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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


This is Harry's 3rd year at Hogwart's. Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban prison and after Harry. Along with the usual cast of characters, he's also got to deal with classes, his rivalry with Draco Malfoy, and a host of new teachers: Prof. Trelawney for Divination, Hagrid for Magical Creatures, and the mysterious Prof. Lupin for Defense Against the Dark Arts.

What I Thought


This is what a Harry Potter movie should be. Excellent excellent excellent. The critics are right when they laud Alfonso Cuaron for re-imagining Prisoner of Azkaban as a darker, scarier, more dangerous world for Harry. The colors are darker, there are fewer golds and more silvers, greys. The outside scenes don't have that cutesy aura and instead feel a bit more wild. It's like the difference between being in a sanitized state park and being in the middle of nowhere when you don't know if there's a snake or a scorpion hiding under the bushes.

The Hogwarts grounds have been a little redone (most of the sets are actually the same), the grounds are more hilly, more dangerous, older. Again, less cutesy, more rundown. You get more of a sense of age, and the school looks more like an actual castle. I like this look.

The kids are excellent. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) is getting better at nuance. His changing face in the final scene at the lake (the second time) shows a subtle shift of realization as he figures things out, and it's wonderful to see. Likewise for Emma Watson (Hermione). They're all more relaxed, looser in their roles and much less wooden. I guess "much less wooden" doesn't sound like a compliment, but it is. They're no Olivier, but they do the job well.

Speaking of which, is "Hermione" a real British name or did Rowling make it up? I will always object to how they pronounce it in the movies. I prefer Her-me-own rather than Her-my-o-knee. Just wondering.

I did a little research and found that ALL the actors from the previous movies play the same characters. So Crabbe and Goyle, Malfoy, Longbottom, etc., are played by the same characters. I bring that up because some look SO different, you think they're actually not the same actors. But they are, they sure do grow up fast.

Oy, I could say many more good things about this movie. Buckbeak the Hippogriff! Excellent! They finally moved away from the cheap-looking special effects! Professor Lupin! Where did this actor come from? He's wonderful and perfect!

And, of course, who can't love Alan Rickman (Snape) and Maggie Smith (McGonagall). Give them MORE TO DO! Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney! Brilliant! (As Ron would say.) Fred and George (Ron's twin brothers) in their brief appearances are funny as well. The new Dumbledore is alright, I actually like him more than Richard Harris, who's voice was a little too raspy and breathless. But just like with the other adult actors, not enough screentime.

Before you think all is right with the world, there are some MINOR negatives in the film:

1) I was most disappointed with Peter "overacting" Pettigrew. They made him look like a reject from a made-for-TV Sci Fi movie with cheap makeup. He should have been a bit less buffoonish. Just my opinion. When we finally met him, I was quite disappointed.

2) Ron (his usual hilarious self!) had much less to do here. I'm worried now that with the next few movies, major characters like Ron will get less screentime since other characters may edge them out to move the plot along. Directors cut anyone? Or maybe Harry Potter IV Part 1 and 2?

3) Whatever happened to the Divination girls? Parvati, Lavender, and company? This all got completely excised from the movie. Granted, it wasn't the main plotline. (Although we DO see Parvati when Lupin tells her to go after the boggart.)

4) No explanation of Mooney, Prongs, Padfoot, and Wormtail, and all that entails (the significance of the stag patronus, animagi, etc.)

As opposed to the other two movies, this is much more of a "highlights" movie, relying a bit on the fact that everyone in the audience has already read the books. Though this isn't really a negative. You just can't fit it all in without watering things down *cough* *previous two movies* *cough*.

By the way, have you read them yet? GO READ THEM. Now. NOW. I mean it.

To give you an opposing wrong opinion, my movie companion (who hasn't read any of the books, isn't really into sci fi, and suffered through the Lord of the Rings) wasn't all that impressed with this movie. Yes, he agrees it was much better done than the first two movies (take THAT Chris Columbus!), but it was too repetitive and a little boring. But what does he know anyway.

So if you're a Harry Potter fan, want a movie that does the story justice, this is it. A visual treat, good acting, pretty good special effects, a great cast, a wonderful storyline, and an amazing director. There you go.


I forgot to mention the sucky animatronics. Not too much, but they built a Scabbers, Crookshanks, and a Buckbeak. Bloody aweful.


All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.