Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is among the top three Harry Potter films across multiple official lists and ranking sites, but was the lowest grossing film of the whole series. Regardless, it remains a Potter fan favorite.
In this film, the third in the series, Harry learns of Sirius Black and his intentions to kill him. Elaborate precautions are taken at Hogwarts to protect from the assumed criminal, but Harry is unaware of his relation to Black at all.
This film is a major turning point within the series. Harry, Hermione, and Ron are more grown up and this time the main problem they face goes beyond the Hogwarts walls, unlike in the previous films. Not only is the plot different, the director, Alfonso Cuarón, completely altered the tone and directional style of the series for the better (in my opinion). Cuarón challenged his three main actors (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) to shed their more childlike performances and use their full capabilities as serious actors.
In an interview with Cannes Film Festival, Cuarón states, “I was trying to put something else together at the time, and then the offer came. J.K. Rowling liked A Little Princess and she approved of me doing the Harry Potter film. My friends made fun of me for doing a Harry Potter, and I actually joined in the joke because I had no idea about (the series).” He said that his good friend and fellow director, Guillermo del Toro, helped him understand the meaning and importance of the books and the overall story. He decided to approach the direction with a lot more realism than the previous two movies. His storytelling methods are more complex, and his camera is constantly in motion which is exciting throughout.
The film also introduces a lot more magical creatures, as well as expanding on the universe in general. We get to meet the Knight Bus, Crookshanks the cat, Buckbeak, some werewolves, a myriad of dementors, and Scabbers…in a new light. We are also introduced to concepts such as the Marauders Map and Hermione’s time turner. Part of what I (and millions of others) find so thrilling about this series is the joy of learning more and more about the universe as time progresses. There is always more to discover and part of what is so exciting about this film is just how MUCH we, as audience members, get to learn and witness.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is definitely my favorite film in the series and the scene where Hermione punches Draco Malfoy in the face is just one of the many reasons.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will be shown at the Byrd Theatre on Monday September 9, 2019 at 7:15pm as part of the Potterthon marathon.