Harry Potter Lupin

Season’s Greetings and salutations, werewolf movie lovers! Hope all your holiday festivations are merry ones! On this very special (and final) month of the year, I come to you with a treat for the entire family: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban! Now, don’t worry about a lot of stuffy comparisons to the books in this review. Everyone knows I can’t read. This will be strictly a MOVIE review from a serious Harry Potter MOVIE fan: ME!

Total Harry Potter movies seen and owned: 3

Total Harry Potter books read: 0

And now, for the rundown...

As the film opens, we rejoin Harry Potter, boy-wizard prodigy, in his 13th year of miserable life with the Dursleys, his less than loving Aunt, Uncle, and cousin. Harry’s situation has improved somewhat since we first met him. He no longer lives in that cupboard under the stairs for example, though he still is expected to wait, hand and foot, on his relatives. The Dursleys are as insufferable as ever. Cousin Dudley is addicted to television, his mother is a nervous wreck, his father seems to have tripled in size since last year, and all are still hateful to kindhearted Harry, though a little fear has made them manageable. Not the case with Aunt Marge, however, who stops in one day for dinner. She is unaware of the magical powers the boy has and is every bit as mean as her brother and his family. When Marge mouths off one time too many about Harry’s parents during dinner, our hero has an involuntary reaction. In a moment of defensive retort towards the old woman, Harry’s magic gets the better of him, and she begins to...blow up. Starting with a forefinger in mid-wag, the already bloated old Marge begins to inflate. As her rotten family panics and cries, Aunt Marge fills with so much magic gas that she begins to float out of the house and into the air, clear out of sight! Of course, Harry can’t stick around after that. Next, we see him coming downstairs with his trunk and wand at the ready, and the boy finds himself face to face with homelessness in suburbia. His friends in the wizarding world haven’t forgotten about him though, as he soon finds out. Sitting on a curb wondering what to do next and puzzled by something watching him from the bushes across the street, the mysterious Knight Bus arrives just in time. “Transportation for the stranded witch or wizard,” as it is described, and a welcome sight it is. Preparing to board, Harry meets an entertainingly obnoxious porter named Stan Shunpike, Ernie, the typically daring English bus driver, and a much too happy to be alive shrunken head. After one wild ride through London, Harry finds himself at “The Leaky Cauldron” and face to face with the Minister of Magic, who welcomes him with a friendly greeting, a room for the night, a reunion with Hedwig the owl, and new school books for the coming year. Harry also receives an accidental warning about an escaped murderer, one he had only just found out about on the bus ride over, a sinister looking man named Sirius Black.

After a good night’s sleep and better times to look forward to, Harry is thrilled to see his best friends again, noble misfit Ron Weasley and family, and increasingly lovely know-it-all Hermione Granger. The extended family is in good spirits for the new school year, though Mr. Weasley’s mind is not completely at ease. Ever the great father figure for orphaned Harry, Mr. Weasley takes the boy aside to give him a much more informative warning about the Azkaban prison escapee, Sirius Black, and why Harry should be particularly wary of him. It seems that Black is believed to have been Lord Voldemort’s right-hand man and was imprisoned for the murder of one Peter Pettigrew, a close friend of Harry’s parents. Now that Black is out of prison, everyone suspects that Harry Potter is the first one he will come for, since it was he who thwarted Lord Voldemort’s plans time and time again. With that bit of information weighing on his mind, Harry and his schoolmates board the train to Hogwarts, selecting a compartment already occupied by a sleeping Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. There are mysterious doings on the Hogwarts Express, however, as we discover when Harry has his first encounter with the dark cloaked, faceless, floating figure of a Dementor. As the creature attempts to suck out Harry’s soul in a most unpleasant display, the seemingly dead to the world Professor Lupin springs into action! With wand extended, Lupin casts a spell of light to blast the creature from sight, and before leaving to speak to the conductor, graces Harry with a healthy supply of chocolate to help restore his strength. From Lupin, we learn that the Dementors, the guards of Azkaban prison, are on a nonstop search for their escaped prisoner. We also come to find that the creatures are overrunning the grounds of Hogwarts as well. Upon their first night back at school, all the students are given warning from Headmaster Dumbledore of the looming danger. Dumbledore also introduces Professor Lupin, and the announcement is made that Rubeus Hagrid has been added to the faculty as teacher of a class on the care of magical beasts. Everyone settles into their dorms that night, and classes get underway the following day.

As the days and weeks pass, the customary Hogwarts balance of fascinating classes and strange and mysterious incidents takes place. Professor Trelawney teaches about crystal balls, tea leaf reading, and other forms of divination. The class frustrates Hermione, as she can’t get the knack, and holds bad omens for Harry when an unlucky black dog called “the Grim” is spotted in his tea. Hagrid’s class seems to be going well as he introduces the students to a half eagle, half horse creature called a hippogriff, but when Draco Malfoy becomes jealous of Harry’s high-flying ride on the creature’s back, he fakes an injury and gets the gentle beast marked for death. The most interesting and mysterious class, however, must be Professor Lupin’s “Defense Against the Dark Arts.” The Professor begins by introducing the students to a mysterious, fear personifying creature called a boggart. He teaches them to alter the creature to a less frightening form with a “ridiculous” spell, which works quite well for a while, but when Harry’s turn comes up, Lupin jumps in to defend the boy wizard. Before Lupin’s eyes, the Boggart changes shape from that of a Dementor, to an image of the full moon! In the days that follow, there are field trips, holidays, Quidditch games, budding romance, run-ins with Snape and Malfoy, heart to hearts between Harry Potter and the endearing Professor Lupin, and secrets revealed about the mysterious Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew, the latter due in no small part to a Marauder’s Map and an invisibility cloak.

Before long, it becomes clear to those characters most dear to us that Professor Remus Lupin is a werewolf. After all, why else would I be reviewing this movie at the Werewolf Cafe? We also learn that Sirius Black is, in fact, Harry Potter’s godfather. Yet, there are more secrets to be revealed even still. When Buckbeak the hippogriff’s execution day finally comes around, everything comes to a boil. While Harry, Ron, and Hermione grimly await and watch the horrific event from afar, Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers, bites his owner and heads for the hills. Taking off after the little rodent, the three find themselves in the shadow of a whomping willow! Suddenly, Ron is dragged into an opening beneath the great tree by a vicious looking black dog, and Harry and Hermione do their best to battle their way after him. Once inside the dark tunnel, they make their way out the other side, which leads them right into the legendary Shrieking Shack. There, in the heart of “the most haunted building in Britain,” our band of heroes comes face to face with the illusive, shape-shifting Sirius Black! They’re not alone, however. Professor Lupin shows up to greet Black, his old friend. Harry and his friends are sure they’ve uncovered a sinister plot, and Professor Snape arrives on the scene just in time to save them, but Harry is not satisfied with so few answers. Blasting Snape unconscious with his wand, Harry demands an explanation from Professor Lupin and Godfather Black. The one he gets turns all we thought we knew upside down. It’s not Harry that Sirius Black has been after, it’s Scabbers the rat! Or, to use his correct name, Peter Pettigrew, Voldemort’s REAL right-hand man! All those years ago, it was he that led Voldemort to Harry’s parents, betraying their friendship and that of Sirius and Remus. The rat is turned back into a man, and Harry convinces his godfather to spare him for the authorities and to clear his own name. The two exchange touching words, and Sirius even offers to give Harry a home once he is cleared.

It seems like everything will work out after all, until the full moon shows itself. Professor Lupin begins to convulse and change, and in only a moment, has transformed into a bloodthirsty werewolf! Okay, he looks more like a giant, emaciated, mutated greyhound, but he still looks dangerous! The creature attacks, but is foiled by Sirius Black, resuming the form of a ferocious dog. Harry runs out to save his godfather, and in the mayhem, Peter Pettigrew escapes! An unknown howling in the distance distracts werewolf Lupin, and saves Harry frame a grisly fate, but for his godfather it is too late. The dementors have found him! Circling overhead, they begin their descent. Gradually, they suck the life out of the now human Sirius Black. A weakened Harry looks on from his godfather’s side and manages to see their salvation before passing out. A light from the other side of the forest shines brightly and blasts the dementors away. The light is in the form of a mighty stag, and Harry is convinced the source was his own, dead father. Harry awakens in the school hospital, Hermione at his side. Ron is also there, leg bandaged and unable to walk. Harry is heartbroken to be informed that Sirius Black has been captured and awaits a fate worse than death, the loss of his soul. That’s when wise, old Headmaster Dumbledore saves the day again with his suggestive meddling. See, all year long, Hermione has managed to take two classes at once by using a magical object called a time turner. For some reason, even the smartest witch in the world didn’t think to use the device to change the events of the past day, but Dumbledore remedies that right quick. Only moments later, Harry and Hermione are back to the moments before Buckbeak’s execution, freeing the four-legged bird and then lying in wait for the opportunity to save Sirius Black. When darkness falls, the beasts come out to play, and it’s Hermione who delivers the mysterious howl to save Harry’s life, and it’s Buckbeak who saves her from the wrath of the werewolf. All the more surprising, it’s Harry who casts the mysterious spell of the glowing stag that saved his godfather from the dementors!

In the end, Peter Pettigrew still escapes, but before time catches up with them, Harry and Hermione manage to free Sirius from Azkaban prison a second time and send him off on his way on the back of Buckbeak the hippogriff. Unfortunately, Harry’s dream of leaving the Dursleys to live with his loving godfather are never realized. Sirius Black is still on the run from the law until he can clear himself. I would assume that he’s a werewolf now too, after that confrontation with Lupin, but that’s never mentioned. All we do know is that the kind and compassionate Professor Lupin resigns from his post at Hogwarts, knowing that the revelation of him being a werewolf would cause a stream of angry letters from parents the next day. After a tender goodbye between he and Harry, our last moments for this year at Hogwarts are shared with our favorite students as they gather around Harry’s newly delivered package: a Firebolt, fastest broom in the world, a single hippogriff feather attached to the handle.

And so it ends! Another fantastic Harry Potter movie, in my humble opinion. I realize the fans of the books had mixed feelings about this one, but as a fan of the movies, I think this MIGHT be my favorite. It’s a tough thing to say. The first film had a great, innocent quality, and definitely a much simpler plot. Everything was new and surprising, as is always the way with the first film in a series. The second was a bit more advanced, a bit creepier, a bit more complicated and mysterious. This third film followed that same course: darker, more grown up than the first two, much more complicated and much more mysterious. The characters are growing up, and the films display this well without overdoing it. Relationships are growing beautifully, not just between the three main heroes, but between everyone. I get a really warm feeling from seeing the love Ron’s family shows Harry and the compassion with which Lupin trains and comforts the young wizard. The questions of this film were very intriguing, and it was amazing to see everything unfold. While I hope not every future Potter film will be this dark, I still say Director Alfonso Cuaron took the helm masterfully. The darkness is balanced with moments of humor and beauty, the effects are stunning, and the scenery is breathtaking. John Williams’ music is always incomparable, and the casting of the entire Harry Potter series continues to be flawless. Fans of the books might have different opinions, but I can’t imagine how any of the roles could be played better. There has been much talk of the younger members of the cast aging too quickly for their roles. I believe that’s blown out of proportion. At most, the actors and actresses look a year older than they are supposed to be. No big deal, and certainly not worth recasting for future films. Such a move would be very risky. Now, all this praise is not to say that the film is without a flaw. This is The Werewolf Cafe, so let’s talk about the werewolf.

I’ll start by pointing out that the werewolves of the Harry Potter world are something I’ve eagerly anticipated seeing since they were mentioned in the first film. Even though they were suggested as being very dangerous creatures, my hope was that they would not necessarily be evil or mindless killers. At the very least, I hoped that some would be good and some would be evil. Well, it didn’t work out that way. They took the old route of a tormented werewolf character who is kind and remorseful by day, and a bloodthirsty monster during a full moon. I can live with that. I thought David Thewlis was excellent as the sympathetic Professor Remus Lupin. All in all, I loved the character. He was thoughtful, powerful, caring, and wise. What I didn’t love was the creature he became, the werewolf. I hate to be superficial, but it was the look of the thing, and I know I’m not alone in this. It was pathetic. This was a tall, skinny, gray-skinned, short-haired, disgusting looking, computer-generated thing. There was not a wolf quality about it. Frankly, I much preferred the look of Sirius Black’s black dog form, and it looked much more like a proper werewolf than the transformed Lupin. Don’t get me wrong, the creature looked scary and dangerous, but not really in the right way... It was more along the lines of that old urban legend, where the tourist finds a stray dog on her trip to Mexico, thinks it’s a rare Chihuahua, and keeps it by her side her whole life, only to find out later that it was just a diseased rat. Yeah, that’s it. It looked like a giant version of what I imagine that lady found. Sad, I know. One serious flaw in an otherwise AWESOME movie, and it had to be the design of the werewolf. I don’t know why it’s so hard for some folks in the movie business to know what a good looking werewolf should look like, but...well...apparently it is. Ah well, sickly Asthma-hound Chihuahuas aside, this film is excellent. For the human side alone, it’s even a great werewolf film. Watch it. Enjoy it. When the werewolf comes on the scene, try to lose yourself in the setting or picture one from Van Helsing or An American Werewolf In London. Don’t be one of these suckers that lets one flaw, even a major one, ruin your enjoyment of what otherwise is an extraordinary movie! I’m going to cherish this film for years to come, because it’s still an awesome ride! And, I’m going to eagerly await more installments in the Harry Potter series! And...I'm going to TRY to get around to reading the books too!

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” and the original film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” are all available on DVD and VHS. The DVD extras are numerous, if not outstanding, and the films themselves all make wonderful additions to any home video collection. For more fantastic fantasy in the same line as Harry Potter, check out Return to Oz (Fairuza Balk), The Worst Witch (Fairuza Balk/Tim Curry), The Wizard of Oz (Judy Garland), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder), Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mary Poppins, The Witches (Angelica Huston), The NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth, Dragonslayer, Willow, the Ewok Adventures, Legend, the Star Wars Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Peter Pan (Jason Isaacs), and Hocus Pocus (Bette Midler). Happy viewing! See ya next time!

three comments:

Bravo S2M! Boy, can you write a great movie review! Once again you wrote another great one! Excellent!
The Busboy - December 28 2004 - 08:15

Great picture too S2M!
The Busboy - December 28 2004 - 10:59

I agree that Professor Lupin as a werewolf looked more like a wet greyhound. Interesting that Sirius Black in his dog form looked more like a big black wolf!
BlueEyesWolf - December 29 2004 - 03:41

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