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November 12, 2018

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) --- “The Time Has Come Where Everything Will Change. Secrets Will Unfold, Characters Will Be Tested, And Darkness Will Descend.”

Plot Summary
Harry Potter's (Daniel Radcliffe) third year at Hogwarts starts off badly when he learns deranged killer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison and is bent on murdering the teenage wizard. While Hermione's (Emma Watson) cat torments Ron's (Rupert Grint) sickly rat, causing a rift among the trio, a swarm of nasty Dementors is sent to protect the school from Black. A mysterious new teacher helps Harry learn to defend himself, but what is his secret tie to Sirius Black? (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Taking over from Chris Columbus (The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets), director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) along with writer Steve Kloves excellently bring a much darker tone to the series with this third installment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). The film follows Harry and Co. in their third year at Hogwarts and this year the atmosphere is tense. Mass murderer Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban, the Dementors (the foul guards of Azkaban) are being stationed around the school, and there is a traitor in their midst.

     Not everything from the book can be added to the film because Rowling writes with such attention to detail that in order to fully capture everything she wrote the film would have to be made into a mini-series. I appreciate the artistry and attention to detail that director Cuarón and writer Kloves brought to the film and that they came as close as they could to the book while also creating something that is unique and beautiful. The film walks a fine line between encompassing the scary aspects of the book and the humorous ones so that neither feels out of place or takes more precedence than the other. All the little details that take place in both the foreground and background of a scene add to the effect of the film. One really gets the feeling of exploring the richness and breadth that is the world of Harry Potter.
     The story is remarkably faithful to book without feeling like a regurgitation of the story. There are multiple themes running throughout the film and each add value to the core of the story. Time is a very important theme of the story and the film makes good use of it, primarily once the students get to Hogwarts. You can start to see little hints at time throughout the film. Notice the gigantic pendulum swinging back and forth in the entrance hall and the massive gears of a clock that are always moving in the big window at the front of the school. Even the music starts to take on a steady rhythm like that of a ticking clock towards the end. Of course, time is not the only theme in the film.
     The duality of life and the importance of loyalty is a theme that also circulates heavily throughout the story. We see it in the interactions and conversations between Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) and Prof. Lupin (David Thewlis) where Harry and the audience learn that not everything is as black and white as we thought but rather everything or everyone is capable of being both good and bad. There is also the importance of light as a visual theme that also carries from beginning to end. Harry has essentially been living in the dark about most of his past and we see how his search for clarity ultimately ends with the light of a Patronus.  He has matured throughout the film and by the end, it is clear that he is ready to begin a new chapter in his life, one where he is strong and self-reliant.
     The visuals and special effects are amazing and really do the story justice as it captures both the wonders and the horrors that reside in the world of Harry Potter; the Dementors were especially chilling. The cast as always gave superb performances. New additions, David Thewlis (War Horse and Man of Steel) as Remus Lupin, Gary Oldman (Hannibal) as Sirius Black, Emma Thompson (The Children Act) as Professor Trelawney, Timothy Spall (The Last Samurai) as Peter Pettigrew were great in their respective roles. And Michael Gambon (The Actors) successfully takes over for the late Richard Harris as a more hippy version of Albus Dumbledore.

     Overall, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) was a much darker installment into the HP series and worked excellently. Director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) and writer Steve Kloves successfully brought this film to life by keeping the core of the story and paying attention all the little details both in the foreground and the background of a scene. There were numerous themes throughout the film and when combined help the story walk a fine line between being dark and scary and being light and humorous. The visuals and special effects were amazing as they showcase the wonders and horrors of Harry Potter’s world, while the cast all gave superb performances. I highly recommend this film to both new and old fans of the series, as well as those who have never given this series a chance yet.

"For in dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own. Let him swim in the deepest ocean or glide over the highest cloud."
- Dumbledore [to Professor Snape]

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  8.2 of 10 star
Worth Buying:  8.2 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
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Chronicles of Narnia 1: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Chronicles of Narnia 2: Prince Caspian (2008)
Chronicles of Narnia 3: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
Eragon (2006)
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016)
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them 2 (2018)
Golden Compass (2007)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
Oz The Great and Powerful (2013)
Pan (2015)
Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007)
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)

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