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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - 2004

Wow, I feel like I am starting to get a bit repetitive with these Harry Potter reviews, as I am giving basically all of them the same rating. But, I suppose they are all fairly equal films for the most part, so there's not much else to do. Often known as "the one when things got darker", the Prisoner of Azkaban is the most acclaimed of all the Harry Potter films, aside from the almost universally positive Deathly Hallows Part 2. I must disagree with the first statement though. Yes, there is a director change starting this film, going from Chris Columbus to Alfonso Cuaron, and unfortunately this is a bad change I think. I still stand by my original opinion that Chris Columbus was the best overall choice to direct the film, in fact, I found the Sorcerer's Stone to be highly underrated. That is not to say Cuaron does a bad job, as he does well, but I suppose his style just was not traditional like the first two, which is something I really enjoyed. The Prisoner of Azkaban does, however, have one of the better story lines in all of the franchise.

After his aunt makes an attack on his father's character, Harry cannot control his rage and blows her up like a balloon, publicly sending her off into the sky for all to see. This, of course gets plenty attention from the head officials in the wizardry world. But Harry is surprisingly not expelled, and is only immediately sent to Hogwart's, being re-united with his dear friends Hermione and Ron. There is a dark and terrifying problem for Harry though, Sirius Black has become the first person to escape from Azkaban and is said to be looking for Harry with intentions of harm. Naturally, our friends are sent off onto another journey leading us that much closer to Voldemort, while learning all the more about Harry's past and family.

As much as I enjoyed the Prisoner of Azkaban, I have to say I did not think it was anywhere close to the best film of the series. In all honesty, it isn't that much darker than the first two, if at all darker. The biggest difference is Cuaron modern directing style. But, there is no denying that he does very well with the film. His direction is very clean, and holds together well throughout the entire movie. However, in the beginning especially, I feel that the entire feel of the movie was just a bit too silly. Though when Sirius Black starts to come into the picture everything is fixed.

The story is very interesting, and I think a lot of strong character development started in this film. Warping through time, the friendship between Harry and Hermione is much stronger in this film than in any of the previous ones. That's really my favorite part of the whole franchise. People can say the franchises dazzling visuals are the most enjoyable part, or the magical story, etc. But I personally enjoy the friendship between our three heroes the most. It's why the series has worked so well, and it's why people are walking away from the newest film with teary eyes.

Steve Kloves' screenwriting is brilliant. It is a wonder to me how they scored him to write for every film, except of course for the fifth. He has taken the magical creation of J.K. Rowling, which I should probably sometime read, and brought it to life onto the screen. In my opinion one of the hardest things for filmmakers to do is take a book and make it into a movie, I suppose I cannot actually comment on the accuracy of the series though. Either way, Kloves, along with his four different director teammates, has done an exceptional job working with this franchise, and has brought these stories to life beautifully.

Artistically, the Prisoner of Azkaban is brilliant. The special effects are not quite as needy as they are in some of the other films, but the cinematography is undeniably stunning. The flight sequence with Harry and the hippogriff is incredible, an absolute delight to watch, even if I think the actual animal could have looked a little more realistic.

The acting was fantastic. In fact, I think Daniel Radcliffe's performance in the Prisoner of Azkaban is far better than his in the Goblet of Fire. Not to say that it is bad in the fourth film, just not as good. Harry is particularly strong on an emotional level, and that is exactly what impressed me the most about his performance in this film. Maybe not his best overall for the franchise, but still a solid outing by him.
Emma Watson continues to impress me, and if I am being honest I don't think she has really had a bad performance in any of the films. Rupert Grint was good as always, and it never ceases to amaze me how similar his character is to me. His fear of spiders really makes me feel like i'm not alone in the world. He always makes me laugh, and I always enjoy watching him onscreen.

Overall, the Prisoner of Azkaban is not the best Harry Potter film, but no doubt an enjoyable one. With fairly strong acting by the leads and supporters alike, beautiful cinematography, and a great story even people who are not fans of the series will enjoy this film.

Rating: 8/10


  1. Great review. This is probably my fourth favorite behind Deathly Hallows 1 & 2 and Goblet of Fire.

  2. I liked it alot, but then again I liked all of them. They are just so amazing!

  3. good review, I thought it was OK, but not as good as the other non-goblet-of-fire potter movies

  4. Great review. I love this one.

  5. The last is my favorite. Thanks.