little time-travel charm after this movie. I also thought it was weird that Hermoine was so against Divination. She got up in Trelawny’s grill about it and even knocked a crystal ball off the table. You trying to tell me that all this other magic shit is fine but when it comes to telling fortunes and reading tea leaves? Poppycock! Alright then, Hermoine. You ARE supposed to be the smart one.
Goblet of Fire takes a pretty big step forward in story, darkness, and graphics. The story is good because there’s a big focus on the characters and how Ron doesn’t like being in Harry’s shadow all the time. It bothered me that Ron was all angry at Harry, thinking Harry had put his name in the cup. Yeah, ’cause nothing weird and dangerous EVER follows Harry around. Plus, Harry’s never really been comfortable with being famous. It’s not like he’s me. If I were Harry, and I were in the class when Moody said “There’s only one person who’s ever survived the killing curse,” I’d have stood up and yelled “That’s right, bitches!” This is the one where they start getting into the romantic relationships between the characters. Ron and Hermoine are at each other’s throats because they don’t realize they like each other; they just realize that they get jealous when the other person is with someone. Harry kind of gets interested in Cho, but doesn’t really stick on anyone that heavily yet. We find out pretty quick that this is going to be the darkest Harry Potter yet because it opens with the Killing Curse, tells us all about the other two Forbidden Curses, and at the end, shows Voldemort for the first time. I still wonder what the idea was behind how the go-to magic word for us is “Abra Kadabra” and it’s so close to the Killing Curse’s “Avada Kedavra”. I wanna know J.K. Rowling’s idea behind that. I also thought it was pretty interesting that one of the series’ greatest driving characters doesn’t show up entirely until the fourth book/movie. I did like the way he showed up, though. I thought the three things that were called for (Bone of the father, flesh of the servant, blood of the enemy) were appropriate, and that the cauldron caught fire and melted together, turning into Voldemort, and then the smoke creating his robes, was pretty awesome. The graphics didn’t so much improve for this one, but I liked what they did with them better. The dragon Harry fought was particularly awesome, but I thought it was strange that we didn’t get to see the other three contestants fight their dragons. Instead, we just watched Harry sitting in a room. This movie also made me wonder if Rowling described the big owl tower as being completely caked in owl shit as it was portrayed in the film. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is the bad guy again. I don’t know what Rowling is trying to say with this. My Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was a great person!
The kids are getting pretty good at acting by this point. In Goblet of Fire, both Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have pretty convincing crying scenes, and a lot of good emotions. Both of their emotions are usually despair, though Harry’s is more about people dying and Hermoine’s is more about Ron not realizing he digs on her yet. Dumbledore looked really different in this movie. I think he must’ve come down with a case of deadness. Richard Harris was replaced by Michael Gambon in Prisoner of Azkaban. I actually prefer Gambon’s Dumbledore. He plays it a little more fun. Not as fun as Emma Thompson’s Professor Trelawny, though. Trelawny became my favorite professor instantly. She’s very quirky and funny. I was also happy to see Gary Oldman and David Thewlis. I liked them already from other movies, and they have great characters in these movies. Gary Oldman is pretty insane for the majority of these movies, but it’s understandable because I understand Azkaban isn’t a nice place. But that guy is good at being crazy. I also love Alan Rickman … in pretty much anything. But I think Snape is a great character for him. He made me laugh so hard in Goblet of Fire when Harry, Ron, and Hermoine were talking and Snape kept coming up and whacking them viciously with a book. Goblet of Fire introduces us to many minor characters from the other schools. I liked the French Academy girls for some strange reason, especially Clemence Poesy. I just can’t put my finger on it … but I’m willing to try! BOOYAH! Brendan Gleeson’s character was pretty awesome as well, although the character itself only appears at the end. Barty Crouch Jr. does a good job acting like him, apparently. David Tennant is Barty Crouch Jr. too, and he’s a person who I had not heard of the first time I saw the movie but, thanks to the Nerdist podcast and Chris Hardwick’s love of Doctor Who, I now know the name David Tennant. His character has a good look thought, but he appeared only briefly as himself. Also, Katie Leung made me laugh, ’cause I’ve never heard and Asian with a Scottish accent. And how could I not mention that Ralph Fiennes finally takes the reins as Voldemort here. He plays it so over the top, but it works. He looks frightening, he acts like a human/snake hybrid that needs a lozenge. Voldemort could’ve been ruined with the wrong choice here, but they got a good’n. This is also the only time I can recall not hating Robert Pattinson in a movie. Granted, it’s not his fault that Twilight is awful, but I associate him with it.
The movies and actors are steadily improving still. Prisoner of Azkaban is fine, but Goblet of Fire blows it out of the water. It moves a lot faster and has more action because of the tournament and, of course, finally introduces us to Voldemort. The story is on it’s way up, the movies are getting darker by the movie, and the kids are becoming better actors. I recommend watching and buying both, and that’s why I did it myself. I actually bought them twice, because I couldn’t wait another 6 years to buy the set. So, Harry Potter: Years Three and Four get “Your aura is pulsing!” out of “Priori Incantatem”.
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