The kids are growing up; the danger more 'Sirius'
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is the third movie in the Harry Potter franchise, based on the very popular children's book series. Please do keep in mind that this movie is based on the book, which means that as good as the movie is, reading the book is better.
That having been said, our hero Harry and his school friends are entering their third year of education at a magical high school named Hogwarts. There is an undercurrent of fear circulating in the wizarding world, as a notorious killer has become the first convict to escape from prison and is on the loose. For the most part, Harry has a good year at school. He has an excellent teacher (who was also a dear friend of Harry's deceased parents), Harry gains possession of a magical map, and he gets to visit the nearby town on a day-trip. However, when Harry learns that the escaped convict (named Sirius Black) is suspected to be the man whose treason led to the death of Harry's parents, he becomes consumed with anger and revenge. Harry is other being bothered by another problem...terrifying spectral beings (called Dementors) whose job it is to hunt down Sirius Black...but they will attack any student who gets in their way (Harry included).
The first half of the movie sets the tone and mood and motivations, and the second half packs the punch. Director Alfonso Cuaron does a very good job of bringing to the screen the rather difficult and confusing concept of time-travel, in which the lead characters occupy the same time frame, but we see the action from a different point of view. The second half of the film has the most action, with chills, spills and spells...then we discover the important truth that "seeing is not always believing" and that not everything is as it appears to be. The end of this film draws all the characters even closer together in terms of a shared history and previous relationships and gets you excited for the next film!
The movie moves along nicely; the pace just at the right speed...not too slow and not too fast. Although it is not 100% loyal to the book, it does maintain most of the spirit of what the author was trying to convey. This is the first time we really get a visual look at just how large an expanse of land the Hogwarts school is occupying...it's just immense! I was not happy at the portrayal of the Dementor characters (flying around like Casper the Ghost) but that is a small complaint. I also felt that certain scenes were over-dramatised, just for the movie (ex. the Hippogriff-class) which may be exciting to watch, but I didn't feel was necessary to the story.
Now in addition to the way that the movie was written, I feel I mist also tell you that with this DVD comes a second "bonus feature" DVD, and it is EXCELLENT! Hours of behind the scenes information, interviews with cast and crew, games and trivia...the bonus material alone was worth the purchase price.
Whether you are an avid fan of the Harry Potter book series, or whether you have never read a book in your life, you will enjoy this movie. While it may not be approriate for younger viewers (slightly scary material) it is not profane, excessively or explicitly violent, or have any sexual content. It is rated PG, but even as an adult, you will like it!
I hope that this review was halpful to you. I feel that "review writing" has become a lost art. If you enjoyed this review or found it useful, kindly vote YES (it was helpful). Thank you!
12 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Harry and Rowling come of age
I would have to say that this move was a pivotal movie not only in Harry Potter's life, but in JK Rowling's writing career as well.
For Harry, his past begins to reveal itself and danger comes ever closer to his reluctant sanctuary (ie-the Dursley's residence). For Rowling, her stories are no longer stand alone mysteries that share a common location, but are part of a larger story.
These changes are perfectly timed, as the 8th grade is a pivotal time. It is at this age that children are in between true childhood but not quite yet a young adult. We see changes in Harry, Hermione and Ron that indicate the change.
For one, Draco becomes less of an enemy and more like a pest-problems that they used to have no longer seem to matter, or at least not as much. The spells that Harry and his friends learn are likewise indicative of their maturity. Harry is learns to cast a protective patronus years ahead of his peers, which shows that he has matured beyond his peers. Harry takes his last, irrevocable step into adulthood when he choses to spare the life of his parent's betrayer so he can stand trial.
On the surface, Rowling does not "sanitize" the plot as much as she did with the other two, a trend that continues with the rest of the series. Some people say that Prisoner was the last "children's" book and that Goblet of Fire begins her "young adult" books. While I agree with that assessment, I also think that JK was having her books grow up as her children did. We not only see character development in our heros, but in the writing style as well.
But her level of writing maturity does not end there. Each of the first two books had a beginning, middle and end. Each book was self contained. You could read Chamber of Secrets before Sorcerer's Stone and not miss much. Not so anymore. If you read any of the other books out of order, you could follow the plot but all the richness of her literary devices will not make sense to you.
I think what truely sets JK Rowling as a master story teller is that this book does not suffer from the "middle book funk". Too many book writers and movie produces use this excuse to cover their own laziness (sadly, too many people accept this excuse and keep wasting hard earned money on trash).
JK is able to produce a good book by following the same success formula that Marvel and DC comics did-have complete endings for the sub-plots so the readers feel satisfied. Rowling gives us plenty of satisfaction: the innocent escape death, the betrayer's cover is blown, Harry earns the respect of the people needs to rely on in later books and preparations are being made, at least by some, for the storm that they now know will come.
The greatest weakness I found was her assigning value and meaning to items from the first two books. When they were first written, these items were only described so much as to provide ambience. By retro-actively assigning significance to them, she created a feeling of artificialality that comes with forcing a plot device. This was corrected in later books and a much smoother flow will take place.
In short, Prisoner of Azkaban is a wonderfully writen transition book that takes Harry from being a child into adulthood and takes JK Rowling from being a great entertainer into a master storyteller.
John Holland-author of Necklace of Terrersylvanous
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Captivating for all the family!
We are a house of Harry Potter fans...right down to the toddler, who likes the fact that Harry 'talks like mommy' (the accent not the tone!!) and personally for us, this is the favorite of the series so far!
The Prisoner of Azkaban is perhaps the darkest of the series - albeit without the unsettling ending of Goblet of Fire; but the darkness is interlaced with humor and a good entertaining storyline!
We follow Harry, after a funny home based scene where he gets a tad carried away with some magic - with very funny consequences - back at school for his third year - and along with him, the regulars from the previous two episodes; his friends Ron and Hermione, along with new faces that take from a talented pool of actors - Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, to name but a few.
This time Harry is facing danger from a Prisoner that escaped from - and hence the movie's title - Azkaban; and with this, the school is surrounded by hideous creatures that seek the escapee - the Dementors!
We follow Harry through twists and turns, new magic tricks and new challenges, through an action packed two and a half hours, that remains entertaining through the whole duration!
I highly recommend this movie!
15 of 24 people found this review helpful.
Entering his teens, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is back with the dreary Dursleys for his holidays when a vile visiting aunt provokes him into an act of magic, which is forbidden outside the magic world. Fearing retribution, he runs away, to be picked up by the Knight Bus and taken to the Leaky Cauldron pub, where he learns that the dangerous wizard who supposedly led Lord Voldemort to Harry's parents and was thus responsible for their deaths, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped and is said to be after Harry himself. His third year at Hogwarts thus proves to be extra fraught, what with the soul sucking Dementors - Azkaban guards - and strange new creatures, amazing adventures and the looming confrontation with Black. Just what is Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) so eager to reveal and just what is the real link between Sirius Black and Harry Potter's past?
Enjoyable for all ages, Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban is a wizard of a tale, and chances are you will be humming John Williams' haunting theme for days to come.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
The Harry Potter series is AWESOME! I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and am glad they are making the movies. This movie was different. For one, the original Dumbledore died so they had to get a new actor to play Dumbledore. I don't like him AS much, but he is still good all the same. And what happened to Chris Columbus? Alfonso Cuarón (I apologize if I spelled it wrong) had a WAY different view at the Harry Potter movies than Columbus did. It was good, the problem was there weren't that many classes, it felt like one second they were at Hagrid's first lesson and the next in the Shrieking Shack. Some new characters, such as Prof. Lupin, Buckbeak and Sirius Black. It was a lot darker than the first two, but that's the way it is for the movie so.... All well. This is still a great movie. Not the best so far, but great all the same. Watch this movie! (Not before the first two though.)
4 of 8 people found this review helpful.