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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Review

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by Phil Hinton Nov 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Review
    The third film adaptation of the Harry Potter novels has a change of Director and presentation from the previous two movies. Alfonso Cuaron takes over the helm from Chris Columbus and adds his own touches to the Potter franchise, the darker tone and more subdued colour palette really add a more mysterious feeling to proceedings.

    Once again we meet Harry living with his evil Aunt and Uncle before the new term at Hogwarts and after a dinner party argument where Harry does some magic on another evil aunt for bad mouthing his parents, Harry runs away for good. It's not long before he meets up with Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) and Harry learns he is again in danger, this time from an escaped prisoner of Azkaban. Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) was an old colleague of Harry's parents and was the one person who betrayed them and led them to their deaths. On the train journey to school another dark creature makes itself known, the Dementor, a prison guard of Azkaban who is on the search of Sirius, and he is not alone, there are quite a few of these Dementor's and they have taken up positions around Hogwarts. Starting the school term the children meet two new professors who seem a little strange, with one being an old family friend of Harry's. There are a few subplots running along with the main story line and this third movie also adds some much needed humour to proceedings.

    This third instalment of the franchise is far darker in it's tone, with familiar settings such as Hogwarts looking more foreboding than in the previous movies. The kids have grown up and the acting skills have again improved with some fine performances. The use of digital technology also integrates far better than in previous films with the werewolf being a highlight along with a strange creature that is half horse and half eagle. All this is an improvement but I did feels that the storyline this time around appeared to be stretched too much, it just failed to engage me in the same way that the first two films did. Character development also suffers slightly with many main characters seemingly taking a back seat and only having brief appearances. The new cast members are welcome however with the brilliant Gary Oldman taking on the role of the bad guy (again) and introducing Timothy Spall and David Thewlis to proceedings. Overall the movie has everything required for a Harry Potter adventure and the darker tone to proceedings is welcomed, the story may suffer slightly for older viewers but the kids will love it.