The Right Coast

June 28, 2004
Harry Potter III
By Mike Rappaport

I caught the third Harry Potter movie recently. I really enjoyed it. It may be my favoriate of the series.

Two things struck me about the movie. The first was how different the third movie was from the first two. If you consider the fact that it was the same author, a similar story, essentially the same actors, and the same producers, the change was astounding. Clearly the new director decided to shake things up, and he certainly did. People have mentioned that the new movie is darker, which is true enough. But there is much more to it. The entire texture of the picture -- the look of the film -- is dramatically different. At times, it almost has the feel of a home movie, but nonetheless it works. Various features, including the new texture, really give you a sense of surprise, wonder, and fear at the magic.

The second striking aspect was the decision made to depart at various points from the book. When I heard that the movie changed the book more than the previous movies, I was scared because it has been my experience that such changes make things worse. (The best of the Lord of the Rings movies was the first, which changed the least from the book.) In this case, however, the changes did not really take away from the original story and appeared to keep the movie moving along. While they probably could have stayed closer to the book, they did not harm the movie and may have helped it by departing. That is very unusual.