I watched this film soon after it came and got the DVD shortly after. It wasn’t really a movie that I watched too often. I saw the film before I read the books. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was made in 2004, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, written by Steve Kloves and produced by Chris Columbus, David Heyman and Mark Radcliffe. While researching this I realised how odd it was that Chris Columbus was moved from director to co-producer along with Heyman and Mark Radcliffe (who is in no way related to Daniel Radcliffe). People tend to have very different opinions about this movie, some love it, but the vast majority seem to hate it. This seems to be backed up by the fact that this film is the lowest grossing film in the Harry Potter franchise.
As someone who hadn’t read the book first, it seemed a bit confusing to me. The whole time-travel idea wasn’t really explained very well. I assumed that Buckbeak was killed and then when the executioner was shown hitting the pumpkin, I thought that Harry and Hermione had somehow changed the past. This led to further confusion when it was shown that the actions that occurred during the time-travel also occurred beforehand. I really didn’t get what was going on until I read the novel.
Another downfall of the film was that the magical feel that was in the previous films was destroyed. Gone with barely a trace. I think this is mainly due to the fact that the characters are rarely shown in school uniform. The absence of flowing black capes and the house emblems detracts from the overall feeling of the film. This may have been done to make the characters seem more like teenagers or to make the film seem darker (which it is) but I didn’t like it. It was also the first film to vary from the script dramatically, leaving crucial parts out, for example, they didn’t really explain much about animagiuses or Secret Keepers and the origins of the Marauder’s Map is ignored (“Who are the Marauder’s?” I hear non-readers ask). These and a few other parts left out may only be small, but they are very important and wouldn’t have taken much more effort to put in.
The casting, however, was awesome as usual. I think Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) were particularly good. The only problem was the addition of Michael Gambon to become the new Albus Dumbledore. I would have hoped that they would have kept the character of Dumbledore the same as in the previous two films but he was completely different. Not only in appearance (a shorter, grey beard instead of a long, white one) but he is also far more severe, mysterious and not as kind. I was ok with this, though, I mean every actor would have a different interpretation of the character. That was until I learned he said this:
“I just play him as myself, I don’t ease myself into any role really. I stick a beard on and play me… Every part I play is just a variant of my own personality. No real character actor, of course, just me.”
This really annoyed me, an actor is supposed to act. They’re supposed to play a character who is at least a little bit (but sometimes dramatically) different from themselves. They’re not supposed to say lines and act exactly like themselves!
As far as graphics and CGI goes, it was pretty good. I liked the Marauder’s Map, the realism of Buckbeak, the setting of the Shrieking Shack and of course the terrifying Dementors. The Dementors were done particularly well and succeeded in giving the film a darker feel to the previous two. I also really like the Time Turner, it’s so cool!
The music was once again composed by John Williams. The new songs were very different to the previous films but I really like them. They both work with the film and are awesome songs to just listen to by themselves. I have a special mention for the song Double Trouble because the lyrics for it are from Shakespeare’s Macbeth so I succeeded in listening to the song as study for my exam. 🙂 A medley of the songs from this film are here:
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was one of my favourite novels in the Harry Potter series, but the movie just didn’t work out as well as it could have.
Favourite character/portrayal: Remus Lupin (David Thewlis)
Least favourite character/portrayal: Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon)
Favourite scene: When Harry blows up Aunt Marge
Least favourite scene: The freeze ending with Harry riding his Nimbus 2001
Rating; 2.5/5 stars