Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewlis, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Emma Thompson, Tom Felton directed by Alfonso Cuarón Movie Review

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Harry Gets Sirius

Back in 2004 when I went to watch "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" I didn't like it, in fact I didn't like it so much that I didn't bother with the rest of the Harry Potter movies. The reason why I didn't like "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" back then? Well I suppose it comes down to having not read the books and so was not prepared for the shift from being a fun magical series to something which was becoming darker and more serious. But having finally watched "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" again it has grown on me, I'm still not fully in love with the sudden shift to darker style but there is no denying it is entertaining, interesting and to be truthful another movie which is a cut above the usual stuff served up as children's entertainment.

After using magic outside of Hogwarts, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) leaves the Dursley's to return to Hogwarts but before getting the train back learns that Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a friend of Voldemort's, has escaped from Azkaban and is believed to be after Harry. It means that Hogwarts is surrounded by creatures called Dementors, guards from Azkaban, in order to catch Sirius but they have a strange effect on Harry. And that is not the only strange thing which will happen this year as Harry discovers more about his parents.

Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

So as already mentioned, when "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" was released it felt such a shift in tone from being cute and fun to dark and slightly sinister that I struggled with it. But it does work, Harry is growing up, he is learning more about his past and it gets more and more mysterious with director Alfonso Cuarón doing a nice job of starting that change from fun Harry to darker Harry. And it goes without saying that J.K. Rowling's story is as fantastic as ever, developing are favourite characters whilst revealing more of Harry's past whilst also setting up the next stage with more mysteries to be revealed.

Now I keep on going back to the fact that "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is much darker than the first two movies and visually it is a much greyer movie. That doesn't hide the visual creativity with a lot of humour being delivered from some wonderful imaginative visual scenes from a night bus which picks Harry up after he has left the Dursley's to Hogwarts having a more gothic feel thanks to the washed out, darker styling.

In all honesty once you accept that "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is the start of things becoming darker there is nothing wrong with the movie. The returning characters are just as good with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry, Ron and Hermione such a tight unit that even if they had an off day you wouldn't mind. And then there is Michael Gambon who following the death of Richard Harris took over as Albus Dumbledore and does a great job of carrying on what Harris had created but incorporating his own touches to the character.

What this all boils down to is that "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is as good as the two movies which went before and with the characters growing up so are the movies with this feeling darker than its predecessors.