Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Movie Review


Abigail Cendana

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban can be considered a fan favorite out of all of the movies in the Harry Potter series. This was the only movie in the series that was directed by Alfonso Cuaron, which could be why this film in particular stands out from the rest. Although Alfonso has his own unique style and wanted to make this movie his own, he still did an excellent job at keeping the movie grounded with the first two films. This movie is much darker compared to the other films, but it also has its fair share of comedic moments. Some aspects in the film that make it a lot darker include talk of murder and execution, as well as scary animals such as werewolves and creatures that represent depression that are known as dementors. Harry learns many new things and experiences a lot in this movie, and Alfonso did an incredible job at presenting this.

As Harry returns for his third year at Hogwarts, he is warned about Sirius Black. He just recently escaped from Azkaban Prison and was said to be involved in Voldemort’s plan to murder Harry’s parents. People speculate that Sirius is out to get Harry next. On a lighter note, to distract Harry from the dangers he faces, Hagrid introduces Harry, Ron, and Hermione to his friend Buckbeak. He is known as a hippogriff and is half bird, half horse. I really loved the scene of Harry riding Buckbeak for the first time. Seeing Harry fly around Hogwarts so happily distracts from the more dark and menacing plot of the movie. The CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) in this scene is incredible, and we also get amazing views of the castle from different angles. With Alfonso directing, we can learn and see more of the geography of Hogwarts throughout the film.

The new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor this year is Remus Lupin. In one of his lessons, he teaches the students about boggarts. A boggart is a creature that can shapeshift and takes the shape of whatever is most feared by whoever encounters it. Lupin shows the students a simple charm to repel a boggart. This scene starts off as rather comedic and lighthearted, but then shifts moods quickly. Lupin has students take turns demonstrating the charm on the boggart. Neville Longbottom is first to go. The boggart turns into professor Snape, someone he is terrified of, and Neville uses the charm to change him into his grandmother’s clothes. The students watching are amused, and everyone wants a turn at it. Once it is Harry’s turn, Lupin immediately intervenes. Afterwards, Lupin and Harry have a very meaningful conversation. He tells Harry that he was afraid the boggart would shapeshift into Voldemort. Lupin then starts talking about Harry’s parents and how he resembles them. Harry develops a close relationship with Lupin throughout the movie, and this scene is an example of that. I think Lupin serves as an important adult figure in Harry’s life. He teaches Harry a lot and helps him reach his true potential as a wizard. Lupin was definitely one of my favorite characters in the series. In my opinion, he was one of the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers. He is for sure an important character in this film, and the movie wouldn’t be complete without him.

Conflict starts to arise in the film when Harry and his friends arrive at the Whomping Willow. There, they meet Sirius Black who turns out to be innocent. The man who betrayed Harry’s parents was Peter Pettigrew, who was presumed to be dead, but is actually Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers. He secretly worked for Voldemort and framed Sirius for betraying Harry’s parents, as well as for his own murder. Peter managed to escape. After this encounter, Sirius Black is locked up again and sentenced to death, even though he is innocent. To save him, Harry and Hermione use time travel. They succeeded and also managed to save Buckbeack, who was supposed to be executed for attacking Draco Malfoy. An important scene worth mentioning is when Harry conjures his patronus to protect Sirius from dementors. The animal he conjured was a deer, which was also his father’s patronus. Although it was Harry himself who summoned the deer, this can also be a sign of his parents. Perhaps it was his father who desperately wanted to protect Sirius.

Many aspects of this movie can be easily overlooked. In my opinion, some of these aspects are what made the movie so amazing. Alfonso Cuaron did a great job with finding just the right camera angles filming. It made all the more difference watching. A lot of the shots filmed made it so that we could really see the story from Harry’s perspective. For example, when Harry hid under his invisibility cloak, we saw this scene through his eyes. It made it much more suspenseful for me and I felt as if  I was there with him. The main characters in the series also grow and change a lot from the first two films. An example of this can be when Hermione finally steps up to Draco and punches him. Another example is when Harry learns how to summon his patronus. This marks huge growth for him as a wizard, as it takes a very skilled wizard to do this. As Harry matures and improves as a wizard throughout the series, I think he truly realizes his potential and what he is capable of in this film. Another scene I enjoyed from the film was of course the time travel scene. It was very well put together, and it was cool how all of the small details that happened before just added up. Overall, I can understand why many Harry Potter fans consider this to be their favorite movie in the series. It was very enjoyable to say the least and is definitely worth the watch.