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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(2004, Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

Potty for Potter? Warner Brothers certainly are and its easy to see why. With the previous two movies helmed by the wonderfully saccarine Columbus, they were an instant hit, matching the popularity of the books that started this particulaly Potty Potter..ness...and it looks like theyve done it again. But this time with a make-over...

We see the third and darker installment of J.K Rowlings hit series brought to the screen by the brain of relatively unknown director Alfonso Cuarón. The Potter series continues with a new look, new feel and new magic. With Cuaron in the big boss chair this time around we see the type of Potter film that most fans have been waiting for, a new darker view of this magical world we love so much. As popular as the Columbus films were, there was always the wanting for a more darker atmosphere and Cuaron most definatly give us this. With a new mountainous set for Hogwarts, settled among hills, vallies and lakes galore and some wonderfully dark images such as Dementors swooping over a lightening lit quidditch match, and a werewolf howling at the moon, the darker of the three books is most definalty done justice with this new installment.
Not only does he manage to reproduce the dark atmosphere that the book sets up, but he has also managed to command an amazing performance from music master John Williams. Instead of the quirky and pleasant offerings we recieved for the last two films, this time Williams lights up the film with a wonderfully Spielbergian score that truly compliments some of the key scenes. A scene with a dementor soaring over a frozen river towards a terrified Harry as the suspensful music reminiscence of his Close Encounters score fills the air, youll be pushed if it doesnt make your nipples hard and your hair stand on end.

With the regular cast filling their boots theres little reason to be dissapointed. Rickman is once again delicious as the sinister Snape, making you positively squirm with delight as he camps up the hatred for Harry. Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint are marginally improved as the troublesome two, with Radcliffe finally portraying Harry in a much more likeable manner. Emma Watson really shines in this offering, playing a much larger part in the plot and delivering some truly funny moments as the time hopping Hermione. not only is it a good job to see the oringal cast, we also have some new offerings that fit into their roles perfectly. Emma Thompson is wonderfully bizarre as Prof. Trelawney, terrifying the pupils through her bottle thick lensed glasses as she spells out their fates. David Thewlis is another welcomed addition as the troubled defence against the dark arts teacher Prof. Lupin and although his screen time is realtively short, Gary Oldman creates a wonderful performance of Sirius Black, doing a good job of portraying his madness due to his years of horror in Azkaban and his hatred for his old foe Prof. Snape. With the sad departure of Richard Harris's Dumbledore, we see a new fresh face with Micheal Gambons interpretation of the excentric headmaster. Gambon does a wonderful job shwoing us the more comical, mysterious yet ever loving side to the headmaster of Hogwarts, making it a delight to watch him hobble onto the screen.

As said, there is not much to grumble about. Die hard fans of the books may be slightly dissapointed, as like usual, some elements and small plot details have been left out, but hopefully if that clever mexican director has done so, we may see these parts on the dvd. Although the film runs relatively smoothly, the presentation of the beginning of the story seems awkward. Harrys time at the Dursleys feels rushed with merely a few words uttered by the grim Uncle Vernon and swollen Aunt Marge, and the introduction of the Dementors is ultimatly slightly dissapointing as they two also seem to rush onto the screen. Also the dramatic change in style that we see with Cuaron behind the wheel may also be another reason that the first half may seem bizarre and muddled. However with this said, the second half of the film makes up for these slight inadequacies, wiping your memory of the rushed introductions and developing each image and delivering it with Cuaron's new imaginitive scope, you become comfortable with this new, darker, more beautiful vision of the Potter world.

Something wicked this way comes...Wickedly Wonderful.