1. The movie is insensitive to global environmental concerns.
Was it just us, or did anyone else note the amount of water that appeared in the movie? As we consider the ravaging effects of global warming (or is it the forthcoming arrival of the next ice age, locking the planet's water into the polar ice caps?), many parts of the planet are currently experiencing drought conditions.
You'd think that a little bit of consideration could have been shown for those who are water-deficient.
2. The depiction of the dementors is inappropriate.
It's only a matter of time before the Human Rights Commission investigates the slur cast on these beings. Although not strictly speaking "human", every salient being has "economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality" (Universal Declaration, Article 22). After all, even those responsible for library funding are protected by Human Rights. (At least, at the moment. We're working on that one.)
Although the blame for the lack of personal growth in relation to the dementors could be laid squarely at the feet of the original author, this really should have been addressed in the movie. But it's not too late! Maybe the next sequel could show dementors in a more positive light. Which is more than can be said for the library funding decision-makers.
3. Alternate guardianship arrangements are denigrated.
Can you imagine carefully planning your life around having only one child who you could spoil rotten, then being landed with a second one - belonging to relatives you always thought were weird anyway?
Not everyone in this world is Mother Teresa. The Dursleys should be cut some slack here, and a little more empathy shown for the predicament they find themselves in. A cupboard under the stairs may not be the most luxurious of accommodation, but it sure beats sleeping in a cardboard box in a subway somewhere. And of course in this movie Harry has been upgraded to an actual room above stairs.
4. Adult Abuse is NEVER acceptable.
Sure, it might start as a practical joke like a whoopee cushion on Grandma's rocking chair or blackening toothpaste in the parents' bathroom, but where does it stop? OK, maybe the folks are a little heavy on the punitive actions and a little light on the TLC, but children should be brought up to remember that "it's for their own good"; "it never did [the adults] any harm; and of course "just wait until you have children of your own - then you'll understand".
5. What happened to the Hogwarts' Library?
There are now hundreds of websites called "Hogwarts' Library" - some of them actually worth looking at. But Azkaban seems to have not acknowledged that it's these little glimpses of libraries in movies that gives joy and hope to millions of librarians around the world.
Although the library didn't get a mention in the Azkaban book, there was surely a spare 80 seconds of footage time that could have been slotted in somewhere for the world's librarians? Particularly as so much of the original book was left out anyway.
6. A golden opportunity to promote information literacy was lost.
Library media specialists, teacher librarians, and other professionals with an interest in information access, evaluation and usage will lament the absence of even a few seconds of informative instruction.
As edutainment and the infomercial are both now integral to contemporary popular culture, it wouldn't have been very difficult to work a suitable scene into the movie.
7. Book abuse is completely ignored.
Given that many of the audience will be school-age children, it is disgraceful that books with dog-eared pages should appear in scenes such as this one, without even a reprimand from the teacher. Who, in this case was the otherwise strict Professor Snape. Clearly, the producer and director have managed to sneak this social commentary past the censors.
If they think that they can get away with this, they are sadly mistaken. Letters are currently being written by a number of library associations on the future implications for library repair and replacement budgeting.
8. Pink? We think not!
What was the wardrobe department thinking?!!! Pink per se might be acceptable in some circles, but really darlings, check out the tone of that particular little number. And with a hood, no less. We would have recommended something in apricot chiffon, perhaps with a Hermes scarf and matching clutch purse. So easy to dress up, or down, for the cocktail circuit or casual lunching in one of the better restaurants. [This comment was provided by the WLW Fashion Advisory Council].
9. Notable casting mistakes.
Although the cast reads like a who's who of British cinema, the film does not cater for those parents who are only there because they got blackmailed into it after they forgot the promises made when the last film came out when they couldn't bear the thought of sitting in a crowded theatre full of other people's kids crunching dentally-detrimental snacks, and running in and out to the rest rooms every thirty seconds, and crying when anything even remotely spooky happens. Which they experienced when the first Harry Potter movie was released. Some things you never forget.
At the very least, something should have been provided for those parents or relatives who are in attendance only under sufferance.
A.B. Credaro © 2004