Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Scott Macdonald's film review of Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
"" | Photo: © 2004 Warner Bros. Ent. Harry Potter Publishing Rights J.K.R.

Disc 1 plays host to the movie and theatrical trailers for all three Potter films thus far. Some brief text-based cast and crew information is also included.

The film-to-tape transfer is good, reproducing the intended muted colour scheme precisely and with outstanding contrast. As expected from such a recent title, the source print is pristine, with no nicks, dirt or dust. Detail is not as well rendered as it could be, and fades have a - there's no other word to describe it - weird problem. It isn't MPEG2 compression artifacting, but there's a lot of noise during fades to and from black. The shadow detail is pretty good, resolving depth and form, especially useful in the nighttime double-climax.

Copy picture

The DVD is also presented in a lively Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix, encoded at the highest bit rate, 448kbps, ideal for appreciating the superbly engineered dub and sound effects work. The music has body and presence and voices are superbly recorded, with the stereo-surround effects plentiful. Very deep bass is also present and will work out your subwoofer. If engaged, EX decoding will reveal a solid back surround channel. Curiously, the audio bit stream does not contain the metadata flagging to engage EX decoding automatically.

Disc 2 is complete with various games to play with your remote control, which I will not bother reviewing. Thankfully there are more substantial filmmaking extras than in previous Potter discs.

There are several deleted scenes, including part of a subplot, whereupon Sirius Black is discovered in the Gryffindor sleeping quarters. Not bad scenes really, but they would have killed the movie's storytelling momentum stone dead.

After this, a featurette containing brief interviews with the filmmakers and author. Nothing especially revealing here except for a few nuggets, such as J K Rowling's hand-drawn map of Hogwarts grounds that became the Bible for the design team.

There's also a featurette involving the creation and digital artistry of the creatures in Azkaban, from the vicious and vaporous Dementors - we learn that underwater puppetry gave way to digital cloth simulations - to the melding of disciplines to create the fantastic Hippogriff. A nice mixture of footage and Behind The Scenes talent talk lends weight to this piece.

Some insubstantial interviews by Johnny Vaughn (and a shrunken head) with the principal cast and filmmakers rounds it all off.

It would be nice to have the Potter films reissued in some sort of Muggle edition, without kiddy games, where everything is deconstructed and good production stories are shared in quality commentaries, documentaries and diaries. The mythology of Harry should get a good once over, too.

After book VII is done and dusted, no doubt. --

Reviewed on: 11 Nov 2004
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Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban packshot
Harry returns to Hogwarts to find he is being pursued by the escaped murderer Sirius Black.
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Product Code: DO28445

Region: 2

Sound: Dolby Digital

Extras: A Selection Of Mystifying Exclusive Never-Before-Seen Footage. Creating The Vision - A Revealing Interview With J.K. Rowling And The Filmmakers. Raucous Interviews With The Cast Lead By Johnny Vaughan And The Shrunken Head. Conjuring A Scene - An In-Depth Look At The Making Of Key Scenes From The Film. Self-Guided iPIX Tours Into Honeydukes And Professor Lupin

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