Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Movie PosterDirected by Alfonso Cuarón

Those of you who haven’t read my two previous reviews on the Harry Potter movies, check them out here for HP1 and here for HP2.

After the first two Harry Potter movies caused an unprecedented trend, Harry Potter is back again with a third movie based on J.K. Rowling’s novel. The book and movie franchise altogether have broken various records in many different countries worldwide. Directed by a new face, well-known from Y tu mamá también, with generally the same cast and another original storyline: how good is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban really?

The movie starts with Harry escaping the wrath of the Dursleys, his closest relatives. His journey to Hogwarts seems like an epic adventure itself and when he finally arrives things get really complicated at school: there is a murderer named Sirius Black on the loose. Watch out kids! He has just escaped from Azkaban and is coming for the one and only Harry Potter. How cruel of him.

Meanwhile Harry and we, the audience, get to know the world of witchcraft and wizardry a lot better than we have seen before. We are introduced to creatures like the Monster book, Buckbeak the Hippogriff and the Grimm. We come to know new teachers at Hogwarts like Trelawney and Professor Lupin of  the Defence Against The Dark Arts lessons. From the looks of it, Harry’s adventure is going to be worthwhile.

Unfortunately, things have turned out rather worse than expected, or perhaps my expectations were too high? Anyway, the point is that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is just a solid rental.

Harry Potter is going through puberty: he is finally becoming an adult. That is an exciting phase in character development, right? A lot of things can happen —  as Rowling beautifully put into words, the relation between Harry and his friends are more dramatic now everyone is older. We can clearly see that come true on the screen. There certainly is a darker atmosphere surrounding Hogwarts and it affects all of the characters in how they interact and deal with particular events.

All this is supported and ultimately achieved through excellent visuals. The sight of the Dementors (soulless creatures that want to suck the happiness out of you) surrounding Hogwarts, the natural setting including the Tree and the Forbidden Forest and the scenery in general took my breath away.

So what is wrong with the movie then? Well, the plot is to blame for all. With a terribly cheesy and repetitive story, with a lot of emphasis, conversations get boring. Because some part of the movie has to do with time travel, your desire to understand the complexities of this vague phenomenon as far as the chronology of events left me disappointed.

But I have to admit that it depends on your own personal preferences: do you prefer story or visuals? I was really excited to see both, but Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban truly lacks the good and comprehensive storyline and focuses more on the world of Hogwarts. It is like a background documentary for people who have read the books. For them this movie should be IT. For those who just stumble by chance on this third Harry Potter movie: don’t get your hopes up, get’em straight.

C

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5 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

  1. Pingback: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire | Elemental Reviews

  2. I thought it was by far the best film in the series. It showed more depth towards the human condition through new relationships and talk of the past. The stunning score by John Williams, particularly ‘A Window to the Past,’ always gives me chills. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s by far the most mature of the series. Always gets me quite emotional. Great review 🙂

    • Thanks Ben. I really liked the part about Harry’s father and his time on Hogwarts, but other than that, I think it depends on the person watching. I have read every book in the franchise at least more than once and for me this third movie didn’t add anything interesting (after my fourth time watching it LOL) other than the exceptional visuals and as you mentioned the score by Williams. I wasn’t initially so fond about the time travel thing, because it’s unexplainable (even in a magical world) and weak storytelling at the very least.

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