Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban is the best film from the series as far as the structuring of the on-screen plot is concerned. While making a film based on a book, either the filmmaker focusses on the plot intensely repeating everything from the book exactly how it was, or, a few changes are made here and there so that the action is excelled better. The movie is literally flawless thanks to Cuaron’s direction skills and his profound vision which capture the movements and emotions of the characters backed by an adept cinematography. And, I predicted the possible Oscar win for the director in the future. I was right!
Harry’s life in Privet drive has changed to a great extent. We see him speak up and stand up for himself when necessary and he storms out of the house without letting his uncle and aunt come anywhere close to him with their tantrums. He is united with his best friends Ron and Hermione at Leaky cauldron, where he is informed of the prisoner of Azkaban Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) by Ron’s father Arthur Weasley. The prisoner is said to be a loyal follower of Lord Voldemort and he intends to complete the job that’s left unfinished, i.e. to kill Harry.
I remember being very impressed with the trailer which showed a massive change in the environment of Hogwarts. The life of the teenagers is shown realistically along with Harry’s fun days with his classmates.
Students bicker and make comments on various engagements happening in their lives. Draco Malfoy is still the bully but a coward at heart.
Hagrid struggles with his teaching sessions on the first day. Everything else goes along with the flow. The success of this movie is due to the director’s intellect and vision that puts the audience members in the film with these characters. Kudos to him and at the same time, the cinematography and editing increased the pacing and created a perfect insight to the magical life of Harry and his friends. When I watched this film, I felt that this is the best film from the series as far the adaptation is concerned and, the only part of the series where the movie is better than the book. 🙂 There were many shuffling and as well as omitting of certain facets of the book, but all the necessary aspects are present. The climax was better in the movie, I felt that it was hazy in the book and it was a lot better that Hermione and Harry faced the event together instead of being at separate spots. The final twist was mesmerizing and it added a cherry to the cake of suspense and more depth to the characters. Daniel Radcliffe improved a lot and he stood along with the ensemble cast which included the versatile actor Gary Oldman. I can’t imagine anyone else as Sirius Black, Gary Oldman nailed it with his eccentric mannerisms, voice modulation, and vulnerability. We will feel sorry for him as much as we end up smiling at his dry humor.
David Thewlis delivered a believable performance as the best defense against the dark arts teacher.
The one performance I found awkward was Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. It is because Richard Harris was profound, then again, Gambon’s body language and gentle nature made a good replacement. Unlike the bully we are familiar with from the books, we get to see Prof Snape become a rock solid figure and a concerned teacher. He teaches the students about werewolves and how to recognize them. And… this is where we get to see Prof Snape deliver the cult line. 😛
I liked how Prof Snape protected Harry, Ron and Hermione from the werewolf which was about to attack them and it should have been there in the book. The movie, however, belongs to Hermione.
We get to see her in action as Dumbledore trusts her cleverness and quick-thinking. Prisoner of Azkaban was well appreciated for the best depiction of female strength and Hermione takes over the authority at the second half. But there were some plot holes that bothered me, everybody is aware of the theories related to the time-turner. And, the story about Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs is not explained, one will feel tempted to search online. John Williams brought in more treasures created as a result of his illustrious imagination. The tracks “Aunt Marge’s waltz“, “Buckbeak’s flight” and “window to the past” are my favorites. Technically the film shows how much Hollywood is upgrading against all odds. The scene where the dementors search the train with great sound effects, making the scene a scary experience. Prisoner of Azkaban is a perfect blend of suspense, surprise elements, humor and intense performances. Fun fact is that this is the only movie from the series that has a very pleasant and joyful ending that’s devoid of drama or sentiments.
I have also come across many forums which talked about how bad the adaptation was though the experience was formidable, well that’s up to the viewers to decide. To me, HP and the prisoner of Azkaban is the best film after HP and the Deathly Hallows.
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