THE WIZARDING MARATHON OF HARRY POTTER: Our next stop is Azkaban with “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” It stars Daniel Radcliffe (Horns, What If), Rupert Grint (Moonwalkers, Charlie Countryman), Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah), Robbie Coltrane (Brave, GoldenEye), Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow , Gosford Park), Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Downton Abbey [TV series]), Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Galaxy Quest), Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Dark Knight), David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, Seven Years in Tibet), Timothy Spall (Enchanted, Secrets & Lies), Mark Williams (Father Brown [TV series], Flutter), Julie Walters (Brave, Brooklyn), Emma Thomspon (Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually), Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep, After the Dark), Jason Isaacs (The Patriot, Peter Pan ), Richard Griffiths (Bedtime Stories, The History Boys), Harry Melling (Joe Mistry [TV movie], Winds of Change [short]), Fiona Shaw (True Blood [TV series], We Believed), Warwick Davis (Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Oliver Phelps (Danny and the Human Zoo [TV movie], Own Worst Enemy), James Phelps (Ward 3, Patchwork), Robert Hardy (All Creatures Great and Small [TV series], Sense and Sensibility), Tom Felton (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Against the Sun), Matthew Lewis (Bluestone 42 [TV series], Me Before You), and David Bradley (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Strain [TV series]). It is directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men) and the screenplay is written by Steve Kloves (Racing with the Moon, Flesh and Bone). It is based on the novel of the same name by J.K. Rowling. Heading back to Hogwarts for a third year, Harry Potter (Radcliffe) must be protected as a man by the name of Sirius Black (Oldman), who escaped for Azkaban and wants to kill him. While at Hogwarts, Harry gets a new “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher who knew Harry’s parents and wants to walk Harry through his third year as well as keep him safe.
This has got to be the oddest film out of the whole series. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen most of these movies, but I know enough to assume that this one was off. When this picture first started, it was actually really good. These movies always start at the Dursley’s and we get to see more mischief come from Harry. What was surprising, and a breath of fresh air, was to see Harry leave their house and roam his town. From that point, I thought that this would be on a “Sorcerer’s Stone” level. But then we get to the middle of the film. The further I went into this movie, the more I felt that something wasn’t right. The third act was the final blow to this assumption, because something was definitely odd. What made this so bizarre? It’s story felt so out-of-tune compared to the rest. While the other films focus on Voldemort and Hogwarts history, this one takes a position on werewolves and time travel. I want to say that the central conflict, the one with Serious Black on the loose, seemed promising from the start. They introduce Dementors in this, and they are interesting and dark characters that I enjoy to watch, but the more I watched of this film, the more the storyline went askew. It got to the point where I could care less about Serious Black because it just wasn’t as interesting as the other films’ conflicts. Once werewolves came into the picture, my eyebrow raised and I asked myself “where is this thing going?” I will admit that this movie’s werewolves look cool. The special effects in this have gotten better and the visual effects for the werewolves actually look awesome. They aren’t some buff dudes with their shirts off constantly who turn into normal looking dogs. These actually look creepy and gross. But this aspect of the movie is more of a character conflict than a story one. So when it started creeping into the story, it became obnoxious. Then, when I thought this release’s focus couldn’t get more jumbled, they bring about time travel. The last thirty minutes of the movie gave way to Harry and Hermione traveling back in time to save Sirius Black. It was good to see them tie up some loose ends in their adventure, but with time travel there are always questions to be asked. My main one is how the heck Dumbledore (Gambon) knew that all of this would happen ahead of time and give Hermione the device at the beginning of the year. That would mean that he would have gone forward in time, but if he did that, why didn’t he just fix the problem? What you should get out of this is that this picture’s story (or stories) is way different from the others. Sure, it is interesting at times, but I can’t help but feel that the script writers or J.K. Rowling did not know what they were doing. Besides the story, the acting was really good in this. Like I’ve said before, the growing age of these kids helps a lot. All of them did a great job. I will say that I am sad that Richard Harris could not be in this movie because of his death. He was a great actor and I loved his portrayal of Dumbledore. Michael Gambon will fill the shoes well though, as he does a great job in later releases as well as this one. Something that this movie built on is the repetitiveness in its story, a con I expressed in the previous film. It definitely did not have the same structure as the others, and the quittich match was different as well. I really enjoyed the quittich match scene. Other random cons I found in this would include the special effects. I know, I said they got better, but this movie relies more on the visual effects than any of the others so far. I loved how we explored more of Hogwarts and actually got outside, but some of these scenes included very noticeable green screen backgrounds and made them feel fake. What helped the other films was that they had real rooms since they were in Hogwarts most of the time. Another con, which would be my last, is the editing style. I said that this flick isn’t like the others, but it is repetitive in transitions from one scene to another. The director loves to transition a scene by pulling the corners of the screen until a small circle in the middle is left, fading into darkness. This was great at first, but then it kept happening over and over again. Also, the last scene, where Harry flew on his broom ended rather awkwardly with Harry’s face flying into the camera, freezing in a weird position that my sister (who was watching it with me) and I laughed at. Although several issues plague this movie, it is still entertaining nonetheless. I’m sure a lot of people enjoyed this judging by its ratings online, and if you haven’t seen this, I would still recommend you do if you want to have a marathon of these. FINAL SCORE: 76%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: