Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

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Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
Review (8.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

In the third installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the heroic trio of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) return for another year at Hogwart's School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, only to discover that Harry's life it once again being threatened. This time a dangerous villain known as Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison and is on his way to Hogwart's to kill Harry Potter.

The newest Harry Potter movie is filled with much of the same excitement, thrills, magic and special effects of the last movie. Many of the same characters have returned including Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, McGonagall, Hagrid, Snape and Draco Malfoy. Professor Dumbledore is now played by Michael Gambon, who replaces the late Richard Harris. We are also introduced to two new key players - the mysterious Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) and the rather unorthodox Professor Trelawney (Emma Thompson).

Despite having never read a Harry Potter book and not being overwhelmed by the first two movies, I found myself extremely entertained by The Prisoner of Azkaban. Director Alfonso Cuaron's interpretation of the Harry Potter novel is a lot darker than the previous movies and after speaking to a friend who has read the book, it seems Cuaron did not find it necessary to include every single last detail from the book in the movie. Some may find this a positive and other fans may have a problem with this. I have to admit there were a few things in the movie that I found slightly confusing that people who read the book will be sure to understand. In the end, what we get is a movie that is not as painfully long as its predecessors, which is really a good thing for the movie's number one audience - the kids.

Besides the darker tone of the movie, Cuaron adds some other subtle touches to the movie. It seems the characters in the movie (particularly Harry, Ron and Hermione) spent a lot more time in muggles clothing and not in the traditional wizard outfits that they had previously worn. The special effects in the movie are excellent - I particularly liked the Hippogrif (some kind of flying horse) and the scene with the Knight Bus. Some of the old characters in the movie received very little screen time (McGonagall, Dumbledore and Snape come to mind) as much of the film focused on Harry and his two friends. The new Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) did not possess the same commanding screen presence as he did when he was played by Richard Harris, but Gambon was still decent.

Overall, I would still strongly recommend Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It is a fun movie, it moves at a good pace, it is intense at times and it really does have a great new look to it. There are also some significant plot developments as we learn more about the deaths of Harry's parents and we witness what appears to be a budding relationship between Ron and Hermione. The new cast members - particularly Gary Oldman, David Thewlis and Emma Thompson - are excellent. There is just so much to like about this movie. And for those who are worried about the effects of an aging Daniel Radcliffe and the other young kids from the film, well, except fo the end of the movie, you will probably barely notice. Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy was the only one who's changing appearance really stood out but it was not a noticeable problem. Fans of the Harry Potter franchise, whether it be the books or the movies, should be pleased with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Although expectations are always high for a movie of such magnitude, after seeing the newest Harry Potter movie, I strongly believe that this movie will satisfy one and all.

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