Anthony's Film Review
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
The magic and excitement continue in the third Harry Potter adventure...
At this point in the Harry Potter series, the story formula has become very familiar. Once again, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while a central mystery is upon them. Thankfully, the formula hasn't gone stale yet. It still works, even with two notable changes to the cast and crew: Michael Gambon replacing the deceased Richard Harris for the role of Albus Dumbledore and Alfonso Cuarón (known for the adult-oriented Y Tu Mama También) assuming the task of directing after Chris Columbus directed the first two Harry Potter movies.
As the title suggests, the central mystery involves a prisoner. En route to school, Harry learns about Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a murderer who has just escaped from the wizard prison known as Azkaban. Sirius is one whom many people have feared for years, because he is a follower of the evil He Who Must Not Be Named. Harry also finds that dark spirits called Dementors that guard the prison are now out and about, looking for Sirius. However, they can still be deadly to the innocent.
One thing that makes this movie interesting, which was a minor weakness of the first movie, are the scenes in the Hogwarts classes. There is the boring and seemingly useless Divination class taught by Professor Trelawney (Emma Thompson) and Care of Magical Creatures with Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) where he demonstrates a horse-eagle hybrid creature named Buckbeak. In Defense of the Dark Arts, Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) shows the class how to fight a shapeshifting Boggart. For Harry, who may be in danger, Lupin provides an extra lesson with the Patronus spell, which shines a special light to counter darkness.
With the help of the useful Marauder's Map, Harry uncovers the mystery behind the prisoner of Azkaban. He learns something shocking about Sirius Black, though it takes a while for the story to get to this point. Eventually, the story reaches its revealing climax, which is noticeably earlier than expected. The last twenty minutes of the film are actually dedicated to a sequence that still wraps things up in an interesting way.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is not a bad movie. It's still pretty good. The only reason it might not live up to the first two Harry Potter adventures is simply the structure of the plot. Instead of an ascent to a high point, the story seems to go up and down at major points. Otherwise, everything else works. The magic of Harry Potter is still there.
For more information about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
The Harry Potter Films