I think it is now a tradition for me to start my Harry Potter movie reviews by announcing: it is time to breathe a sigh of relief. That is only if the movie is at least good, this one was great.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
the Cast: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter): His acting has developed a lot since the last film. He did really well at displaying Harry's anger. Emma Watson (Hermione Granger): Of the main three, her performance was the one I liked the best. If I remember correctly, while reading the third book I started to like Hermione. I liked her for the same reasons in the film as I did in the book, mainly that she is tough. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley): He did not get as much screen time as he did in the last two, but his wonderful wit was ever apparent. David Thewlis (Professor Lupin): I think he did particularly well in portraying Lupin's sad solitude. Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore): He was great at presenting Dumbledore's quirkiness. Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid): He was not in the film very much but he did really well at winning the audience's sympathy, at least for me. Gary Oldman (Sirius Black): It's nice to see the softer side of one of the great villain
actors as is apparent in his scenes with Harry. Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney): She only has two small scenes but Emma played Trelawney for all she's worth. Her performance was hilarious!
the Plot: Sirius Black, known as a vicious criminal, has escaped from Azkaban prison. Harry finds out that Sirius may have had something to do with the death of his parents. The guards of Azkaban, Dementors, are stationed at Hogwarts in order to find Sirius who is looking for Harry.
Book to Film Transition: It has been a long time since I have read the third book. From what I can remember, the main parts of the book are included in the film. However, the important explanation of the names on the cover of the Marauder's Map is not in the film. I would have liked to have seen that included in the film.
Fave Scenes: Even though I saw it so many times on TV, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching Hermione punch Draco. The time travel sequence was great.
Special Effects: The Knight Bus ride through the streets of London was fun. The time travel sequence had an excellent use of accelerated movement.
the Creatures: I think Buckbeak was amazing, there was a lot of detail put into his design. The dementors were very scary. I think the werewolf could have been better but was well done.
the Cinematography: I love that the gorgeous area in which the movie was filmed was shown so magnificently in the camera work. The scene of Buckbeak's flight was wonderful.
the Music: Even though the main theme heard in the previous films is heard in this film, the rest of the score is very different than the first two. I liked the new flavor, especially the Medieval sounding wood wind and the song version of Shakespeare's classic speech of the witches from "Macbeth".
Overall Impression: Alfonso Cuaron excellently took over the reins as director. He brought his own unique style to this installment in the series and I believe it worked. There was an overall sense of darkness throughout yet all the elements of the story were present: the comedy, the suspense, the hints of romance. I am glad that the British-Indian Patil sisters were present in this film, adding to the multicultural student body of Hogwarts. Throughout the viewing I reacted as I should have when a movie works: I was at the edge of my seat during the suspenseful parts, freaking out during the scary parts, and laughing when a joke was made. As a Harry Potter fan, I clapped when my favorite parts of the book were present on screen. It will definitely take at least another viewing to catch all the great things about this film. I am looking forward to it, especially in IMAX format!
Final Score: *****/*****