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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I will use this opportunity to review the first two films as well, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In Sorcerer’s stone, we are introduced to Harry Potter, Hermione, and Ron during their first year at Hogwarts school. Potter gains his reputation as an expert at quidditch, and the three of them solve their first mysteries as Harry Potter begins to gain a sense of who he is. In Sorcerer’s Stone, the three continue into t their second year; there is not much of a difference in the look and feel of the first two films. Both “play it safe”; neither contains much darkness, an approach that would have appealed to the various ages watching the films (although none of these would likely work for the very youngest who still are scared by spooky characters). There is a distinct difference with the third installment, Prisoner of Azkaban. The difference was so striking, even in the beginning, that I looked and discovered that Alfonso Cuarón directed it. In this installment, Harry Potter searches for Sirius Black, an escaped prisoner from Azkaban and someone Potter discovers has an important connection to him. I loved the sense of magic that permeates the film and was rather missing in the previous two. There is much more attention to the special effects, which are much smoother and create a stronger sense of mystery. I felt like I was experiencing Harry Potter the way my imagination experienced it while reading the books, again something that was missing from the first two. I loved the ending of this one – it was rather unexpected (at least for me). Alfonso Cuarón, who is one of the greatest screenwriters, directors, and cinematographers, was the right choice to direct this and “put the film back on a footing with the books”. Big thumbs up from me! (2004; 4.5 stars).

About Gary Burkholder

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