Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Hermione Prisoner of Azkaban

Exactly ten years ago today I was sitting in the back of a crowded movie theater waiting for magic to happen. As a teenager, I was already deeply entrenched in the Harry Potter pandemonium. The first book arrived in Scholastic catalogs and book fairs when I was in elementary school, and I prided my little, insufferable overachieving self on finishing the latest installments in the the series as soon as they came out to get bonus reading points at school. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was an event that every child looked forward to, the culmination of our carefully spent hours poring over pages and devouring J.K. Rowling’s words finally being brought to life on the big screen. Would Hogwarts be the magical world we’d been escaping to for the past few years? Would the mythical beasts and spells and potions and charms all remain intact while making the leap to movies? Would the characters we’d grown so invested in match our expectations? For young girls, the personification of Hermione Granger on screen was especially noteworthy. As the prominent female role in the story, she was never designated as a sidekick, never belittled as a love interest, always had the better tricks up her sleeves and never backed down when she knew she was right —even when she had a pack of insipid boys telling her how annoying she could be. She was familiar and inspirational, a muse with terrible hair and a magic wand, and when the first film […]

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In a move that would make Walt Disney cheer from his cryochamber, Warner Bros has announced they will halt all shipments of the Harry Potter films starting December 29th. Existing copies will be allowed to sell out, but once they’re gone the eight films will no longer be available for sale. Per Deadline Azkaban, WB is taking a page from the Disney playbook and pulling all eight films from circulation on that date. It doesn’t appear that they’ll actually remove unsold product from store shelves but instead will just stop shipping new orders. What’s interesting is that the final film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, doesn’t hit shelves until November 11th, meaning it will only be available for six weeks before the moratorium starts. Obviously WB will flood stores with copies of the title, so no one should worry about not finding it for sale, but this window of availability is incredibly small for such a major title. Like Disney has done repeatedly with their animated titles, WB is hoping to increase demand for the franchise by decreasing the supply. My guess is next November will see a marketing blitz announcing special editions, box sets, and more available for a limited time only. There’s little chance this will backfire for the studio, but will it actually increase sales? Is the draw of the series the same as it is for classic Disney films like Dumbo and The Lion King? We’ll all find out next […]

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The best thing to do if you find yourself traveling through time is to go back in time and tell yourself to never travel through time, because you’re almost certainly going to fuck something up. For more advice on time travel, hop in your time machine and re-read this paragraph. Done? Okay. Now, assuming time travel really did work, there are multiple theories on the hows and whys. I could get really detailed on each, but I have a word limit and, like most Americans, I’m terrible at science (and please keep that in mind if I mess up any of the science in the rest of this article). I count myself lucky that my school even taught me evolution at this point. But one of the most compelling models of time travel is that of the closed time loop. In a closed time loop, time is immutable and there are no alternate timelines. You can’t change time because you already traveled back in time before. You always hopped in that time machine to go have one last bottle of Crystal Pepsi. It’s already a part of history (just like Crystal Pepsi, sadly). Yes, that does mean that in the normal flow of time, you popped in from the not-yet-defined “future”, drank your Crystal Pepsi, and disappeared again, creating a paradox that would only be solved when you built the time machine and… yeah, let’s not get into all that. The point is, closed time loops can lead to some […]

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Culture Warrior

That the final Harry Potter film became the biggest opening weekend of all time seemed only natural and inevitable. Something so monumentally culturally pervasive could have only gone out with a loud bang. After all, it is – as I’ve been repeatedly reminded – the most successful movie franchise of all time, adapted from a series of books whose sales history rivals that of The Holy Bible. Yet unlike some head scratch-inducing huge opening weekends of the more uninspired entries of blockbusting franchises who rival Harry Potter in their monetary intake but not their longevity (Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) and the former reigning champ whose buzz was accompanied by fascination with the untimely death of a star (The Dark Knight), the mass participation in the cultural event that was the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2 won’t likely be rivaled anytime soon. The Harry Potter films simultaneously represent the inevitable logical extent of franchise filmmaking as much as it is exceptional and anomalous in this same regard.

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Every so often, a film emerges from the fray to prove its popularity and warrant a sequel. More and more, franchises are planned out in advance, but when one film turns into a franchise, a cash register sound goes off in the ears of the studio. Even though the kid stays in the picture, sometimes the director does not. Maybe the director is done working with the material. Maybe the producers want a more seasoned hand. Maybe a simple schedule conflict keeps him or her out of the chair for the next round up. But the show must go on, so the producers find another director to fill the slot – a director who ostensibly inherits all the strengths and weaknesses of a franchise birthed by someone else. Cinematic sloppy seconds that could have easily turned into sloppy sequels if it weren’t for a steady, talented director guiding the ship. Here’s a list of the ten best.

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Just over 3,000 films were released in the past ten years. Instead of sleeping, Neil and Cole (with the help of a supercomputer) whittle that list down to the best 1%.

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This week Landon watched Harry Potter 1-5 in a row, and wants to share with you every passing thought he had along the way.

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Due to Daylight Saving Time, I actually got the Sunday Cinematic Listology loaded on Sunday. Thanks arbitrary temporal shift! In this edition, we respond to Christopher Nolan’s assertion that there are no good third movies.

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The Seven Greatest Movies with Cop Out Endings

We here in the fancy, cavier-filled world of online movie criticism know that the phrase “Deus Ex Machina” is Latin for “He Who Smelt It, Dealt It,” a concept that can apply to the endings of a number of great films.

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