The third film in the ‘Harry Potter’ series saw a new director, a slightly different take in transferring from book to film, and a more action oriented slant. ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ is where we start to get more information about the events that set the entire series in motion.
Returning for their third year at Hogwart’s School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, Harry, Ron and Hermione see yet another new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, one Remus Lupin, who is hiding multiple secrets from the group and school in an attempt to right a horrible wrong.
As the film progresses, we get more and more information about the events that transpire before the start of the series, mainly the way that Harry’s parents were betrayed by one of their closest friends, In fact, it was their one friend that they had named to be Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black, the titular prisoner of Azkaban.
More and more we learn that not everything is as it seems in the wizarding world, including the fact that the accepted story of the betrayal of Harry’s parents was distorted into what it is and the fact that Sirius Black was sent to Azkaban without trial.
As a change from the first two films of the series, ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ sees a better flow throughout the film as it is not a direct transfer of the entire book to screen. What we also get is some stronger character development, from Harry’s brief outbursts of anger to outward signs of Ron and Hermione’s burgeoning feelings for each other, even to Hagrid’s taking on of teaching classes at the school as well. All of these are welcome to anyone who enjoys rich, deep characters.
A note as well, is Michael Gambon taking over the role of Albus Dumbledore from the late Richard Harris. In what was a benefit for the series, Gambon’s Dumbledore seems a better fit for the darker direction the series continues to take in ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’.
As the film comes to its conclusion, the truth of the betrayal of the Potter’s comes to full light, the truth about Lupin is revealed as well, and in the end, we get our first real sign of just how powerful a wizard Harry actually will be as he is able to fully harness his Patronus charm to save Sirius Black, who he now embraces as sole remaining family.
The strongest entry into the series to date, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ sets in motion everything you would expect from a series like this and begins to chart a course away from the dragged out, bloated first entries.
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