Before The Deathly Hallows begins the end of the Potter films, we decided to look back at the films, from their beginnings trapped within the pages of JK Rowling’s books to the emerging of an original identity on the screen.
1. The Prisoner of Azkaban 2004
In a near tie for first place, The Prisoner of Azkaban makes its way to the top for being the first Potter film to not only hold its own against the books, but break out from them and create an identity of its own. The first film to finally stylize the setting using clever cinematography, narrative rhythm and creative art direction came as a surprise to fans. It was much darker, more mature and more enthralling than the previous installments. See the opening scene that hints at masturbation for further proof. Much of this is attributed to director Alfonso Cuaron, who previously directed the Spanish youth sex odyssey Y Tu Mama Tambien before attacking this adaptation. Guillermo del Torro and Marc Foster turned down the project, fearing it was too happy and full of light. Luckily Cuaron found the gloom and realism even in the magical world of Hogwarts.
2. The Order of the Phoenix 2007
Just like The Prisoner of Azkaban redefined the way the Harry Potter world would be told and constructed, The Order of the Phoenix built on those changes, exploring what an even larger budget, larger sets and more visual effects could do for the story. David Yates was the perfect person to take over the rest of the series and handle the edge and seriousness the rest of the story had to offer. With a story drawing on really interesting themes like repression and rebellion, it’s about as fun and appropriate as it gets for a struggling-to-grow-up story.
The Hurt Locker Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow Written by: Mark Boal Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Ralph Fiennes
The Hurt Locker is that little military movie in the summer you didn’t see because you’d rather have watched Transformers 2 for the third and fourth time in a row. But I wouldn’t put myself on any pedestal, I didn’t see The Hurt Locker until it came out on DVD after garnering a plethora of critic groups awards and Golden Globe nominations, hoping the hype for Hurt was worth the watch. It is the movie against all odds, small budget in a big summer, female director in an industry run by men, an Iraqi war setting in the age of modern war movies being serious taboo, The Hurt Locker overcomes those obstacles, but not with the blast of fierce action as critics promise. Instead, it’s defused and delivered with a slow burning tension which is rare among war movies.
The film follows the reckless Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) as he steps up to head a bomb squad unit serving in Baghdad. His unusual and ballsy methods are not only cause trouble for the squad, but often is responsible for their ability to overcome some of the great obstacles they face. Their journey is a journey with no destination of place, but that of time. Each day survived is one day closer to them returning to home to their wives and families. The plot appears to follow the conventions of a typical modern war film, but The Hurt Locker is far from that. Taking unexpected turns and leaving politics aside, director Katherine Bigelow explores deep into what makes these characters tick, sans all the standard patriotic “I love my country” bullshit.