Projections - Movie Reviews

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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

Daniel Radcliffe is Harry Potter for the third time and at 14 years old, he’s more capable of handling some pretty creepy goings-on. This is probably a good thing as the Alfonso Cuaron directed film is much darker than the previous J.K. Rowling books.

Harry returns with his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine (Emma Wtson) for another year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft, and a couple of things remain the same, like mean Professor Snaps (Alan Rickman) is still feared by all, and Dumbledore is the same wise, endearing headmaster (only this time he’s played by Michael Gabone, who replaced the late Richard Harris). However, a lot of things have changed at the school.

A couple of new teachers are on hand; Emma Thompson as a near-sighted seer and David Thewles as Professor Lupin, a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. These additions are benign however, compared to a slew of black-hooded flying witch-like creatures called Dementors, who suck out the soul of humans, and an escaped convict by the name of Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who’s out to harm Harry.

Although, the imagination of the two previous Potter films is still intact, there’s a hole where the fun should be. The most lighthearted moment has Harry soaring on a Hippogriff, a cross between an eagle and a horse. Even the celebrated Quidditch match is played in a sleet storm against a blackened sky.

The school is ever the magical kingdom, filled with moving staircases, pictures that come to life and cupboards that might house a nasty changeling. Those things are still entertaining, I just longed for more spells and laughter and lighthearted fun to be mixed with the more intense scenes (did I mention a vicious werewolf shows up?)

Although I missed the fairy tale aspect of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkanban, the older kids in the packed theater didn’t seem to be put off by the scary creatures and too-long (114 minutes) tale.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


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