3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is based on the young adult novel from J.K. Rowling and is the third book in the series. It’s worth noting that the two previous stories are considered middle grade, while this story launches Harry Potter into a more grown up world with ever increasing stakes. Let’s consider the pros and cons of the third film…

Pros: Gary Oldman joins the cast as the prisoner of Azkaban and chews up every scene he’s in, sometime even literally. Along with this welcome addition to the Harry Potter universe, we see another director do their best to guide this spectacle. Alfonso Cuarón does an excellent job at transitioning Harry Potter to a darker tone with more meaningful themes. Instead of only focusing on good vs evil, the Prisoner of Azkaban deals heavily in right versus wrong. And both of these themes will be prevalent in the stories to come.

Cons: I appreciate the attention to detail regarding the complex characters and plot, but no movie that deals with time travel is perfect. In fact, it’s probably easier for audiences to suspend their disbelief in magic than it is with time travel. That’s because magic is complete fiction, while time travel is based in a reality prone to paradoxes. For instance, the climax relies on Harry and Hermione to retrace their steps to save two innocent lives. The problem is that we have already seen the previous day, and we know their future selves are impacting the present. Therefore we’re not seeing a truly original day without any intervention from the future. Confused yet? That’s because it’s a paradox. If they don’t go back in time the universe would surely implode. However, if you’re not a stickler when it comes to time travel, this probably won’t bother you one bit.

I give Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban an A-. This story certainly deals with heavier themes, but the exciting mystery and excellent direction allows for a seamless transition from the lighter prequels. Happy Watching!




  • Acting
  • Direction
  • Tone
  • Plot

Where to Watch

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