Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (DVD, 2009, Spanish Audio Sticker)

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Something Wicked This Way Comes : Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Jun 5, 2004 (Updated Jul 22, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The acting, the story, the dark themes, the great Directing

Cons:That now I am already looking forward to Part 4

The Bottom Line: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a great film, and does the first two movies, and i would assume the books as well, very proud!


I should preface this review by saying that I am not a big fan of Harry Potter and the series of books that have given birth to him. When I say I am not a big fan, I mean that I have never even picked up one of the books by J. K. Rowling, nor do I intend to in the near future. But, when it comes to the films I have enjoyed each one. That being said, I am a fan of the movies, giving an opinion based only on what I know from the movies, and not the deep backgrounds that I am sure exist in the book. Nonetheless, I feel I can give a good review of the movie, and I feel I can be quite honest in that it will show no bias to words the books being better than the films.


I saw both of the first two films on video, and I will add that it came with a reluctance, that I am embarrassed to admit now. When the first one hit theaters a few years back, I did not have any interest in seeing it. Then the second one hit the theaters, and I still had not seen the first one. Well, my roommate at the time was a huge fan, and had read all of the books. So, when she bought the 2-disc set of the first one, she urged me to sit down and give it a try. Boy was I surprised. The movie was nothing like what I had expected to see. It was my belief that the story was not going to be very well thought out, and that when I watched it, that I would not be able to suspend my disbelief of the topics being dealt will. I could not have been more wrong, as I sat there glued to the screen wondering what would happen in the next scene. I couldn't wait to see the second one, but I had missed it in the theaters. Luckily, my roommate came through again, and had it on DVD. I watched The Sorcerers Stone, and soon became a fan of the movies. Though I was still not inclined to try out the books, I knew that eventually I would end up seeing part III when it got to theaters.


A quick little background on all of the stories, is that they revolve around a group of students that attend Hog Wart's school of magic. They are all children ranging from around 10 to what appears to be high school age students. The main character of all the stories is of course Harry Potter himself. He is a kid who has been orphaned by parents who were killed by a man whose name cannot be mentioned by any characters in the films. He goes by the name of Lord Voldemort, and saying his name seems to give strength to the essence that he is. I am sure if you read the books, it would give more explanation of this, but I actually like being a little bit in the dark about it. Each one of the movies revolves around 1 year of school for the students involved. Also, in the first two of the movies, Christopher Columbus served as the Director and did quite a good job doing. But, he thought that it was time to move on, and this film was given to a new Director. So, Harry Potter has dealt with a lot of evil in the first two movies, and that leads us straight into Part 3.


Alfonso Cuaron was tapped to be the Director of "Prisoner of Azkaban", and it seemed like a risk to lots of fans, because nobody knew just what direction that Cuaron would take the series. Up to this point, he had only directed one other notable feature in the United States, and that was Great Expectations staring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke. I too had some doubts about the switching of Directors, but as soon as I started seeing the trailers for this one, I could see why they were going in a different direction. While the first two films had dealt with the balance that exists between good and evil, this one was going to deal with mostly the evil elements that exist in magic. This film was looking to be something that would be right up my alley, because it meant that they would not be focusing a lot of the time on shear character development, but rather on a tight knit story-line.


As I stated this movie revolves around Harry's 3rd Year at Hogwarts, and the movie starts out with dark intentions from the start. A sinister prisoner, Sirius Black, has escaped the Azkaban Prison. Azkaban is the prison where people who have done something evil in the magic community are sent. In a prior movie, we saw one of the characters involved be sent there, though wrongfully, so the audience has been made aware that the prison exists. However, we have not been told about all of the evil that lurks there. Brought into the series is Gary Oldman, who plays the role of Sirius Black. He does it quite well, and early on you can see that once again Oldman is a gem in the part that he was given. The only problem, is that Sirius Black is not the only thing that Harry, and his two best friends, Ronald Weasley (played by Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (played by Emma Watson) will have to deal with. The people who guard Azkaban Prison, have been sent to track down Black, and in doing so with be guarding the entrances to Hog Wart's until they catch their man. These creatures are called "Dementors", and they are tasked with bringing back Black, no matter what the cost. They feel no compassion, and the students are warned from the start not to cross paths with them. They turn out to be a great addition to the story, and the conclusion involves several scenes with them.


As the shadow of darkness starts to hang over Hog Wart's, the story starts to kick into full gear. Harry has a few new teachers at the school, and all of his old enemies are back at the school as well. Harry and his pals are put at the center of the story, as he realizes how Sirius Black has a tie to his past, and soon Harry realizes that there are more secrets than there are answers for him to know. As the story progresses, Harry faces many decisions that he has not faces in the previous films, and it will all depend on how much he has matured as a young man, and a conductor of magic. Can he save the day again? Can good still prevail over evil? Only seeing the movie will answer those questions for you.


This was by far my favorite of the 3 Harry Potter movies. The dark themes, the sub-text between the characters, and the fact that it all appears to lead to something even bigger for the films to come, all played into my decision that I likes this one best. Cuaron does an exemplary job in making the film scary, while at the same time sticking to the main themes that were developed in the first two films. Rather than some franchises, where when they switch directors the following films go down-hill, Cuaron has come in and improved the franchise. I would not be surprised at all if this one makes more money, and does better that either of the first two. Those people who fell in love with the movies based on the others, will also be very satisfied with the end result of this one.

I don't want to give too much of the main story away, because that is what makes it such a good movie. Being able to trust that it will be a good film, and watching it without knowing too much about it is a great way to be surprised by a film. That is how I went into this one. All I knew was that they were going to deal with a prisoner that was escaping, and for some reason he was going to come after Harry Potter. The only thing that I didn't like about the film, were there were parts that could have been slowed down. Rather than rush through some of the scenes, I think that if Cuaron had slowed it down just a little, he could have gotten more of a dramatic effect out of it. Though, by the same token, I think that the effort to keep it in a respectable time limit is probably a good idea for the audience that he is Directing for.


If you only see one of the films, and have not seen either of the other two, it is still possible to see this one, and have a good time seeing it. It does a great job of making sure that the character are explained again, and it also helps that they are all re-introduced. For some of us, we need that anyways, because we forget some of the names if we haven't seen the movies in a while. I highly recommend that anyone interested in the genre or to anyone that even slightly likes Harry Potter, that you go see this movie. I saw it on opening night, in a packed theater, and it helped with the whole experience. I would even claim that this is the 3rd best part 3 to any story that I have seen in movies. Right behind Return of the King and Return of the Jedi. This movie is also suitable for all ages, because it was able to skate in with a PG rating. So, see it, enjoy it, and look forward to the next installment coming out in 2 years.



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