Movie Reviews

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

*** / ****
Dir: Alfonso CuarĂ³n
2004 Color English
Rated PG for frightening moments, creature violence and mild language.
IMDB Site | Official Site

Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban prison. He’s been convicted of murder and rumor is that he’s headed to the Hogwart’s School. The heads of the prison have sent Dementors to the school to keep an eye out for Black, but promising to stay out of the way of the normal school activities. So figuratively and literally a cloud hangs over Harry, Hermione, and Ron as they embark on their third year.

The Harry Potter series is vastly entertaining for people of all ages, and this sequel stays true to form. One must not delve too deeply when looking at a movie of this type, but it is nice to note that this movie is smartly directed, well acted (even the kids!), and quite simply well made. Sure it is not going to have everything the Pottermaniac wants from the books, but for someone like me, a lay person, I enjoyed it. I made sure not to repeat the mistake I made with the last film (2002’s Chamber of Secrets) and avoided the book and any plot descriptions before I saw the movie. I think it really helped my enjoyment of the film. I was able to watch it with my whole attention and not spend part of the time wondering where this scene is or what happened to that.

You do almost wish that they could just make the books into movies and not have to leave anything out. The books are just so layered and engrossing that it is almost a shame. It is a tribute to the director and the producers that they can whittle it down to movie running time and still make a good product.

In the other character department, Michael Gambon has taken over for the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore. He’s a bit too healthy for me. I enjoyed Hariss’ frail, yet still powerful (a la Yoda) interpretation better.

One last thing I enjoyed is that despite the lack of screen time devoted to our characters developing, you can really see it happening in the few short glimpses that we see. Hermione is blossoming into a smart witch and Harry is really getting an attitude. It is nice that as the movies progress the characters mature and are not just cardboard cutouts year after year.