JT Film Review

54- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban REVIEW

4.5/5 stars

Director – Alfonso Cuarón

Cast – Daniel Redcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Griffiths, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall, Julie Christie, Warwick Davis, Julie Walters, Tom Felton

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– follows Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

– followed by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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prisonerofazkaban

Christopher Columbus (director of the previous Harry Potter movies, Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets) hands over the reigns to acclaimed director Alfonso Cuaron. He directed movies such as Y tu mamá también and after Harry Potter he turned out the definitive (in my opinion) dystopian sci-fi movie, Children of Men. It just so happens he has turned out arguably the best Harry Potter movie to date as well.

While the first two Potter films tended to follow the books to a tee, this one takes a few liberties. This gives the movie a sense of speed that is certainly different than the pace of the first two, whose tone was more of a gradual building up to the climax. And while I appreciated that aspect of the first two, this movie certainly makes it own approach work. This film is more lively and more dark, and there is a sense that real harm could happen to the kids here, rather than the more over the top and child-friendly attitude Chris Columbus took.

This is not to say that the movie is all doom and gloom. In fact there is quite a bit of humour throughout. A scene in the beginning in particular, where Harry is picked up by a wizard’s-only double decker bus, has more wit, charm, and thrills than other blockbusters we could mention. The plot has a few twists to it, which keeps us on our toes as to what will happen next.

This is the first time in the series where I truly felt for Harry Potter. His loneliness is brought out well here (both at his relatives home and at Hogwarts, where he is seen as an outsider, and where he must deal with troubles far beyond his maturity level).

harry_potter_and_prisoner_of_azkaban_004The younger actors really come into their own in this installment; Radcliffe is a strangely empathic actor, and Emma Watson starts to feel a bit more natural. However I’ve always found Rupert Grint to be the best actor of the main three, and here I see nothing to change that. This is also the first movie where Michael Gambon replaces Richard Harris as Professor Dumbldore, due to Harris’ death. In my opinion, Michael Gambon is a much better Dumbledore. Harris played it too stiffly, and due to his illness he always seemed that if he had to conjure up anything serious he’d croak. Gambon on the other hand is energetic, serious, and down to earth.

The only real problem I have with the movie is really a fault with the book; and that is the ending. It involves the trickiest and some would say lamest of plot devices, time travel. What always gets me when such a device is used, is… if they can travel through time, why not go back to when the villain was born and kill him? There are just so many ways that time travel could be used in later or earlier books; it raises too many questions. It’s as if Rowling used it here and then forgot it. All-in-all, time travel just opens too many plot holes.

OVERALL

Alfonso Cuaron brings us a sharp, witty, dark, and emotionally involving movie here. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is arguably the best adaptation of any of the Harry Potter books so far. The three main actors do their best work so far here. The effects work is amazing, but doesn’t overwhelm the story. This was the first Potter movie I ever saw, and I doubt if it’s greatness will be beaten. Highly recommended.

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TRAILER

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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October 7, 2009 - Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Fantasy | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] his films are the highly popular Harry Potter series, but he tops it with a high score of 90% for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, with a low of 42% for December […]

    Pingback by Re: Forbes List of Money Generating Stars « JT Film Review | September 1, 2010 | Reply


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