Ossus Library Index Fantasy Movie Index

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron (2004, Warner Bros.)
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson

In their third year of wizard school, Harry, Ron and Hermione become targets of the person who betrayed Harry's parents.

 

 

+

August 28th, 2015 on DVD, for the third time  
   

I'm not sure why the director decided to put the Something Wicked This Way Comes song in the entrance to the arrival at Hogwarts. It made for an awkward moment, though thankfully they didn't dwell on it. I've always liked time travel storylines, and this one was well made. But I have realized, since reading the novel, how much the movie is actually lacking, though I understood a lot more than I did in the previous viewings. 

 

 

4 stars

December 28th, 2009 on DVD, for the second time  
   

I had forgotten how good this movie was -better in many ways than any of the movies that have followed. I like the darkness of it, and always like time-travel done well, as this was. There was a lot of humor, in spite of the darkness overshadowing everything. As serious as this movie was, it still had time to poke fun at Hermione and Ron, especially when she suddenly appears in various classes.

 

 

4 stars

June 10th, 2004 in the Theatre, for the first time  
   

Different from the previous two movies in the series, this one was better in some ways, and not as good in others.

More than the other movies, this one focused on the three main characters to the exclusion of the others. Malefoy is reduced to a couple of snarling scenes -and he has become a wimp, too, crying and running away when Buckbeak and Hermione get the better of him. I don't like where his character has gone. A couple of other students also get seen, but very briefly.

Of all the teachers, only the new one, Professor Lupin, gets any development. McGonegal is in only one real scene, and Dumbledore gets in a couple of small sentences. The new actor isn't quite the same as the old, except for the remarkable job the make-up department did. At least he doesn't mumble as much, but his mannerisms are not as funny, either.

My favorite teacher is Snape, who unfortunately gets knocked out by Harry at the end, but Harry doesn't get punished for it, as usual. I like Snape so much because he doesn't bend over backwards for Harry. The other teachers go out of their way to accommodate him, but for some unknown reason, Snape does not. In fact, he makes their lives harder, because he treats them like regular students, when they are used to privilege. I loved the way he chastised Hermione for speaking out of turn.

I wish this series would show us more of what happens in school. I love the classroom scenes. I love watching the students learn magic; at least this film shows more than we saw in Chamber of Secrets.

The movie doesn't have much plot, to speak of. Basically, Harry gets into a little mischief, and worries about Sirius Black catching him. The major problem with this movie is that we don't get enough information about the guy who escaped from the prison of Azkaban. All the evidence given here indicates that he was imprisoned for showing Valdemort where Harry's parents were hiding, so that they ended up being killed. When he escapes, everybody thinks he is after Harry. However, it turns out that he was innocent. How was he convicted, in that case? What kind of evidence was heard to convict him? Probably the same lame and unconvincing evidence that was used to convict Hagrid back in Chamber of Secrets.

As usual, Harry, Ron and Hermione run around after hours, on and off of campus, whenever they want, doing whatever they want, without consequences. I think Snape knows that even though he found Harry roaming the corridors, nothing he does will get the boy punished -he wasn't even punished for using magic outside Hogwarts! Snape should have at least deducted points, even if he believed the sleepwalking story.

I enjoyed much of their antics, regardless of their lack of proper supervision. My favorite part, as I think is expected, is the time travel by Harry and Hermione. Ron was always hilarious when she appeared suddenly in their classes! But it is when the two travel back in time, and save Buckbeak (who had terrorized Malefoy), lure away the werewolf (actually Professor Lupin), and confront the enforcers, that I really appreciated the slight complexity in the plot. Of course, I couldn't help but think, as I always do in time-travel stories such as these, of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure!

I had wondered from the beginning why Lupin had scratches across his face, walked one day with a crutch, and so on, and was thankful for the reason why -and especially thankful that nobody explicitly pointed it out, until the end. I think Hermione figured out the transformation too easily, but I think it's a safe bet that Harry's father was also a shape-shifter. Lupin, Black and Peter Pettigrew (the man who actually betrayed Harry's parents) were all shape-shifters, and they were all close friends of Harry's father, so I think it follows quite well. I wonder if Harry inherited any of those abilities. The strange thing is how the betrayer was Ron's rat all this time. The man escapes when things get tough near the end, and I expect to see him again in a future movie.

I liked the deception that was played out at the end of the movie, with Sirius Black apparently saying that he wanted to kill Harry, and Lupin apparently giving him permission, when they were actually after Pettigrew, in Ron's lap. I am not so sure about Lupin's about-face, however. All through the movie, he was certain that Black was after Harry, and that Black was the betrayer. But in the shack, he knows it was Pettigrew. When did Lupin and Black discuss this, to make the teacher change his mind?

I liked many of the little details in the movie, especially the whomping willow! I loved watching bird after bird get clobbered! The map that Harry followed was the kind of magic that I enjoy seeing the most in this movie. Harry's trips outside, under the invisibility cloak, were quite funny, though I don't know how he got out of the closed room where he was eavesdropping without being heard.

Compared to Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets, I also liked the way the Dark Arts teacher was replaced, because of his werewolf shapeshifting, instead of actually being evil and dying.

I didn't notice the music this time around, because of all the distractions in the theatre -this is the first time we attended cine-babies, where the sound is slightly lowered, and babies are invited to the movies! There are places set up for changing their diapers, and we got a free Harry Potter Lego bus! The place was packed, and although most of the babies were quiet, there was always a little commotion, making it hard to hear whispers and some sound effects. But it was pretty cool!

In all, the style of the movie was better than in the previous films. The directing was visible in many scenes, where things grew quite complex. The acting was also on its usual great level (and Hermione is getting prettier every year). However, the plot didn't really do anything, and there were serious holes where things should have been explained in more detail. Still, I thought the movie was great, and look forward to seeing it again -without the screaming babies.

 
   

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