80. The Corpse Bride (B)
81. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (B+)
82. Beauty and the Beast (A+)
83. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (B)
84. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (B)
85. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (A+)
Prelude to Potterdammerung, Part 1: Film Series Rewatch: The Cuaron Revolution
After two back-to-back films, the series took an additional six months off, so when it came back in the summer of 2004 it had been gone a bit longer, and the change was even more pronounced. I go back and forth on whether Prisoner
is my favourite of the books, but it's my favourite of the films so far (Order
runs a close second, occasionally I think I like it more). When I did my Top 10 of the 2000s list, this was one of them.
Seriously, the difference between the first two films and this is just stunning; the aesthetics are so completely different, so vastly better, that it's stunning. There are some people who really hate this one (and, indeed, I do think Cuaron could have spared an additional five minutes for exposition without compromising anything), but it's telling that all the subsequent films have hewed fairly closely to Cuaron's visual style (albeit with fewer camera flourishes). The easiest way to describe it is that Hogwarts feels lived-in now, from the way people wear their clothes to the more realistic levels of cleanliness. And the interaction between the kids is much more natural and, until Half-Blood Prince
, did the best job of capturing Hogwarts' social scene on film.
This is the first film where the FX are truly masterful; Buckbeak still holds up marvelously today, for instance. The performances from the actors take a quantum leap in skill. Gambon's Dumbledore just has the energy the character needs; the film has my favourite film-Dumbledore moment, his "Did what?" after the duo complete their mission. Also in the realm of great casting, David Thewlis was nothing like I pictured Lupin, but after the film was over I wondered how I had't seen him that way - he's excellent. Oldman's really good too, and he and Radcliffe manage to sell their characters' connection in fairly short order, without which the film wouldn't work.