Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Harry-Potter-3

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Just gets better.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but usually film series usually start out with a bang, have a seemingly lackluster sequel, then an overall satisfying conclusion for a third film. Rarely ever does the second film in a series reign superior over the first, but the Chamber of Secrets was clearly better. Then Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban shows up kicking Chamber’s tail. I rarely notice a film series that continually gets better with each addition, but that is what is happening thus far.

Harry Potter is growing up fast, and he’s headed back to Hogwarts for another fun-filled year. This time around, we have Dementors, guardians of Azkaban Prison that are out looking for escaped killer, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). Meanwhile, Hagrid’s pet Hippogriff is scheduled to be put to death. Can Harry, Hermione, and Ron evade the killer fugitive while finding a way to save the hippogriff? Will they run out of time? Or will time be just the element they need in order to set everything back on track?

Well lookie here, the movies are just…increasingly getting better, all around. The actors again are aging fast. Faster than you’d expect. The tone is remaining consistently balanced between the perfect amount of light and dark, and the visuals are so much better – once again. I cannot tell a lie, by Prisoner of Azkaban, I am completely sold and blown away by the incredible visuals. Because I have seen all of these films in the past before, I know there are plenty of visuals yet to admire, but I’m already sold, the people involved with the cinematography and special effects were doing their job remarkably well. I could take my time praising this scene or that, but that would just take so long.

Here’s where it gets interesting for me. Other critics would clearly disagree with me on this one, but I wasn’t as pulled in by this film’s story as much as I was with the elements of the story. The story could have been better in my opinion. The thing was…Sirius Black is an awesome name, and the aspect of a missing fugitive is exciting, but as for where the film is going? I’m not entirely sure…oh my, an escaped villain and scary cloaked figures. Time to go pet the Hippogriff…I wasn’t so enthralled by the story. Like I said, I did love the elements of the story. I loved how they took the characters to new locations and angles, how they expertly disguised plot points for later discovery, and I really loved the newly introduced characters. These things helped me enjoy the film as a whole, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the story.

As mentioned in my previous reviews, I must now take a minute to describe the elements that make Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban differ from the others:

  • Introduction of Dementors and “Expecto Patronum”
  • Introduction of Sirius Black
  • Hippogriff
  • Marauder’s Map
  • Time Travel Necklace

Again, these are the things that come to mind first thing when thinking of this film.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a beautifully shot film with incredible visuals and a solid story intelligently constructed. At this point, each film in the Harry Potter franchised has raised a certain bar, and each time, the corresponding film matched that bar and raised it even higher. I hope to see the franchise continually get better, and I seriously hope to see some of Ralph Fiennes. Because I saw the entire series within a couple days in the past, all of the films mash together, and Ralph Fiennes is one of the most memorable portrayals of a villain…hopefully I’ll see him soon enough.

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