Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third movie in the Harry Potter series, based on the book of the same name. It was directed by Alfonso Cuaron and follows the titular Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) as they have another hectic school at Hogwarts.
Right off the bat, I want to say that some people who love this movie might not entirely agree with my thoughts on it. I like this movie a lot, but there are some things that I could have done without. Now with that out of the way…
Prisoner of Azkaban starts off with Harry staying with the Dursleys. As usual, it’s not ideal. He loses it when his Aunt Marge insults his parent and he inflates her like a balloon. The CGI looks bad, but it is a funny scene nonetheless. Harry runs away and ends up getting growled out by a big black dog. Then the Knight Bus pops up and Harry boards as a passenger. It takes him to the Leaky Cauldron. He meets up with his friends and learns of Sirius Black (Gary Oldman): the man who sold out Harry’s Parents and got them killed. He escaped Azkaban, the wizard prison, and they believe he wants Harry dead.
When our protagonists arrive at Hogwarts a lot has changed, specifically that Hagrid is now a teacher and that there is a new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher named Remus Lupin. As previously mentioned, a lot of the effects have not aged well. Thankfully, the dementors —responsible for stealing happiness— have a great design. The movie delves into a lot of interesting stuff like how Voldemort killed Harry’s parents. There are some cool new spells showcased, and there are even nice moments like Harry riding the Hippogriff. Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) is insufferable in this movie exaggerating an attack by the Hippogriff which makes it marked for death. As if I needed another reason to dislike Malfoy.
I liked Lupin and thought he was an interesting character. Him actually helping Harry made it feel like there was finally a Defense against the Dark Arts teacher who didn’t suck. We learn Hermione is taking way too many classes and some at the same time. That ends up being important. Gary Oldman does a fantastic job as Sirius Black. We learn from Black that it’s not what it seems and he’s not here to kill Harry, he’s here to catch Peter Pettigrew who he claims is Ron’s rat Scabbers. However, Lupin is hiding a secret of his own. He is a werewolf and it turns out that Black is the dog that Harry saw a few times. The reveal scene where Scabbers turns into Pettigrew made me laugh. It also raised some alarming thoughts since Ron often slept with Scabbers.
We learn that he was the one that betrayed the Potters. Black and Lupin almost kill him but Harry stops them. This shows Harry’s strength of character to not kill him, although he would come to regret that decision in my opinion. Black asks Harry to live with him and so with Pettigrew they can prove Black’s innocence. Things go awry when the full moon comes out and Lupin realizes he didn’t take his potion and werewolf’s out. Black turns into the dog and fights his friend to protect Harry and friends. Peter Pettigrew turns into a rat and gets the hell out.
Black gets hurt and Wolf-Lupin almost gets Harry, but a werewolf cry scares it off. Personally, I thought this scene just added pointless drama. I thought “oh, he forgot his potion, how convenient during the full moon and during this crucial moment.” Felt lazy to me.
So dementors make their return and Harry tries to fight them off with his Patronus but fails. Then out of nowhere a Stag patronus scares them off as Harry faints. So they basically lost, Black is gonna get his soul sucked out, Buckbeak is as good as dead. They tell Dumbledore and he believes them and —remember what I said about Hermione’s classes and how they were at the same time? Well she has something called a time turner and has been using it for classes. Again, personally I thought that was dumb. If only because, they are giving an awful lot of power to a kid and having her use it for classes? This could have gone very wrong. I also think is reckless for them to let a student do that many classes anyways. But Hogwarts has never been big on protecting their students from danger. So Dumbledore hints they should save Buckbeak and Black.
So they turn back time to save Buckbeak. We learn that the werewolf’s cry was them. Harry is the one that used the Patronus earlier that saved them. It was also Harry who he saw earlier that reminded him of his dad. So with Buckbeak they save Black and him and Harry share a nice moment. But alas, they cannot have the relationship they wanted. As a fugitive he cannot have Harry live with him and they have no proof of his innocence. But Harry is just happy that he’s alive. Harry and Hermione go back to where they went back in time and all is fine. Well, almost. Apparently a teacher being a werewolf at a school with yearly danger and a Basilisk and a tree that punches anything is a no-no.
There is a lot to like about this movie, but there are a lot of leaps of logic that don’t add up to me. There is just one too many plot conveniences that end up feeling like there are no consequences for anyone. Also, I felt that Harry can basically do anything he wants at Hogwarts. Also, I honestly didn’t like the addition of Professor Trelawney. Her character feels pointless in the film and Emma Thompson tries way too hard to be eccentric in a school with enough eccentric characters. This film is the last one Hagrid really gets used and that’s a shame. I liked him as a teacher and sucked he didn’t last in that role. Voldemort’s presence isn’t as prevalent in this film as the rest of the series. Although, in this case, that wasn’t a bad thing.
Overall, there is so much more good in this film then there is bad. First time I saw it, I loved it. I greatly recommend it to anyone that hasn’t seen it. My final grade would be 8/10.