142 Min. | Adventure – Family – Fantasy | May 2004
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Staring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Review: Appropriately, this third film in the Harry Potter series has matured along with it’s young stars. At first glance the storyline itself is relatively simple – Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban Prison and young Harry is on his hit list. But the reality is that ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ is about being a teenager and all the trials and tribulations that go with it. On one level, Harry is like any other kid at school – he puts up with torment from bullies, gets into scrapes with his teachers and hangs out with his friends. But this is not just any school. This is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Harry has a whole other set of problems. Like an escaped madman who may just want to kill him, for example.
The plot of ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, contains the requisite amounts of twists and turns. The focus is on Harry’s past – Sirius Black was his godfather but just may have been in league with he who’s name cannot be mentioned. There is the usual game of ‘are they or aren’t they?’ when it comes to deciding which characters are really the baddies. Alan Rickman continues to walk the finest of lines between good and bad with his marvelous performance as Professor Snape. Has there ever been a better match of actor and character? Snape shows again that, while he may take occasional delight in making his students’ lives difficult, he does have their best interests at heart – like any good teacher. Visually, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ is a much darker film and it is a sumptuous treat for the eyes.
New cast members acquit themselves well. The role of Sirius Black was tailor made for Gary Oldman – he has a requisite creepiness with just a dose of humanity to bring the character to life. Emma Thompson is amusing as a Divinination professor with bad eyesight. She can see into the future but can’t tell which students are falling asleep in her class! Many have criticised Michael Gambon’s performance as Dumbledore. While it’s true that he is no Richard Harris. Gambon is accomplished enough a performer to stay true to the character while at the same time putting his own stamp on it. Take away the magic and monsters, and what you have is a coming of age movie. Harry is forced to grow up and confront both his past and his future, and come to terms with the reality that he is no ordinary wizard. With the spectra of ‘you know who’ continuing to loom on the horizon, roll on film four! Overall, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ is worth to watch.