Something wicked this way comes.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a 2004 fantasy film directed by Alfonso Cuarón, written by Steve Kloves, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, Heyday Films, and 1492 Pictures, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is based on the 1999 novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. The film was nominated for Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects, but did not win either. This is the third film in the Harry Potter series. It was preceded by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and succeeded by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
"EXPECTO PATRONUM!" -Harry Potter
In Harry's third year of Hogwarts, he is immediately met with grave danger. Sirius Black, a violent and murderous supporter of Lord Voldemort, has escaped from Azkaban prison. As Harry learns to cope with his immense fear of dementors through a new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher, Black makes his way towards Hogwarts. When new secrets are revealed, Harry worries for his safety, wondering if Black is coming after him.
I think that, out of the Harry Potter movies, Prisoner of Azkaban easily has the best story. It has adds a thrilling aspect to the Wizarding World that we haven't seen in Sorcerer's Stone or Chamber of Secrets. It sets the stage for the future of the Harry Potter story, which gets progressively darker as the movies go on. The first two movies were mostly mystery movies; there was something suspicious going on at Hogwarts and some evil figure is behind it all and is endangering the Wizarding World. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all trying to figure it out and eventually do, saving Hogwarts and probably a couple of lives. This movie has a clear-cut conflict from the beginning and is more urgent than any of the other films. Sirius Black is one of the more compelling antagonists in the Harry Potter series, until it is revealed that he isn't really the villain. Although based off of J.K. Rowling's original story, the cast and crew cleanly swept it up onto the screen, making the story just as good as it is in the pages of her novel.
This movie was released two years after Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and that is very evident. Our main trio has greatly improved in acting quality. The movie has a darker and more mature vibe and tone than the first two had. Like I said, this movie sets the stage for the darker part of the films, and it started with a directorial change, which was an incredibly smart move by the studio. J.K. Rowling said that each of her novels is meant for the ages of the characters; Sorcerer's Stone is meant for 11 year olds, Chamber of Secrets is meant for 12 year olds, and so on so forth. That is the case as well with the movies. The audience can feel the change from a cheesier kids universe to a darker, more young adult universe.
The quality in acting has a massive leap from Chamber of Secrets to Prisoner of Azkaban. Daniel Radcliffe takes on a certain intensity that he has to as Harry, because Harry is put in a more serious and personal situation in this film. Rupert Grint is a little bit less cringy and acts like more of a teenager who keeps getting in arguments with Hermione. Emma Watson went from completely corny and being a know-it-all to a caring and emotional friend who can be a little bit bossy at times. There were a couple of new actors that we got in this film. First, you have to talk about the casting of Gary Oldman as Sirius Black. Fantastic job by the crew to get him to play this character. Oldman does a great job. He balances the menacing and crazy part of Sirius with the very human aspect of a person being trapped in a soul-sucking prison for 12 years. David Thewlis as Remus Lupin feels like the only realistic teacher at Hogwarts; a good teacher that cares about his students and doesn't put them in life-threatening conditions. Finally, I do like Michael Gambon a lot better than Richard Harris. While I do realize that Gambon was only cast as Dumbledore because of Harris' untimely passing, I ultimately think that he fits the character better. He can be intense but also calm, while it felt like Harris' portrayal of the character could really only be quiet and calm. This is, so far, the best acted movie in the series.
The world-building rivals Sorcerer's Stone in this. First, and most obvious, we get the dementors, who are these horrifying and nasty creatures that are meant to scare the audience. We get three amazing new characters with Lupin, Sirius, and Wormtail. They are all huge characters in the future films and they all have their own fun character traits that all Harry Potter fans love. We get the first look at werewolves in the Wizarding World. They visit Hogsmeade for the first time. Time-Turners are first seen in this. There is so much that is new and exhilarating for an audience, and I absolutely love it.
Finally, I think that the final thirty minutes of the film are fantastic. We get the little twist of Sirius being good and Peter Pettigrew being the true villain. Sirius emerges as more of a human character instead of the evil killer we thought he was. Lupin becomes a werewolf and nearly kills everyone. The dementor's kiss is one of the most brutally dark scenes in the franchise. The idea of a lifeless, dark creature sucking out your soul does feel like a fate worse than death, and the filmmakers put that on full display. Then we get the entire time travel thing with Harry and Hermione, which is great to watch and explains a ton of strange things that had happened throughout the film. I feel like we see time travel in movies a lot when they are happening for the first time. But in this one, we see that the time travel has had been happening throughout the movie. We just haven't noticed it. If that makes sense, great. If it doesn't, sorry.
There's nothing too negative that I have on this movie. The biggest thing is that the movie expects you to have read the books. I have, so I understood some of the things that they didn't mention, but there are people who watch the movies without having read the books. In the movie, they never address that Lupin, Sirius, Pettigrew, and James are the Marauders, but they refer to Pettigrew as Wormtail later in the series. There are other things that don't really add up if you haven't read the books. I understand that a lot of people have, but for those select few that haven't, that'd be frustrating.
I also think that this movie is inconsistent along with the others. I am mainly talking about the first ten minutes, when Harry is clearly using magic outside of school. That is displayed as very illegal in the Wizarding World, but Cornelius Fudge brushes it off, even though Harry almost killed his adoptive aunt. In Chamber of Secrets, Harry got in trouble for using magic even though it was Dobby who did it, not Harry. This happens throughout the series, where magical rules are inconsistent, and it can be frustrating if you're like me and actually care about that.
This movie doesn't really do anything bad. I mentioned the two big problems that I have with it, but everything else is pretty good as far as I know. However, I'm not going to give it a Sweet rating, because it doesn't do anything incredibly awesome. There are scenes here and there that are amazing, but it doesn't blow your mind. That isn't to say that this is not a good movie. This movie is great. It just isn't one of the best.
The third installment in Harry's journey is definitely one of the best. A fantastic climax, great new characters, and some perfect world-building overshadow the few flaws that this movie has.
I will give it a Savory rating. Age range is 9+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
Fun Factor: 8.5/10
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Rated PG for some scary images, disturbing themes, fantastical violence and action
Released on June 4, 2004
2 hours and 22 minutes
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom