Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
New things come to Hogwarts. With the start of year three comes a new director, a new look, and a new tone to the series. Something wicked this way comes in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
It is instantly clear that this is a different kind of movie. After the brighter, more light hearted feel of the first two films, year three comes in darker and more mature. The color pallet is noticeably more subdued creating a darker mood that reflects the new direction of the series. As Harry gets older and becomes a little more mature, so too does the world around him grow and become more serious. New story elements introduced in this flick add depth to the wizarding world while the new look of the film brings the series a bit closer to reality. The story and it’s pacing work really well here too; there are some great plot twists throughout creating an engaging narrative that lasts the whole of the film. The tension surrounding Sirius Black is particularly effective and it all culminates to and exciting and interesting climax that reveals much of Harry’s past and give a great sense of history to the world.
This third instalment of the Potter franchise ups the ante of the dramatics with a flick that’s chock full of great actors and performances. Dan Radcliffe turns in a performance as Harry that’s clearly more mature and more emotionally driven. Rickman plays Snape to perfection again. David Thewlis is the new teacher in this year and displays great complexity as Professor Lupin. Remus Lupin’s story arc is well written and he is acted with equal finesse. Michael Gambon steps in as Dumbledore and shows a headmaster that is wise and powerful yet clearly aged. But it’s Sirius Black that stands out in this film. Gary Oldman comes in as Sirius Black and brings great dramatic depth to the character. It’s fun to watch him play with the fear that surrounds the character and then break through that and show a genuine and vulnerability to Sirius.
This film has a much more personal, with Harry, feeling to it because of how it’s shot and edited. Harry’s perspective of the story is much more evident making him an even more relatable character. The signs that Harry is growing up and that his life is growing more complex with him are abundant here and make for an entertaining ride. The climax of the film uses a sci-fi cliched element that works really well and is a very interesting plot device. Its also clear that this film franchise really picked up its steam here; the school itself looks it’s best and it actually looks like it structurally makes sense, each character has their own discernible quality and styles to them, and the film’s quality certainly went in a more contemporary direction making it a little more enticing to a broader audience.