Home | Reviews | Exclusive Writings | Great Links | Miscellaneous | FAQ | Contact Us

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban /

Rated: PG

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Produced by: Chris Columbus, David Heyman
Written by: Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling
Distributor: Warner Brothers


Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

     I suppose you could say that the replacement of the previous Harry Potter movies’ director, Chris Columbus, with the acclaimed Alfonso Cuarón, was a smart one. Cuarón has a knack for the material; his work in The Prisoner of Azkaban is lighter and more enriching than anything in the first two films. However, with it, he has also destroyed everything Columbus had worked for in them, straying from the style that fans have come to love. This installment in the series is the strongest one, but does this really matter when it is so desperately out of place? For starters, Hogwarts, as we know it, now seems like an entirely different setting. Not to mention the characters’ personalities (Draco Malfoy’s in particular) have changed quite a bit. I really liked Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban but I just couldn’t become accustomed to this change. Yes, maybe I would be calling this a masterful picture if Cuarón had directed the first two, and his techniques seemed usual. But I just can’t bear to see Harry’s embodiment morphing. I just can’t.

      This time around, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe, who is now quite a fine actor) is supposedly being chased by Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), the only Azkaban-prison escapee ever. Black was responsible for telling Voldemort where Harry’s parents were before he killed them, according to the magical realm’s experts. With his escape from Azkaban, it is feared that he has come to finish the Potters off, once and for all, by taking down the sole survivor of Voldemort’s attack. Surprises are certainly in store for those who have not read the book come the film’s end; I became increasingly entertained as it rolled on. Perhaps this is simply because I was more adjusted to Cuarón’s style, rather than an explanation for an ascent in quality on the part of the movie. Seeing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a second time will further prove its worthiness. I will be able to instantly know what to expect on the part of the director, allowing me to focus more on the story and the evolution of the characters. Doing such could almost be taken as a sort of test or experiment of my willingness to adapt to new material. 

     There are presumable advances in this outing, despite its setbacks. Most of these involve the special effects, which are astounding in every sense. There is pure visual wonder here, albeit more artificial than that of its predecessors. The best computed-creation is the Hypogriff, a creature Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), now a professor at Hogwarts, has a bit of a disastrous hands-on experience teaching his class about. The Hypogriff is, simply put, a half-bird, half-horse. However, the only way one can really understand its look is to see it. The images in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are that unwordly. The werewolves in the movie were surely assembled terrifically, as well.

     Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), who took a back seat to Harry and Ron (Rupert Grint) in the first two flicks, steals the show in The Prisoner of Azkaban. She’s a very funny, bubbly, and adventurous character, introducing an interesting plot-twist of sorts near the end of the movie. Watson has proved herself to be an extremely gifted actress, and probably the best of the group of three friends. Her work here is best described as ferocious, usually bringing either comedic relief or some sort of silly profoundness to each scene that she’s in.

     It is kind of ironic that J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, was very hesitant about allowing her work to be adapted into movies. The theory behind this was that children should imagine the look and feel of each character, rather than having these force-fed to them on a multiplex screen. This is also why there are no pictures in any of the series’ novels. Her worries have most definitely been falsified, despite the fact that every character does look and act a certain way. But the sheer imagination that these movies possess is extraordinary; it would be impossible to call them clear-cut, as Rowling feared they would be. Cuarón makes things even more outlandish in The Prisoner of Azkaban, which I assume will please the writer of his source material, even though I’m still quite iffy about the method, myself. There is no doubt that this film is extremely deserving, and well worth your hard-earned buck, though. Watching it is like being transported into a world of joyful sensation for two and a half hours, and there is truly nothing better than partaking in an experience of such a sort. This is a pure motion picture, fully absorbing in every way possible.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (6.4.2004)


Back to Home
The Bucket Review's Rating Scale