In the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry doesn't even know he's a wizard. During his induction to the magical world of flying broomsticks and bubbly potions, he gapes wide-eyed at his surroundings, every bit overwhelmed by his transition from abused child to famous hero. In Chamber of Secrets, he gains a few inches, fights a few more bad guys and gets a little more thick-skinned, but still remains a kid in a dangerous world.
By now, Harry's so over that.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is a mood-swinging, puberty-stricken teenager—and looks every bit the part. He wears baggy sweatshirts and jeans. He'll make sarcastic jokes. He'll shout at you if he's angry. And through it all he's a more realistic and relatable character, which is the icing on the cake to this well-made adaptation of the third book in the popular series.
It's crucial to show Harry's maturation because author J.K. Rowling's odyssey about the boy wizard is, at its heart, a personal, internal journey. In each movie, as in each book, as a little more of the mystery is revealed, so is Harry's strength of character. In keeping with the tradition of the book, director Alfonso Cúaron slowly develops Harry Potter as a real person, instead of simply a one-dimensional token hero.
In the beginning, Harry exhibits his newly-developed angry attitude by storming out of his controlling aunt and uncle's house and heading to London. There he learns about the infamous murderer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), alleged to be You-know-who's former right-hand-man, who just broke out of the wizard prison Azkaban. He later finds out that Black has escaped solely to hunt down and murder Harry (as vengeance against Harry for bringing the downfall of Voldemort) and will stop at nothing until the deed is done.
And as if Harry doesn't have enough on his mind, he now has to deal with the dementors, vicious soul-sucking creatures that prowl Hogwarts, Harry's school, for Black. Dementors force people to relive their worst memories, trapping them inside their minds; Harry, who had particularly terrible horrors in his past, faints whenever they come too close.
With a killer on the loose and demons so evil they freeze the ground the roam over, Prisoner of Azkaban has a much darker tone than the first two Harry Potter movies. The picture even seems to have a darker tint as to exemplify the more serious ambiance. That said, this movie is still funnier than its predecessors. The humor comes from the characters themselves; for instance, Harry's sarcasm, Ron's wit and Dumbledore's quirkiness are all trademarks of the characters that fans can appreciate.
The acting has improved immensely as well, but that may be because of the attention to character in this installment. Radcliffe, as well as Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron) are comfortable in their character's shoes now and are able to execute nicely. Oldman, Michael Gambon (who takes over for the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore), David Thewlis (Professor Lupin) and Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney) add to the interesting plotline and bring their characters to life.
Of course, the movie doesn't cast a perfect spell. Die-hard fans will be upset to see that Cúron fails to elaborate about how the Marauder's Map came into existence or directly divulge the true identities of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. Additionally, the film essentially has two climaxes, and the first feels rushed and somewhat dumbed down for younger audiences.
Nevertheless, Prisoner of Azkaban proves that the third time is the charm, with a film that is, thank goodness, more mature than the first two but still fun and acceptable for younger fans. Cúaron diverged from the exact plot of the book, which can be annoying, but still managed to make something magical.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is rated PG for frightening moments, creature violence and mild language.
Melanie Thompson. Melanie Thompson is currently a junior in CAP and a page editor on Silver Chips. She enjoys hot baths, appearing aside famous stars in movies, and watching Agent Vaughn on Alias. A little known fact about Melanie is that she is a huge fan of … More »