With people at home raving to me about how they'll be watching the upcoming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie, I decided to finally watch the third installment.

I'd been turned off from the movies because the second film had been somewhat disgraceful. Simply too little time had been spent developing the characters, expecially the exceptionally narcissistic Defense against the Dark Arts professor. I can't say it was horrid, just disgraceful.

The Prisoner of Azkaban started well, with the usual "Behold the Dursley's and their insistance on being wordly fuddy-duddies" that starts nearly every book and film. However, the warning bells should have been blaring when I noticed the first in what became a flood of very small things that deviated from the books. Harry left home without Hedwig, something I don't believe happened in the book.

It was early in the film, and I was ready to forgive. There's only so much time, and there's only so much one can do therein.

For a while yet, the movie was good, enjoyable and fun. However, little things like the Hedwig incident kept happening, and a dread of larger things being cut grew larger and larger.

I came to this movie with a clean slate. I had cast away my prejudgements, cast away any thought of this movie would be anything like the second. I sat down and I let myself be entertained. In the end, the battle of Entertainment vs Hollywood Stupidity was won by Hollywood.

Quite simply, some of what I considered to be the best and most important elements of the story were simply cut entirely, even giving rise to possible reprecussions in the next movie. The Marauder's Map is taken by Snape, but at no point does he insinuate anything about Messers Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. Never does Lupin reveal the truth about the map, the shrieking shack, and the Whomping Willow. Never do we find out how Lupin knew anything about the map, how Snape, Lupin, and Sirius knew about the shrieking shack, what the purpose of Trelawney's mysterious prophey was (or that she was even remotely hackish in the first place) and worse things too.

In the books, when Harry sees Lupin for the last time, they have a discussion concerning the events of the night before. Here the greatest and most Christian message of the Harry Potter books is completely omitted. In the movie, Lupin and Harry discuss how Harry's saving of an innocent man made all the difference. In the books, the biggest and most greatest thing Harry did was not save an innocent man, but spare a guilty one. One who was clearly undeserving, unrepentant, and only concerned with his own self. Harry displayed the one trait that the terrible dementors lacked entirely, and he displayed it towards one no one else would have spared.

And this was lost.

I could go on about how the new actor for Dumbledore failed to portray the character in even the faintest similarity, how Harry's Patronus's resemblence to Prongs failed to be discussed. How vital elements of the story were replaced with an extended scene of a purple bus screaming through London. But really, none of that matters compared to the sheer travesty of changing the very nature of the story. Both the major points of forgiveness and how people live on within us are maligned for the sake of saying "Saving innocents is important!"

I think that any shred of my faith in Hollywood to produce a film based on a novel with any accuracy has been long lost. I'm looking to New Zealand from now on, and if that means I won't find out about excellent films until five years after they leave the theatres, so be it.

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