Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) Poster

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Mischief managed!
BiiivAL5 June 2018
The third film about the young wizard is the most controversial, for it was he who split the fans of the novels about Potter into two warring parties: conservatives and innovators.

The first group of fans absolutely condemned and condemned the actions of the director Cuaron, altered "Harry Potter" in his own way. Say, they did not like the strange werewolf, all sorts of jokes-jokes, interspersed by the director in addition to the script, and in addition to all the claims they discovered the disappearance of the atmosphere of magic, because of which the popular expression of "Quaron in the furnace" was born.

The second group, on the contrary, furiously began to praise Cuaron, extolling him to the unprecedented pedestal of fame, thus creating almost a cult of personality. They liked everything that only they could like in the third film.

Only now it became clear that both sides are not right in their convictions. So it should be, movies must be different in essence. The error crept in from the very beginning: Chris Columbus took the first two films, and this put the old debate on what kind of movies Harry Potter should be about. Columbus did not have to give the right to shoot two films, and one would suffice. Spectators are used to the atmosphere of the first two films, because most of the audience took the innovative approach of Quaron to the screen version of the third novel with bayonets. Now the producers make a mistake again - they give the right to shoot two films (The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince) to the new director David Yates. This should not be done in any case. It is necessary to preserve the diversity of director's visions. Hogwarts is not accidentally depicted in different ways in films, like Hogsmeade. Everything in novels is seen differently every time, because all the reader and viewer sees through the eyes of Harry Potter, and in films through the prism of the director's vision, the viewer must perceive the magical world through the eyes of a young wizard. Alfonso Cuaron still hit the spot with his timely vision of the plot of "The Prisoner of Azkaban."

He created a sparkling tragicomedy for the growing up of a young wizard.

In general, Cuaron's film reminds me of our old Soviet films. For the reason that the whole film can be easily taken away on the shots, quotes, fragments, heroes, soundtracks, etc., etc. Despite everything, this film is much kinder than the previous two, differing in their gloomy Gothic style. It's more fun, crazy, and it should be, because it's Sirius Black himself on the scene!

For the whole of Rowling's novel, like the film of Quaron, is a tribute to the memory of the crazy, hooliganistic and such lonely Sirius Black ... Black, whose heart is beating violently, hot blood flows in his veins, and in the soul is truly dog devotion. The third film, as well as the film, is dedicated to the looters - James Potter (= Harry Potter), Peter Pettigrew, Rimus Lupine and Sirius Black - a group of friends who used to be friends a long time ago ...

The film ruthlessly shows how easy it is to lose friendship and how difficult it is to acquire a friend ...

Thanks to Alfonso Cuaron, who did a talented work, showing in one stroke all the huge gallery of the characters of the magical world and their essence: the Minister of Magic plunges into a puddle; the soothsayer with big glasses on her nose stumbles on her own table; The evil teacher Severus Snape closes the children from the werewolf; eccentric Dumbledore slams his hand over Ron's gnarled leg; Remus Lupine, at the lesson, takes a snack with an apple; portraits of Hogwarts, it turns out, also like to sleep; Stan Shanpike with his brave words is not very strong in dragging student suitcases; Hagrid and ties are incompatible things; Tom from the Leaky Cauldron has a nehyl auto; Ernie, wearing spectacles with large lenses, is led by the "Night Knight"; Sirius Black finally began to talk moral nonsense ... Also it is necessary to thank the new actors, so successfully merged into the old line-up:

Emma Thompson (Sibyl Trelawney); Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore); David Thulis (Remus Lupine); Julie Christie (Madame Rosmerta); Gary Oldman (Sirius Black); Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew) and many others. By the way, if my memory does not change me, then the two actors from the third film (cleaning woman in the bar "Leaky Cauldron" and Aunt Marge) Quaron quietly consigned to his other project - "Child of Man", but that's another story ...

Let me love the fourth film about Harry Potter (director - Mike Newell), but I always revise the Curaron part - it is the brightest of all existing.

In a word, long live Rowling and Cuaron!

"Potter, come back!" (Severus Snape, potions teacher).
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Finally, a movie that captures the books' magic
kylopod25 June 2004
If there's anything this movie proves, it is the difficulty in separating the series from the demands of fans. This is clear just from hearing some of the comments. "Why didn't they identify the names on the Marauder's Map?" "Why wasn't the second Quidditch game shown?" "Why wasn't there more of Crookshanks the Cat?" By focusing on what the film didn't have, fans fail to look at the film on its own terms. I think this is by far the best Harry Potter movie yet.

The only way to satisfy fans would be to include everything from the book, which would require a miniseries. Since that isn't what these films are, the story has to be abridged. The first two films tried to fit everything they could within a reasonable slot of time. The result was a set of films that felt cluttered yet incomplete. Had they continued with this strategy for this movie, based on a much longer book, it would surely have been over three hours long.

The virtue of the latest film is that it makes a real attempt to adapt the story, not just marching in lockstep with the book's events. The screenplay is sparing, leaving out or simplifying loads of details not directly relevant to the plot. But it captures much of the book's delight and humor. The first two films fell short in this regard, because they lacked the guts to tinker with the details, even though that was the key to condensing the story while staying true to its spirit.

The movie is still faithful to the book, of course. Many of the scenes are exactly as I had imagined them. When it deviates, it does so based on an understanding of the story and characters. This is evident in the way they show, for example, the Knight Bus; Hermione's overstuffed schedule; and the introduction of the Marauder's Map, a scene that captures the twins' mischievous personalities. The changes are clever and funny, and they help compensate for the movie's loss in other areas.

Certainly this has something to do with the new director. Columbus's approach was to stick to the books as literally as possible, often draining them of their subtlety. For instance, where the books only hint that Dumbledore can see through the invisibility cloak, the earlier movies make it unmistakable. The new director never condescends to the audience in that way. This is a children's movie, but it is also a fantasy-thriller that we can take seriously, because not everything is spelled out for us. We're given a chance to think.

But part of what makes the movie work is the book itself. The story is gripping from start to finish, because the threat looming over the school is established early on. Harry's personal life is sharply intertwined with the plot. We feel for him as we watch his disastrous (but hilarious) attempts to escape his uncle and aunt, and his humiliating reaction to the dementors. The story avoids common devices such as the talking killer or deus ex machina, which the other books have in abundance. The ending is nicely bittersweet and ambiguous. The plot is so complicated, however, that the book spends several chapters explaining it all. The movie wisely includes only very little of this, allowing the plot twists to become understood as the story progresses. I was surprised to see certain events that were in the movie but not the book lend support to an important theory some fans have had about what is to be revealed at the end of the series. Of course, it is well-hidden and won't give anything away for those who aren't looking for the clues.

I was so satisfied with the film that it almost seems trivial to mention the flaws, but there are some. The portrayal of Fudge's assistant as the standard hunchbacked dimwit is out of place here, as it would be in anything other than a cartoon or spoof. The most serious misstep, though, is the casting of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. Gambon's face seems frozen in a perpetual nonexpression, and his voice lacks resonance. He compares poorly to the late Richard Harris, whose line readings had gravity, and who played the character with a twinkle in his eyes. It is a pure mystery to me why this actor was chosen as a replacement, especially considering the fine performances from other members of the cast. Even the children are in top form here.

Those complaints aside, this is the movie I was hoping they would make when the series began. If it doesn't live up to the book, so what? What's important is that it lives up to its potential as a movie. Fans who want a carbon-copy of the book are looking in the wrong place, because they're never going to get it here. This is probably the best example of a Harry Potter movie that we're ever likely to see.
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A visual feast with bite
madam_Q13 June 2004
Harry Potter is growing up! The voice is deepening, the shoulders are broadening and...hurray! You no longer feel like a creep for having a little crush on Daniel Radcliffe...whoops, did I say that out loud? Say what you will, I see him making the jump from child star to adult actor in a way that Haley Joel Osment only dreams of.

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 this movie 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 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. Other plot quirks worked well - I enjoyed the way the time travel angle was worked in and the map showing the location of everyone in Hogwarts was a delight.

Visually, this is a much darker film and it is a sumptuous treat for the eyes. There is so much incredible detail in the sets that it's impossible to absorb it all in one sitting. All the staples from the other films are there - the paintings talk, the staircases move, ghosts roam the halls - watch out for the knights on horseback crashing through windows! The special effects are all top notch. A word of caution for any parents - there are some genuine scares here. The Dementors are particularly nasty, and I would certainly think twice about letting very young children watch this film. This is without even considering it's running time - two and a half hours - which is a very long time to expect some children to sit still.

One of the most impressive things about this film is the way that the young cast are more sure of themselves. As Hermione, Emma Watson grated in the first film with her occasional woodenness. Pleasingly, she has grown into herself as an actor and her performance here is much more mature. A leading lady of the future, perhaps? Hermione is growing up and is tired of being taken for an irritating goody-two shoes know it all. Rupert Grint provides comic relief and Daniel Radcliffe gives an outstanding performance, considering the whole film rests on his shoulders. Harry is the hero - the audience needs to identify with him. By the end of this film teenage girls will want to take him home to mother, while their mothers will just want to take him home and adopt him!

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. Daniel Thewlis is good as Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts master who takes Harry under his wing. 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, I personally was pleased that he didn't attempt to imitate his predecessor. 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!
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Abstract and dark themes abound; still the most mature HP entry
jpoulter1119 January 2011
Alfonso Cuarón's masterful adaptation does the source material immeasurable justice by exploring its underlying concepts in an intelligent manner. Of course, it certainly helps that the aesthetics of the film are incredible, the acting remains stellar (and the trio of young actors handle their roles admirably), and John Williams offers an amazing (and eclectic) score. Character development is superb - Steve Kloves penned a great script.

First-time and young viewers will likely enjoy the film for its merits based on plot and 'adventure' alone, but it takes multiple viewings and a critical eye to enjoy the abstract ideas and nuances. Cuarón himself credited the source material as being laden with real-world issues: oppression, racism, loneliness, power, friendship, justice and so forth.

This is the Harry Potter film that stands on its own and as a tremendous cinematic achievement. It challenges viewers and yet doesn't patronize them or attempt to offer answers to all of the questions presented. For instance, the ending is bittersweet at best and retains a healthy amount of ambiguity.

If you've never read the books or understood the acclaim of the series as a whole, watch Cuarón's 'Prisoner of Azkaban' and you'll understand why this entry is clearly the zenith of the seven.
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Azkaban is an enthralling, often spellbinding adventure. Worth revisiting, again and again.
callanvass17 December 2010
(Credit IMDb) Harry Potter is having a tough time with his relatives (yet again). He runs away after using magic to inflate Uncle Vernon's sister Marge who was being offensive towards Harry's parents. Initially scared for using magic outside the school, he is pleasantly surprised that he won't be penalized after all. However, he soon learns that a dangerous criminal and Voldemort's trusted aide Sirius Black has escaped from the Azkaban prison and wants to kill Harry to avenge the Dark Lord. To worsen the conditions for Harry, vile shape-shifters called Dementors are appointed to guard the school gates and inexplicably happen to have the most horrible effect on him. Little does Harry know that by the end of this year, many holes in his past (whatever he knows of it) will be filled up and he will have a clearer vision of what the future has in store?

Azkaban is quite possibly the best Potter entry I've seen so far. As an avid fan of the films, but not a follower of the books (Yet, anyway) It's in serious consideration to the best as far as I'm concerned. Usually with films that are 140 minutes long, I start to get Ancy in my seat due to my ADHD condition. I actually yearned for more after it was over, as the excitement was top-notch. The finale is without a doubt one of the most breathtaking one's I've seen in my entire lifetime. It was just beautifully told, and wonderfully set-up. Azkaban also provides us with three wonderful leads once again, in Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson. Azkaban is quite the ride, and may just be my favorite so far.

Performances. Daniel Radcliffe continues to mature as Potter, and gives a wonderful show here. He balances anger, confusion, and vulnerability perfectly, and I was on his side the whole way. Rupert Grint is as funny and charming as ever as Ron. I found myself cracking up half the time he was on screen. Emma Watson is bubbly and easy on the eyes, but credible once again as well. She is also maturing, and Hermione is quickly becoming one of my favorite Potter characters. Gary Oldman is surprisingly effective as Sirius, considering he only did it for the Money. David Thewlis is interesting in his role, and wise, if nothing else. Michael Gambon is classy as ever as Dumbledore. Alan Rickman is sinister once more as Snape, while Maggie Smith is great once again in her role. Robbie Coltrane is pretty good as Hagrid. Tom Felton continues to emerge as a great threat to Potter's fortune, while Emma Thompson is fittingly kooky.

Bottom line. This is top-notch excitement at its finest. It's definitely one of the best, if not THE best Potter film in the series. Potter fanatics should be thrilled with the fine quality of this movie. A must see!

9 ½ /10
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My Favorite Of The Harry Potter Films
ccthemovieman-117 February 2008
I thought this was excellent....better than the first two Harry Potter movies combined and better than what has followed.. That's my feeling, and I'm still sticking to it.

This was just great fun, right from the opening. In fact, the early bus scene is the best in the film. Overall, the movie didn't have as mean an edge to it as the others, although it has a number of scary moments (which might have warranted a PG-13 rating). That was fine with me. I got tired of the dark, nasty and/or annoying characters of the first two films, and especially the irritating blonde wise-guy kid. I give this major points for cutting his role down. Even Alan Rickman's character softens.

In other words, there is no despicable villain to hate throughout the film, which I thought was refreshing. Instead, we just go through one adventure after another until the final surprise ending.

Along the way are a lot of fun special effects and scenery, some humor (Emma Thompson is a hoot as an eccentric tea-leaf reader) and some fantastic 5.1 surround sound. I wish all the Harry Potter films were like this one.
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Charming and Extraordinary
moongear7 January 2005
As with previous Potter films, this one is wonderful. The mischievous trio are back in their third year at Hogwarts.

Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is a slightly different character in this film as the anger inside of him for what happened to his parents has grown over the years. This made, for me, the film much more enjoyable than the first and second.

As one would no doubt assume, Gary Oldman's portrayal of the character Sirius Black is nothing less than perfect. However, Sirius Black seams an unlikely roll for the talented Oldman. I enjoyed him more in other films, such as 'The Professional' and 'Immortal Beloved'. Let us hope he has had the chance to 'play it up' a bit more in the much anticipated 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'.

The original music of John Williams is more than I could ever hope to hear. It is absolutely splendid, making the film worth a listen even if you do not watch. Williams has created memorable compositions such as the theme music to 'Star Wars', 'Jaws' and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'.

Overall, any age should enjoy this film. The visual effects are not the most spectacular I've seen, but fantastic enough to take your imagination away from the real world for 141 minutes. Even the closing credits are kind of cool.

Now, go watch the film. You'll be glad you did.
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A new director who proves equal to the task.
BradBate2 July 2004
Director Alfonso Cuarón has taken the images conjured by J.K. Rowling's magical words and created from her book, 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,' a film rife with visual symbolism and alive with inventive images beyond those established by the first two films in the series. Cuarón, a native of Mexico City and the acclaimed director of the completely compelling, frequently hilarious and sexually explicit coming-of-age film, 'Y tu mamá también,' was seen by many as an odd choice to follow heartland American Chris Columbus into the Harry Potter director's chair. The selection has resulted in a film darker and more mature than its predecessors, just as was the book, but it is also as approachable for young people as Cuarón's other internationally heralded work, 'A Little Princess.'

It is late in the summer. Harry (a decidedly more assertive Daniel Radcliffe, making his third appearance in the leading role) is at the Dursleys in Privet Drive, preparing for his third year at Hogwart's, when an obnoxious relative demeans his father's memory, causing Harry to lose his temper. As a result, Harry violates the rules of student witches and wizards, causing the offending aunt to inflate as a dirigible and float away into the night sky on an stream of invectives. It is a delightful opening to a film with far more serious issues to explore and frightening obstacles to overcome. Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), imprisoned at Azkaban for complicity in the murder of Harry's parents, has escaped, and is looking for Harry. The soul-stealing prison guards called 'Dementors' (Latin for mind-removers) are searching for Black everywhere, but when he and Harry meet, there are revelations which change everything.

The symbolism in the film is fascinating. Rowling is responsible for a lot of it, but Cuarón has used symbolism as a visual tool to alert the audience to impending danger and to keep tensions high. Traditionally, black-feathered birds such as ravens, crows, and vultures all have negative images associated with them; they are usually used to represent carnage, bloodshed and battle; they are thought of in terms of scavengers, messengers of the dead, and evil. Crows abound in this film, but Cuarón has extended their traditional roles, turning them into symbols of the Dementors, which fly around menacingly in black garments with feather-like hems. Even when the Dementors are out of sight (they are not allowed on the grounds of Hogwart's School) you can feel their presence in the crows.

Rowling's most obvious use of symbolism is in the name she gives the escaped prisoner Sirius Black. Sirius is a star in the constellation Canis Majoris (in mythology, Canis Majoris is one of Orion's hunting dogs; the Greater Dog), the brightest star in the sky. So, Sirius is also called the Dog Star, and everyone knows that the dog is distinguished above all other inferior animals for intelligence, docility, and attachment to man. Would she give such a name, with all its implications, to a villainous character? Not likely. But she would give it to a wizard who could change into a dog.

Among the new visual images are animal ghosts which wander the halls of Hogwart's Castle and the film's realization of Buckbeak the Hippogriff, like Sirius, falsely accused and condemned. Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and all of the established characters return. Led by Harry, all the students have matured considerably, as you would expect of 13-year-olds; they are more independent and self assured, more emotionally developed and far less childlike in their reactions and bearing. Michael Gambon is new and effective as Aldus Dumbledore, following the death of Richard Harris. Emma Thompson is wonderfully wacky as Divination Professor Sybil Treelawney; who leaps from the pages of the book and onto the screen as if Rowling had written the character specifically for Thompson. Also new is Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Remus Lupin (David Thewles), who comes to Harry's aid in ways that might befit his Latin name. Remus was the brother of the founder of Rome. In mythology, he was nursed by a she-wolf; Lupin means wolf-like (wolf is Canis Lupis).

The unheralded thread of creative continuity in this marvelous series, as it moves from Chris Columbus to Alfonso Cuarón to incoming director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, now in production) is Screenwriter Steve Kloves. He and the producers have been true to Rowling's works and to Harry's fans, in ways that have always enhanced, not diminished, the author's incredible achievement.
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Creepy, quirky and utterly gorgeous - Spoilers
Chandler818 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
If you're anti-Potter you owe it to yourself to see this film. Get past the issues you might have with the immense hype around the franchise and sit down for two hours to be captivated by this creepy, quirky and beautiful film. If you're a Potter-fan and you're unhappy with the film, the novel is probably on the table in front of you and you're better off reading it again. This is a wonderful film despite your expectations or opinions as to how it 'should have been done'.

This review contains spoilers pertaining to the novel version of The Prisoner of Azkaban; if you haven't read the book, you have been warned.

What makes this film work far more than the previous films are three key aspects - the acting, the screenplay, and the production design/cinematography - and all of them I credit directly to Cuaron's new vision. Suppsedly it was Cuaron's work on A Little Princess that won him the gig to direct this film, but I would honestly say that Y Tu Mama Tambien is equally if not more to credit. While he doesn't get the caliber of Tambien's performances in the young Potter stars, Cuaron does far better than his predecessor Chris Columbus. Most importantly, this film features a far more relaxed performance from Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. His confidence, surely thanks to Cuaron's demonstrated ability to direct young actors, lets him speak and react in a far more genuine manner than we saw in the previous films and helps the film enormously. Hopefully Dan continues to improve with each film.

With the more assured Radcliffe able to hold a scene together, Rupert Grint matches him admirably. Having been relieved of the Culkin Syndrome he was afflicted with in the first two films (the fault of Columbus, no doubt), he brings a more entertaining and believable Ron to the screen; both a joker and a noble soul as he is portrayed in the novels. It's wonderful to see that Grint has a genuine sense of comedy about him, and has made Ron more than the one-dimensional, face-pulling joke Columbus would have him. Emma Watson holds her own with the boys, giving a fantastic performance, and importantly bringing a lot of needed emotion to the central characters. Hermione now feels like the glue in the trio rather than the outsider.

The new Dumbledore is a little uncomfortable, simply for the fact that he has a very small role in the film, and we don't have enough time to entirely digest this new portrayal. Richard Harris brought a wise kind of grace to the character, but perhaps in his physical state the character did come across as a little too frail. There is nothing wrong with Michael Gambon in this role, and I believe with his increased parts in the next film he will prove to be a satisfying replacement. I was wary of casting for Remus Lupin, one of my favourite characters of the novels, but David Thewlis makes this role his own with a delightful portrayal. Likewise, Oldman is perfectly cast as Black.

There are edits and reshuffles with regard to the Azkaban's story compared to the book, both in terms of how the story fits together, and what information from the overall seven novel arc is in the film. I don't see how these changes matter much, the identity of the Marauders will undoubtedly be revealed, and potentially in a fashion that has a greater impact than it did in the novels. The reshuffling improves the pace in a huge way compared to the Columbus films which were quite plodding in parts because of their tenacious grip on remaining accurate to the novels. The dialogue is similar to the previous films. The "sudden" ending is satisfying enough; there really isn't any need for the over-done end of year banquet scenes, and seeing Harry happy at the end of the film is all I think we need.

Some have complained that the continuity between the first two films and the third one has been spoiled by changes in the production design. I really can't see the problem here, the look of Hogwarts is far more immersive and emotive in Azkaban than it was in either The Philosopher's Stone or The Chamber of Secrets. Cuaron brings a twisted visual style to the screen and draws on his Mexican heritage to add further layers of interest to the look of the film. He could be called overly indulgent, but rather than being distracting, these additions simply bring more life to the screen, making Azkaban a gorgeously vibrant film. The production design is simply oozing with the filmmaker's obvious delight in creating the creepy magical atmosphere that this darker story requires. If after all that you still can't accept the changes to the production design, think simply of this; "The stairs like to change". If the stairs at Hogwarts like to change, why not the rest of it? It is a magical place, after all.

The cinematography though, is what makes the film so beautiful. There's barely a shot in the film which isn't utterly gorgeous. The scenes of the Dementors floating outside Hogwarts are inspired, the moonlight scene after the return from the Shrieking Shack, the flight scenes with Buckbeak, the first Dementor scene on the train; all are captured beautifully and put Columbus with his squeaky clean vanilla take on everything in first two films to shame.

This film was one of the highlights out of Hollywood in the last year. It's, dare I say it, compelling and well acted in a beautifully realized and shot fantasy world. You owe it to yourself to see it once; and if you're a fan holding a grudge, maybe you should give it another try.

And pray to your Gods that George Lucas never gets his hands on the reigns to a Potter film.
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The best of the Harry Potter films so far
colettesplace17 December 2004
This third Harry Potter film is the best one yet. Director Alphonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien, A Little Princess) has taken over from Chris Columbus and has stuck less slavishly to the original JK Rowling Books.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are back as Harry, Ron and Hermoine, with Hermoine in particular getting to do a lot more. There are less Quidditch matches, and more menace, in keeping with the improved complexity of Rowling's third novel. Hogwarts is not safe, Draco Malfoy is no longer a menace, but just a pain in the ass. And the new CGI-scripted character Buckbeak the Hippogriff (half eagle, half horse) looks fantastic and has personality.The kids are all supposed to be thirteen but look older - hey we'll forgive them. Neville Longbottom has lost so much weight he's almost unrecognisable.

Great performances from Emma Thompson hamming it up as the ditsy professor of foretelling, Prof Trelawny, Michael Gambon as the new Professor Dumbledore (not as magical but good), David Thewliss as Prof Lupin, and Gary Oldman as the Prisoner of Azkhaban.Thrilling, complex, menacing, ****/***** stars.
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Best Film of the Series; One of the Best Films of All Time
joshuafagan-642144 September 2015
I wish Alfonso Cuaron would come back to the franchise. I know that he probably won't, but I still hope. After all, as we float through this empty, depressing world, sometimes all we have is hope. He detached this film franchise from its safe-as-a-CIA-file roots and allowed it to grow wings and fly into a silver ether. To anyone who thinks franchise films cannot be art... check out LOTR. But once you are done, check out this film. It is both ironic and darkly appropriate that this is both the lowest grossing Harry Potter film and the one that many film critic types, such as myself, say is the greatest of the octology.

The film starts off like do all Harry Potter books and most Harry Potter movies. Potter is at the house of his over-the-top, abusive, Muggle adopted family, getting tormented like he always does. Yes, I know it is explained in detail why he needs to stay with them, but such doesn't make it any less of a poor writing choice. But, when and if I do a full review of the Potter series, I'll go over those kinds of decisions.

I only bring this up because it is a base line for these movies and such something I can use to show why this is the best one. In the Columbus films, it is played with a cheerful exaggeration that reminds me of many of his eighties movies. This is not a bad thing, but it is not brimming with greatness either. In the Yates films, it is downplayed as just a backdrop, a facade, if you will, to more serious matters. Cuaron manages to combine these approaches, which is expected, as both this and GOF are the 'transition movies', while adding both sophistication and a level of charged rawness, which is not expected.

We get to see Harry's emotional landscape. Fragile but potent, unstable but unyielding, it is a sight to behold, one that belies the simpler character that we got in both the earlier and later movies. If Harry Potter developed along these lines, he might have actually been a great character instead of the flattest one among a crowd of interesting people.

The scenes are magical, but not in the try-hard way of the first two films. Around the time that I first saw them, I declared myself a true blue of the series. I haven't looked back since. The shots are magical in a way that is both wispy and intense. This is the tone that these movies should have taken, and if they reboot them, something of I am not in favor but something that is a conceivable possibility in today's Hollywood climate, this is the tone I would like them to try to take. Just the thought of that sends chills down my spine. It might even be able to challenge LOTR for the crown of best fantasy series of all time.

After that virtuoso opening, I kept waiting to be let down. I never was. Every new character introduced was interesting and every old character they excluded was not missed. The pacing is the best out of the movies; the first two were too slow and the other five were too fast. The plot was more personal to me than the other movies; this is the one movie in which Voldemort does not appear in some form or another. There is no direct end boss and so the plot has to be more creative. And so it is.

Of course, more of the credit for this has to go Mrs. Rowling for writing the book on which this film was based. But the cinematography is all the work of Cuaron's team. And it is the best in the series by far. Not to say that the other movies are poorly shot; this is Britain, after all: things may be bad, but they are never badly done. But while the cinematography of the first few movies would perfectly fit a kid's fantasies, the cinematography of the fourth movie would perfectly fit a high class ball or gala, and the cinematography of the last four movies would perfectly fit a nature doc, the cinematography of this film perfectly fits the franchise.

It is artful and well-done, but it is not show like an Oscarbaity period piece. The camera feels alive and coated with magic powder. It is exactly how I imagine the heartbeat of a troubled magic society to feel like. The music helps it out. If you listen to Window to the Past and are not sucked into the world Cuaron made for this film, then you just don't have a soul. It is introspective, ambient, immersive, and coated with the kind of cerebral wonder that I think makes life worth living. It is the best tune in the franchise. But do not think it is the only good tune in the movie. Buckbeak's Flight is a good second.

While the characters in the series may never be willing/able to turn back time after this movie for reasons cheap and nonsensical and borderline nonexistent, I hope that you will be wiser. Come back in time with me to 2004. And let the emotional waves of this picture overtake you.
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Best of the three
cosmic_quest31 May 2004
Although this film isn't all that I'd hoped it would be, I believe that it was the best of the three 'Harry Potter' films so far, thanks largely due to director Alfonso Cuaron. In 'Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban', the trio are now thirteen and beginning their Third Year at Hogwarts, under the fear of an escaped criminal who played a part in the deaths of Harry's parents and seems to be stalking the school, preying on Harry.

The child acting in this film has improved slightly with Emma Watson and Rupert Grint probably faring the best in comparison to their young co-stars. Although he is lumbered with a Ron who has once again been reduced to a comic character, it's a sign of Grint's abilities that he does well without looking embarrassed or too clownish. Dan Radcliffe was still very poor, obviously struggling to portray Harry's darker emotions in a manner that isn't wooden and awkward and and this was very apparent in the scene where he makes an atrocious effort to cry when he finds out his godfather had betrayed his parents to their deaths. while Tom Felton was let down by poor scripting of Draco.

The adult cast were excellent. Remus Lupin and Sirius Black were perfectly cast. Lupin was soft yet stern when needed and you could feel there was a parental rapport between him and Harry, and I couldn't imagine anyone other than David Thewlis in the role. And Gary Oldman was great in depicting Black's determination, mingled with an hysterical madness due to his incarceration in the hellish wizarding prison Azkaban. As for Michael Gambon, who was recast in the role of Dumbledore, I felt he was an improvement. Richard Harris was a gifted actor but his Dumbledore had a cold, aloofness to him whereas Gambon was able to portray the warm, eccentricity of the character without diminishing the power and wisdom of Dumbledore. And the rest of the regular cast, such as Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith, were perfect although we expect no better from them now!

One of the best aspects of this film is how it no longer pandered to kiddies like the previous two films did. There was a darker, moodier edge to the story and the characters. The wizarding world no longer seemed like a perfect haven and the characters had grown beyond being innocent children; this reflected the book itself since many feel PoA was a turning point in the series where it finally felt like Harry Potter- boy and book- were growing up. The Hogwarts' setting differed from the previous films yet not only was it definitely more faithful to the books but finally it felt as if the castle was in Scotland rather than perpetually sunny Disney Land and this enhanced the mood being set in the film. The clock was a nice touch, linking to the theme of time in the actual storyline, as was the bridge in being a place for Harry to mull over his problems. Also, in many ways, this film could have ended up a muddled mess in regards to the ending but Cuaron handled the Time Turner scenes well.

However, there were flaws to the film, which let it down. The characters of Hermione and Draco were poorly scripted so they seemed like two completely different characters from the ones we know and love in the books. Although Watson as an actress has improved since CoS, the main problem with the script is that Hermione is being portrayed as being too cool and cocky compared to the bookworm who has no interest in fashion that we know Hermione to be in the books. Steve Kloves, the scriptwriter who admits he's responsible for the change, really needs to learn heroines don't need to be cool Buffy types to be admired; part of why Hermione is so popular as a character in the books is that she appeals to girls who are bookish themselves and easily identify with her. And as for Draco, he comes across as too much of a cowardly, weak girlie-boy rather than an insidious, vicious brat who can be a threat to Harry when he chooses to.

Also, there was no telling of what Black did to Snape in school that left him so bitter in his hatred and I wished they'd included the scene where he let slip what Lupin was, especially as this animosity between him, Black and Lupin plays a larger role as the books go on. And speaking of Lupin, the werewolf CGI was atrocious. He looked like an emaciated rat rather than the wolf-like creature who leaves even the more powerful wizards quivering in fear. I wished there was more in the ending too as I would have loved to see Vernon's face when he found out who Black was. Kloves needs to learn how to round the Harry Potter films off properly as this was also a sticking point in CoS.

At the end of the day, there were scenes left out, some of which we didn't mind skipping but others (an explanation to Harry of James Potter's friendship to Black and Lupin) were sorely missed. It was a great film but it could have done with being made longer or skipping on non-essential scenes (less of the Knight Bus and Hermione punching Malfoy in a manner that makes her out to be a thug) to make way for scenes which are more important. I think I was disappointed because I was expecting something along the lines of RotK but it's still great viewing. I'd give it a seven-and-a-half out of ten with the hopes Cuaron will return to the helm again although preferably not with Kloves as the scriptwriter. I think Cuaron would be excellent working with a script produced by someone who has a better handle on the darker aspects of the books and a deeper understanding of the HP characters.
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Way to go
morf_enimsaj15 December 2004
Wow. I love the new direction. The style fits the movie perfectly. I also think the kids acted much better in this one. I really hope they don't get rid of Daniel Radcliff, even if he does get too broad in the shoulders. You can't swap horses mid-stream. Also, did anyone recognize the kid who played Neville at first? The biggest problem that I had was that there were a lot of things the movie didn't explain, such as "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs." I think that it may have been hard for those who hadn't read the book to understand. It also didn't show that Harry's Patronus was a stag, which I thought was important. And Harry's eyes aren't green (which is mentioned at least once in each book), but that's a minor thing. I felt that the style fits the book well. I go back and read the first book and think "Wow, how young they all are, how naive." The books age, and I think that comes out in this movie. I hope they continue to follow the same path.

All in all, I loved the new direction and the movie itself. I can't wait 'till the next one comes out.
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last of the really sweet episodes..
A_Different_Drummer21 November 2015
.. and near perfect film making.

Why does every major fictional story that starts off so light end up so dark? Sorry, rhetorical question. The answer is that we live a polar world, light and dark, night and day, positive and negative.

So this may well be the last episode in the series which is both exhilarating and innocent.

Especially if you compare it to the last two in the series, which I suggest you do not do because you will lose your lunch.

The cinematography does not get better. In the winter scenes you can feel the chill and in the flying scenes you get airsick.

And the story includes a "time loop" twist which is handled so perfectly that you want to see the film a second or third time to make sure you got it all.

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Writing in character again --- on Prisoner of Azkaban
pirate1_power15 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Well, once more we have another journey into the struggle for the future of Hogwarts. This time, the quest involves the saga of Sirius Black. Who is he? Why is he on the prowl for young Harry? And what, ultimately, is the truth behind the murder of James and Lilly Potter, Harry's parents? The tale opens with yet another killer title sequence, this time bringing the familiar Warner Bros. shield to light in spurts before focusing on Harry's 'homework assignment,' if you will --- the Lumos Maxima spell. After this, we come to the first segment of the story proper. Now aged 13, Harry is angrier, and more unsure of his destiny than in his previous adventures at Hogwarts. His rage against one of the Dursleys' relatives intensifies when he finally decides it's not worth it to remain there ("Anywhere's better than here," he complains to Uncle Vernon).

A few moments later --- the Night Bus. What a ride, especially with British veteran comic Lenny Henry contributing the voice of the manic Shrunken Head! The film reaches its most beautiful moment, however, as Hagrid --- newly installed as Professor in Charge of the Care of Magical Creatures --- introduces his class, and us, to Buckbeak the Hippogriff. The haunting flight of Buckbeak, with Harry on his back, is complimented by a new theme from John Williams; and yes, Harry does the 'king-of-the-world' thing a la Leonardo DiCaprio (but that, of course, we can forgive).

Director Alfonso Cuaron, who makes here a return to making films from family stories, provides us with as unexpected an ability to play mind games with the Potter legend's staunchest supporters (us, the audience) than even Chris Columbus did, when we discover at last what is really going on. That Sirius Black is Harry Potter's godfather, and would willingly sacrifice himself for Harry's honor, brings more sorrow than joy to our hero's emotional psyche, setting the stage for the major payoff sequence.

How horrifying it is to learn that the rat you have loved and cared for for all of 12 years is no less than the traitor who brought Voldemort the means to slay James and Lilly! One can imagine what's going through Ron Weasley's mind as he, Harry, and Hermoine witness these bitter revelations.

And finally, we have the theme of expressing freedom, as Harry sees himself, changed into a glowing stag, giving the evil Dementors what for, thus freeing both Sirius and Buckbeak --- two innocents who, like Hagrid himself, have been falsely accused and condemned. Alas, Sirius' destiny, as we know all too well, is to be a short-lived one.

So, what did you love about the movie? I hear you asking. Well, aside from the usual smokin' performances from our regulars (and a jolly toast to Michael Gambon who, one hopes, will be given a bigger, cooler beard once Order of the Phoenix goes into principal photography), there is also the delightful spectre of darkness surrounding the story, and a ferocious bid for battling against revenge. And, for the first time, the inclusion of the Marauders' Map is not only emphasized, it also serves as the inspiration --- and literal setting --- for the movie's end-credit sequence.

All in all, Prisoner of Azkaban brings the darker Potter power to light in ways one would not dare expect out of screenwriter Steve Kloves. Alas, they're saying that Steve will be leaving the production team after having completed the Goblet of Fire script; if another writer does Order of the Phoenix proper justice, they'll be hard-pressed to take on the search for one. That being the case, I sincerely hope our legions of fans will enjoy our film. Who knows? I may have to do this again three years from now when Half-Blood Prince gets the movie treatment! (Heh-heh!) Faithfully, Albus Dumbledore
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I don't get it.
Blackavaar23 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Why do so many people hail Cuarón as if he's doing something genius with this film? He altered the beginning to add some stupid joke with the wand lighting under the covers (Lumos Maximo would shoot a flare out of the wand. Lumos simply lights it up. - Read the books). And as a 3rd year Harry shouldn't have any trouble with the spell to light his damn wand. It's a dumb joke and it's not even funny when old man Dursly comes in grunting with his weird splotchy cheeks. Who did the make-up on this, btw? This is the worst make up job on everyone except the main cast that I have ever seen in a Harry Potter film. Really, except for the kids and the main teachers everyone seems like they are just plastered on and shoved into the background. Just keep them out of focus. It'll be fine. Sorry, nope. I noticed.

Next, let's talk about the annoying change of Tom the barman/innkeeper at the Leaky Cauldron from a mild mannered Englishman to a weird jokey hunchback. Again, Mr. French, this is not funny. I don't know who you are trying to amuse but this is just sad. You don't make fun of the physical disabled anymore. Don't you know that? And then there's the Knight Bus shrunken heads with Jamaican accents. Yes, because you're not being racist at all by assuming all shrunken heads would come from places with people of darker skin. And did you read the books? This scene wasn't supposed to be about comedy. It was more about the dread of being completely alone with no one to help. Instead Cuarón again chooses to add some more awkward humor that simply isn't funny and is really just as offensive as Jar Jar Binks.

And then there's the change to the Fat Lady. Suddenly she's become a wanna-be opera singer who can't sing and breaks a glass just to pretend she can? What? That's not funny and it's not even focusing on the discussion between the kids, which should be the focus instead of this unfunny change to a painting that's already been established in the series. No. Just, no. That's poor direction, even if it was just written on the script he was working from. Sorry, but any good director would actually at least take the time to watch the first two movies as part of their research and to at least try to make his movie match the first two for continuity. I mean, for cripes sake we have continuity directors listed among the crew. Tell me what do you guys do? Because it doesn't seem to be working here at all. And again, right after the Fat Lady, another annoying thing added for a stupid reason. Apparently the director found it necessary to show that all the paintings were connected by adding a giant snake slithering through all of them. Just one thing. Who painted a picture of a giant snake and where is that hung in the damn castle? No one! That's who. And nowhere! Seriously? And why is there a painting of a monkey in a cage. Who paints a monkey in a cage and hangs it in Hoggwarts Castle? Oh, I know. Some weird Mexican director who thinks he is more clever than he really is. Come on, man.

Okay, okay. I've been harping on the affects and comedic changes a bit. Lets switch gears here for a sec and I'll tell you a few things I did like. The acting was very good, apart from Tom that is. And the director's work with Oldman, Thewlis and Gambon was remarkable. I really loved the new iteration of Dumbledore. And all the Professor Lupin stuff was great, right up until he turned into the dumbest looking werewolf I've ever seen on film. And this was after such a great addition with the Dementors. Really, the version in this film was better than any of the following films. I don't know why they decided to go more standard "grim reaper" in the rest. The look of the Hoggsmead and the Shrieking Shack were spot on, right up until they again showed some stupid shrunken heads, This time a parody of the Fates from Hercules. Do you have any jokes that are your own, Cuarón?

Oh, I must mention Buckbeak, the Hippogriff. This looked great and was all well done right up until we do the magical ride around Hoggwarts part just for the sake of adding some fast moving adventure to the scene. I mean, it's fine. It was fun and looked great, but it made no sense and when you think about it it's the worst teaching ever. Really? A teacher just has you put your hand out to greet him then just lumps you up on a flying creature's back and shoos you off like you've ever even ridden a horse before? Harry hasn't, btw. He hasn't ridden anything but a bus and a train in his whole life and you're letting him take off on a dangerous creature he just met and could easily fall to his death from at heights of up to 200 feet over the damn school grounds? Are you freaking insane? You are so fired it's ridiculous and it wouldn't take Malfoy's insipid whinging to make it possible. Seriously, it also totally breaks up the continuity of the scene. I mean, he takes off flies around, comes back down and Malfoy says, "I can do that!" and gets bitten? I mean, come on. Oh yeah, and those dumb Monstrous Book of Monsters. LOL :D I don't get it. You're trying to give this a darker tone and then you're filling it with jokes intended for a five year old? Couldn't have the scene as it was in the book been enough, instead of the goofy chasing it around and stomping on it crap? And why was it spouting pieces of paper everywhere it went? Was it eating itself? Gah!

This brings me to one of my favorite additions made with this movie, which is a bit of a blunder in itself at points when you think about things in later films (I won't get into that), but the Marauder's Map was just beautifully done, with the multi-fold pages and the pop-outs and the moving ink it was exactly as it was described in the books. I don't know if the director had much to do with that though. I'm pretty sure those effects would have been the same regardless.

And then another complaint, the Whomping Willow. While I like that it changed with the seasons and began using it's growing willow vines as whips, I think the whole riding the tree crap was overplayed and ham-handed. A simple chase and dodge would have made more sense than the wild ride followed by a very convenient or extremely lucky drop into exactly where you wanted to go by the whipping tree branch you're holding onto.

And then we get to that dumb looking were-wolf again. Man, is that thing horrible. It doesn't even look like a wolf. It hardly has any fur. It's all skinny and gaunt. I mean, wth is that? It looks like a were-weasel. And let's not forget he completely changed the layout of Hoggwarts for no reason just too add all kinds of stupid clock references. Hello, we know the time turner is a big thing in this film you don't need to keep pointing it out to us like we're a bunch of 5 year olds.

Some say all these decisions were artistic and that makes this the best of the Harry Potter films, but I'm sorry. I completely disagree. Changing things in a film that is supposed to fit in with a series for the sake of your own art is not a good thing for the series. It doesn't work. It doesn't fit and it doesn't make for a good part in a series. You don't have a guy come in to do an addition on your home and let him run wild with the design just because he has a vision and end up with this weird slat roofed, brick thing sticking out of your hard tile roofed, stucco house. It's the same with film. Look at what you're working with. Make it match that. You wanna make art? Make your own stand alone films. Don't try to play with a team if you're not a team player.

And then I come finally to the last badness. The worst scene in the film and simultaneous one of the most important. That part where Daniel Radcliff said to the director "I wanna try something my way." And the director said, "Okay." And then actually used that cut. OMG it's horrible. He looks horrible. It makes him look like the worst actor in a B movie and this is not a B movie. The scene, can you guess it? It goes like this.

Hermione: "Harry, what is it?" Harry: "He was their friend.. and he betrayed them. HE WAS THEIR FRIEND! I hope he finds me. 'Cause when he does, I'm gonna be ready! When he does, I'm gonna kill him!" And then he does this stupid lip thing and heavy breathing, which is supposed to read as anger but reads more of overacting. Really, you should have shot more than one take Cuarón.

That's all. I'm sorry, but I disagree with the majority on this one. This was not a good Harry Potter movie. It was barely acceptable and obviously the studio agreed because Cuarón was not asked to continue working on the films.
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PoA has "magic" but "not magical enough" like the previous 2 ****Spoilers A-Plenty****
the_mantra_man13 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
(6/10, out of which 4.5 goes to Buckbeak) How I looked forward to this movie cannot be summarized in a paragraph.. and then when I saw it...hmmm...this looked like a regular movie that had some magic but was in "No way Magical enough" as I quite liked the Chris Columbus presentation and his attention to detail in the previous two.. Don't get me wrong, Cuaron does a pretty good job but his style is more 'Artsy'.

The first one was just cute.. and curiosity got the better of all of us in 'How is Harry Potter going to be depicted?' on screen.. CoS was more mature. Very occasionally it did seem that the movie's were long (if you have watched the DVD's enough) but they captured the essence of the books and there was a continuity to the scenes even for the non-Harry folk.

I guess the length of the previous two movies must have made some kind of impact on the way PoA has been condensed. The pace of PoA was "too fast" compared to the previous two. From the initial scenes, Harry in his room to Aunt Marge to Harry leaving the Duddleys was < 10 minutes (or so it seemed). Magnolia Crescent and the 'black dog' was a trifle slow and then came the triple decker bus which was pretty brisk. The introduction of Sirius Black was not menacing enough by 'Stan' the conductor on the T.D. bus. Gary Oldman definitely deserved more (+5mins)*

The entry into Leaky Cauldron and the inn-keeper 'Tom' (who looked like a character from 'Adams Family') swinging Harry off the street to meet 'Cornileus Fudge' (whose name is not even mentioned) was moderately funny. The re-union of Harry, Ron and Hermione lacks any friendship or bonding strength and 'Mr. Weaselys' warning to Harry isn't any more serious than watching 'Saturday Night Live'.

I was particularly disappointed that 'AZKABAN' prison is just left to imagination (more like a passing comment) and the crime that Sirius committed, killing 13 with one curse & Pettigrew losing a pinky is NOT even shown in an abstract fashion (like Voldermot killing Harry's mother in HP1(+5mins)*

The trip to Hogwarts with the train stranded and the Dementors/Lupins introduction was kinda neat (especially the fading of Harry - the soul screaming etc) but a gifted actor like David Thewlis could have had two more minutes at that point, especially when he explains what a dementor is (+2mins)*

Cut, horseless carriages, cut, 'Choir group – very neat with Something Wicked This Way Comes', cut, 'Welcome Welcome' says DumbleDore, introduces Hagrid and Lupin.

THE BEST PART - the Hippogriff and Hagrid's class, Harry's first flight on BUCKBEAK. The special effects team deserves an award for Buckbeak who IMHO was the SAVING GRACE or the HERO of the film, continued to impress me till the very end.

Quidditch with the dementors swooping on Harry (very imaginatively handled) who falls and is going to be stopped by Dumbledore (very unimaginative after he starts falling as it fades dark and pop comes the next scene in the Hospital Wing). Divination room was much different than the book without the trap door etc although Emma Thompson was funny.

Fat Lady was wasted. Sirius coming to kill Scabbers was cut. The FireBolt and its introduction without Hermione's suspicions looks 'hollow' in the end. Honeydukes (getting there was assumed) and Marauder's Map needed some more time (+5mins)*. Changing 'Three Broomsticks' to 'Hogs Head' was weird. Who is Sirius to Harry (as explained by Mcgonnagal) did not give enough detail (+5mins)*.

Lupins class, Harry's scenes with Lupin, his encounter at night with 'Peter Pettigrew' in the courtyard and the last 40 mins with Lupin, Sirius, Snape and the dementors which is the CRUX of the movie was done very well although 'Who exactly is Peter Pettigrew' is not communicated clearly even in the climax. Hermione's Time Turner, which is confusing unless you have read the book could have used additional time (3mins)*

All in all this movie would have made a 'magical' impact on me if we could have experienced those extra 30 minutes of detail to bring continuity in the film, but that was not to be. Maybe the DVD will be better.. I sure hope so.
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BY FAR the worst film in the series!
drewcollins-7025526 August 2018
You can watch the entire Harry Potter series and skip this pointless borefest entry and yet NOTHING would be lost.

Terrible new characters, a convoluted storyline with zero suspense, a beyond anti-climactic ending that will have anyone with an actual brain saying "......that's it??? where's the epic 3rd act!?!?", and the single biggest offender of all: HORRENDOUSLY BAD ACTING across the board, especially from the kids with just one or two lines, who the hell cast these beyond talentless children?!?

1/10 (would give a straight ZERO if available)
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Don't like the change of director
ajp8620044 June 2004
My opinion of the recently released Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban is that the new director totally changed the mood and feeling of the Harry Potter series. Those of you who watched PoA and read the book saw many things cut out, I am aware that a lot had to be cut out for time reasons but in doing this many things were lost that were important in the storyline. An Example of this is how Heromine was able to attend all her classes this was shown briefly in two scene and could have easily been missed. Another thing that was troubling was why was the scenery of the movie changed. The grounds of Hogwarts were totally different than the first two movies.I believe that the change of director could have turned off many Harry Potter fans from the movies. As for myself I enjoyed the first two films and did not like the third. I do very much though enjoy the books and also I hope that the the next movie will be a little better put together.
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Expect(o) to be let down by future installments
illyria-418 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Prisoner of Azkaban is the only installment of the Harry Potter series to stray from the formula "Voldemort is trying to kill Harry". That's one of the reasons I liked this movie so much. It lacks the sense of impending peril present in "Sorceror's Stone" and "Chamber of Secrets" and the lack of oppressive atmosphere allows for the most complete (as of movie 4) character exploration of the entire series.

I think Alfonso Cuarón is the perfect director for this type of material: this movie is so well-handled it makes Chris Columbus' and Mike Newell's efforts look like amateur productions. It is really a shame that he didn't sign on for the fourth movie.

This movie also contains some of the finest performances from child actors I have ever seen. I must have watched this movie thirty times by now, and not only because it's picturesque, with wonderfully shot scenes and seamlessly integrated effects; not only because of the enchanting music chosen, which adds tremendously to the sense of immersion in the movie. No, I watch this movie over and over because of the master performances put in by Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe. They're very likable people, and they're charming in every scene, whether they're trying to dodge unfair punishment from Snape or saving themselves from Dementors. They're so charming, you actually feel like you're there with them.
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The Worst Yet
python-c2 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie had me really excited, as the Prisoner of Azkaban was my favourite book. But in the end I was really, honestly disappointed.

Another reviewer claimed that this was the best Harry Potter yet. I claim the exact opposite-- I think it's the worst. It was horribly shortened, and many scenes were altered to fit Hollywood standards. Practically everything was turned into a joke, even the things that really shouldn't have been.

I also think that the appointment of this new Dumbledore was a dreadful mistake. While he certainly redeems himself a bit in the fifth movie, in this one, he was the opposite of what I imagined of his character (albeit, it was much worse in the fourth). He was hardly the gentle, soft-spoken, graceful wizard I had envisioned, or that was portrayed in the 1st and 2nd movies, which, in my opinion, were the best.

The scene in the Shrieking Shack was summarized sloppily and altogether too quickly. Exemplified in this scene was the worst portrayal of Sirius Black we could have hoped for. Sure, we knew he was fervent, anxious to kill Pettigrew and get revenge, but we didn't think of him as insane. And the scene with Lupin turning into a werewolf--they added and awful bit with Sirius telling Lupin something like "This is who you truly are, this heart, in here!", which is hardly the kind of thing you'd be saying as your best friend transformed into a deadly monster.

I eventually just turned the movie off. I couldn't watch it anymore. I was awfully disappointed after the stunning accuracy of the first two films. In those, the casting was spot-on, and the accuracy was impressive; here, the casting left a lot to be desired, as did the acting of those who were decent in both the Sorcerer's Stone and the Chamber of Secrets. Hermione seemed eerily preppy ("Does my hair really look like that from the back?"), Dumbledore I've already criticised, and Hagrid--quite the perfect match in all of the other movies--seemed to fall apart in this one. Even Malfoy, who was perfect before, was made into a stereotypical bully here, not the deeper character portrayed in the books.

All in all, this was the worst Harry Potter to date, and I would only suggest it to hardcore HP fans or those who are entirely un-picky when it comes to accuracy.
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? I think not
supperstarhahn28 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is the worst movie i've ever seen. It leaves gaping plot holes, is nothing like the book and the only even almost good scene is the time travel in the end.

I am a avid reader of the books, and am disappointed in the movie having so little to do with the book. The people in this movie have never read the books, or hated them to do this to the best in the series. If you have read the books, you would know the Mauruders Map and it's makers are pivotal to Harry's discovery of his father's life, and also of his trusting trusting Sirus. Sirius uses these things to get Harry to understand his past and Sirus' innocence. The movies have nothing to do with this, and tell a story of three teens trying to deal with a wizarding high school with enough angst to sicken even the darkest teen.

Also, are you sure that's Hogwarts? It looks way different to me.

The only good things in this movie were the special effects. As usual of the Harry Potter movies, the effects were real and yet impossible, such as the hippogriff, Buckbeak.


P.S. I have been reading the comments on this site, and a startling number are positive. Who the hell are you kidding? Seriously, have you ever been to see the movie? If you have and liked it, you musn't have read the book, so tell me why Harry trusts Sirus and who created the maruder's map, both of which are piviotal to the series at large.
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Beautifully dark, but with holes
Elswet25 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This work is beautifully dark and lovingly done, but it does leave gaping holes in J. K. Rowling's magical world. The close relationship between Harry and Dumbledore is obliterated, as is Hermione's almost conspiratorial relationship with McGonagal. You are never told who Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs are (a necessary element). They completely avoid the fact that Snape has knowledge of Harry's Invisibility Cloak, and Harry received the Firebolt at the beginning of this work rather than the end. The whole incident at the Shrieking Shack was changed and lost too much in the translation. Crookshanks was calumniated from a beloved kneazle to a noisome feline who'd be more likely to pee in your shoes than help you, aside of course from his determination to eat Scabbers.

Columbus's epic style is notably missing, as is the awe-inspiring score, and the magical feeling inspired by the first two. Hagrid's hut was reinvisioned (more a gripe with Columbus for not having read ahead and determining what was needed to begin with, than a grip with this movie), there is a pumpkin patch which wasn't there last year, and Hogwarts grounds seemed to have sprouted mountains and rocky hills which weren't previously there. And Dumbledore no longer bears the traits of a beloved, serenely all-knowing Headmaster who commands respect from all (the ONLY Wizard of whom He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is afraid), he is now a lesser man who barely commands notice much less great respect.

It aggravated me that Columbus never felt it necessary to research his resource materials by reading ahead in order to make a solid determination as to where things were and how they were laid out. Negligance is never a desirable trait among any professional trade, and this single act of laziness could have cost the franchise dearly. Indeed, this attempt took a beating on DVD sales due to the lack of contentment with the finished product over the changes. Lapses in sales like this could adversely affect the studio's decision to make further films!

However. Cuarón's style is superior in his use of light and color, and the lack of these elements. He is not afraid to approach the darkness of this work, and shows it as he rivals the power of the script, rifling through each line and page for ways to illuminate the scene through means other than mere lighting. Much has been said concerning the "darker" script, etc. While this work IS darker, so was the literary work from which this was adapted. Even with all the changes (some of them barely noticeable and some of them contemptible) this attempt is the first Harry Potter film which, in my opinion, captured the true spirit and feeling of the novel which it attempts to document.

I, for one, am happy to see Chris Columbus move from the director's chair to that of producer. I've wondered though, why he was not Executive Producer of this work, as he was the previous two and the upcoming GOF? Ah well. I must have missed something. His sweeping epic style is beautiful but his works never achieved the level of awe, mystery, and joy present in the first two novels. This third attempt, as I've said, succeeded in capturing all the necessary elements.

Hagrid's hut is beautifully done and the audience has a much better feel for the grounds of Hogwarts due to Cuarón's talents. As much as I detested the fact that things had to be changed, I am very satisfied with how things looked and felt on the grounds. It felt much more magical, even with a lack of epic filming (of which I am a huge fan).

Cuarón handled the maturing of our three protagonists quite well in that he had just finished a near-porn and, indeed, a nod is given to that work in this movie. If you've seen them both, then you know what I mean. Hermione's Emma Watson is maturing well so far, as are our other favorite Hogwarts students. They do not appear to be maturing so quickly as to warrant their replacement in this series; a situation about which much speculation has been made.

This work was incredible in that the characters, creatures, and effects were all impeccably conceived and executed. The legendary hippogryph was incredibly realistic. Some critics have charged J. K. Rowling with making up these animals by "taking one half of one animal and just sticking it onto another." This is laughable, as the hippogryph is a mystical animal of legend, and not a Rowling creation. According to legend, the hippogryph, living far beyond the seas in the Rhiphaean Mountains, is the result of the rare breeding of a male gryphon and a filly. It has the head, wings and front legs of a gryphon, and the back and hind legs of a horse. It is a large powerful creature that can move through the air more swiftly than lightning. It figured in several of the legends of Charlemagne as a mount for some of the knights. And since many types of gryphons exist, including a variation involving an eagle head and forepaws, this rendition of this legendary creature is really quite realistic. I do wish people would research before criticizing.

While this movie is far from Oscar-worthy, it is quite entertaining and does its best to follow the main theme of the literary work. While I was a bit put off by the changes, I must acquiesce that Cuarón did a most excellent job in adapting the largest and longest Harry Potter literary alteration so far with the lowest running time of any Harry Potter film yet. Thus far, this is my favorite for film style and maintaining the appropriate atmosphere in accordance with the novel, though I do hope Gambon can pull off the rigors of the next two attempts. A lot will ride on his ability to BE Dumbledore.

It rates an 8.4/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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Best film of the three so far!
JShado_13 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
POA was by far the best of the three Harry Potter films. The actors (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint) have gained more confidence in their abilities. They have become more and more like the characters they play in their own life which has shown in the films.

Besides the acting, the film was better shoot than the previous two: In the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the parts picked were sometimes less important than the parts left out. A great deal of the stuff from the books was cut in the other two movies, but this was not the case in this one: It appeared that there were only two scenes out of order from which they happened in the books; Harry receiving the Firebolt (at the end of the film, but early in the book,) and Harry's Patronus (supposed to be a Stag, galloping down the Dementors, but was a dome-shaped shield in film.) Other than those two inconsistencies with the books, the film was virtually flawless; the CG improved a great deal; the Dementors had nearly the same affect as they did in the books – to the reader/viewer.

To most fans, the best part of the movie was by far was the scene where Hermione socked Draco in the nose (another very slight deviation from the books, but perfectly acceptable!)
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Terrible Overall
skodousek27 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I thought that this movie was a terrible waste of my time. There really wasn't a beginning and an ending, and I felt as if everything was rushed. The movie starts out with Harry sitting up in bed... DOING MAGIC! Underage wizards aren't allowed to do magic outside of school! Anyway, he does this about 5 times, then he lays back down and goes to sleep. With a blank screen, you hear his aunt shouting at him, but she doesn't sound anything like in the first and second movies. The next few shots are live-action, and very inaccurate to the book. Skipping to the ending... I honestly have to say that I am furious about the ending. Harry receives a broomstick in the mail, and flies with it. The movie ends when... he is flying on his broom in a pause-shot!? Honestly! The entire movie is BAD, and I really don't recommend it to anyone who has read the books. People who have just seen the movies... well that's just great because it doesn't make any sense. Okay, and just a warning, the dementors don't even have feelings in this movie (like they did in the book!!!).
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