Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The third installment of the series finds Harry Potter in great danger. Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban -- the wizard prison that no one has ever escaped from -- and is coming after Harry. Although everyone is very worried about Harry's safety, he's more worried about being confined to the castle and winning the Quidditch Cup; that is, until he learns the truth about why Black went to prison in the first place. To make matters worse, every time Harry crosses a dementor -- the terrible soul-sucking creatures placed around the castle for the school's protection -- he relives his worst memory: his mother screaming as Voldemort murders her.

The taunt about his father rang in Harry's ears as though Black had bellowed it. A boiling hate erupted in Harry's chest, leaving no place for fear. For the first time in his life, he wanted his wand back in his hand, not to defend himself, but to attack--to kill.

Another great Harry Potter adventure... I am enjoying this way too much. This is the first book that the film was a significant departure from. When new director Alfonso Cuaron stepped in, he had never read a Harry Potter book before. For the most part, this one isn't a huge difference. There were just a couple things about the film that bothered me -- namely that in the beginning, Harry is practicing spells in his bedroom. Anyone who read any of the books would realize this is ridiculous -- underage wizards aren't allowed to practice magic during summer holidays, and every time Harry accidentally has, he's been terrified of (and been threatened with) being expelled. He would never practice just for fun.

But anyway, about the book. Once again, I love how Rowling jumps right into Big Issues, even though it's "just a kids' book." The trio learns the typical lesson about Friendship (friends are more important than silly fights), but also Big Lessons about Revenge and Betrayal. That's cool to me.

As much as I love Professor Dumbledore, his character annoys me sometimes. He's supposed to be so smart and all-knowing, and yet he still never seems to be able to help Harry with his troubles until afterwards, when he comes in for the feel-good one-liners. He always contributes the Moral of the Story in the final chapter. And then he's always speaking in riddles. When two lives are on the line and he gives Harry and Hermione instructions for saving them, he doesn't just outright tell them, leaving the kids to figure it out when they're already tight on time. Though I guess with more interference from him, there wouldn't be much of a story.