#144 / 365 – ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ (2004) – 141 mins
Cinema Challenge #59 / 115
Having misbehaved with the muggles after losing his temper while on holiday, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) fully expects to be punished when he returns to Hogwarts. But it seems the magical authorities are otherwise occupied. Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), an acolyte of Lord Voldemort who was involved in the death of Harry’s parents, has escaped from Azkaban prison. The fear is that he’s now coming for Harry, so sinister Dementors have been stationed at the school to protect students.
Day 3 of the wizardry adventures. Having picked up Chris Columbus magical wand, new director Alfonso Cuarón (‘Children of Men’)brings a sudden and more moodier change with Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban, as it explores new depths of J.K. Rowling’s magical world. Along with resident Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves, Cuarón conveys a new level of sophistication to the storytelling to make it richer and more satisfying than the two previous films. He also conjures up some visually astounding sequences – the faceless soul-sucking Dementors who eerily stalk the grounds of Hogwarts. Also there is more humour injected into this third adventure, at times this welcome but at others it does seems oddly out-of-place for such a dark evolving world.
Not forgetting the great characters like Dumbledore (Michael Gambon replacing the late Richard Harris), the delightful booming voice of Alan Rickman returns as Severus Snape, also there are some new additions, David Thewlis playing a ‘Defense Against the Dark Arts’ teacher with a secret of his own, Emma Thompson’s eccentric crystal gazer and Gary Oldman is perfectly cast as Sirius Black.
With Alfonso Cuarón’s dynamic direction that paces itself well ‘Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban’ is a fantastic piece of filmmaking with lasting value and easily for me the best of the franchise yet.