After “Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets” came out in 2002 around the same time as Richard Harris’ unexpected death, Warner Bros. (WB for short) immediately commenced development of another film titled “The Prisoner Of Azkaban” based on the third book of the Harry Potter series.
Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban was released in 2004. (same year Spider-Man 2 came out) It earned positive reviews from critics. Unlike the first two movies, the third one didn’t surpass a box office record. It’s not a box office bomb, it managed to recoup the budget.
Although the film is one of the best Potter films, it remains as the most controversial entry in the Potterverse making the fans divisive about its flaws. While some defend it. I’m one of the fans who were appalled.
Now that “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindlewald” is out worldwide, I would like to share my thoughts about The Prisoner Of Azkaban.
The following review contains pivotal SPOILERS. If you’ve never read the book or haven’t seen the film, read at your own risk. If you adore The Prisoner Of Azkaban, please don’t grab your pitchforks and torches. This is just an opinion based review in my point of view as a critic/fan.
Magical & Cursed Aspects
Magical: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson & Rupert Grint reprise their roles as The Trio. They all did a fantastic job for their respective performances.
Returning Cast Members such as Alan Rickman, (god bless his soul) Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane & Tom Felton all did a decent job for their respective performances. Mr. Rickman deserves Bonus Points for his unforgettable role as Snape.
Michael Gambon did an ok job for taking over the late Richard Harris’ role as Dumbledore. Until something happened during The Third Act.
Newcomers to the Potterverse including Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson & Timothy Spall all did a great job for their respective performances as Sirius Black, Professor Remus Lupin, Professor Sybill Trelawney & Peter Pettigrew.
Fun Fact: Both Gary & David went on to partake in DC Comics based films. Gary portrayed Commissioner Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight Trilogy & David portrayed a “mystery” character in Wonder Woman.
Chris Columbus served as a producer.
This is the second time Timothy Spall played a rat related character since Chicken Run.
John Williams orchestrated music for the film.
Cinematography looked fine without any technical problems.
My favorite scene in the entire picture is when Lupin teaches Harry, Ron & random students to face their bigger fears using a spell called, “Riddikulus.” That’s actually the name of the spell. Even Draco lampshaded the whole lesson as ridiculous.
My favorite line from Snape is, “Turn to page 394.”
A random student is afraid of snakes. A shout-out to Indiana Jones.
Warwick Davis’ character, Professor Flitwick, is heavily redesigned as a music conductor. I believe WB had to change Warwick’s look, because in the last two movies, he resembles a human Yoda wearing a green cloak in order to prevent a lawsuit from George Lucas.
The Tone is slightly darker than the last two movies.
Dumbledore’s adds a strict rule for Hogwarts to remain in lockdown. A reflection to The Patriot Act. The Potter films were around during The War On Terror.
Harry turns Marge into an inflatable balloon as in Large Marge. A visual stealth pun to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. By the way, Harry goes full Mathilda on Marge, because she played Trunchbull in Mathilda. Now that’s what I call a twofur.
A schoolbook has a face on the front cover. Wait a sec, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004. This confirms that The Prisoner Of Azkaban takes place in 2003-2004.
Dementors are similar to Nazguls from The Lord Of The Rings. The video game, The Third Age came out the same year as Prisoner Of Azkaban.
A Sound Effect of The Predator’s pur is used for Buckbeak’s pur. An in-joke to Alien Vs. Predator?
Harry testing out Buckbeak’s flight is a possible shout-out to Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. Warner Bros. also distributed Marty’s film. I guess Mr. Scorsese visited the set to give The Cast & Crew tips on how to make a legit flight scene.
Lupin’s fear is a moon, because he turns into a werewolf. Van Helsing also featured a werewolf.
Harry uses his cloak to become invisible. Violet from The Incredibles has invisibility.
Sirius who didn’t commit a crime, is similar to Sonny from I Robot.
The Trio, Sirius, Lupin & Snape enter the same room with Snape pointing a wand, turns into a Mexican standoff resembling Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs & True Romance. Gary Oldman also appeared in Quentin’s latter film.
Lupin’s eyes turned green while turning into a werewolf. An obvious shout-out to Bruce Banner transforming as The Hulk.
Harry & Hermione break Sirius out of prison loosely mirrors a familiar prison escape from Shrek 2. They didn’t go with the Mission Impossible cable drop sequence.
I have to give this movie credit for encouraging Christopher & Jonathan Nolan by enlisting Gary Oldman as Commissioner Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight Trilogy after watching Gary’s performance as Sirius Black. I guess The Nolan Brothers are fans of Harry Potter.
The Closing Credits showing a map, looked creative.
Cursed: Alfonzo Cuarón (Children Of Men, Gravity) did a gut wrenching job as a director without thinking this through.
Nobody noticed Harry (in his invisibility cloak) stealing Neville’s lollipop. What I just saw, Indicates he’s out of character. As TV Tropes calls it, “Unintentionally Unsympathetic.”
Harry bursts into to tears like a five-year-old girl bumping into a school choir. GOOD LORD! Ron or Hermione need to give this guy a big cookie. Remember that time when Harry didn’t throw a hissy fit upon learning about his parent’s deaths?Ladies & Gentlemen, this is the equivalent of Batman’s Martha scene from Batman Vs. Superman.
Harry shouts “HE WAS THIER FRIEND!” Was Daniel taking acting lessons from Hayden Christensen?! Dan if you’re reading this review, do me a favor & go to “Lee Strasberg’s School Of Method Acting.”
Harry seeks revenge towards Sirus Black. This isn’t the Harry we all know in love as fans. He’s a combination of characters who seek revenge like Harry Osborn, (Spider-Man 2) The Bride, (Kill Bill) The Punisher, Denzel Washington in Man On Fire, Anakin Skywalker, Carl “CJ” Johnson, (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) Prince Charming (Shrek 2) Mathilda (Leon: The Professional) & Dirty Harry. Good lord, anybody who has beef with Gary Oldman, definitely needs major counseling! Harry’s seeking vengeance is way outta character. He didn’t have to go on a personal vendetta towards Voldemort in the previous two entries.
As Snape points a wand at Sirus, Harry knocks out Snape. If I were in the Potterverse I would’ve exclaimed: “Dude you’re not Russell Crowe!” Even Ron & Hermione were shocked upon witnessing their friend’s behavior.
A Plot Hole involving a Time Turner used for time traveling. Why didn’t Dumbledore tell Hermione to use it during her first year at Hogwarts? OH MY GOD! Dumbledore is a lazy & selfish wizard! He would rather drink at Hogsmade rather than stopping an evil force! I have no choice but to subtract many points for nearly destroying the Potterverse’s mythology! It broke my Suspension Of Disbelief!
Another Plot Hole involving Hermione’s lack of knowledge about The Time Turner. I thought she was the smart one. The third film made her a complete moron. Hermione is also unintentionally unsympathetic using The Time Turner for personal gain by making straight A’s.
A cheesy freeze-frame shows up at the end. Shrek 2 did a better job using freeze-frames during a dance party sequence!
The Final Verdict: C, FOR COLON CLEANSING! (as in Papa Klump)
In my opinion, Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban is basically the weakest installment of the Potterverse. No wonder it didn’t surpass the first two movies’ box office records. I am mortified as a fan that this threequel is one of the best installments of the Potterverse. Looking back at Prisoner Of Azkaban is the equivalent of witnessing a monkey stealing Bill Murray’s egg, he puts it in his mouth, spits it out, lands on filth & then Bill eats the egg. You don’t get it, it’s from Osmosis Jones.
J.K. & WB I don’t mean no disrespect towards you, to paraphrase Alex The Lion’s quote from Madagascar. “You bit the hand J.K. & WB, you bit the hand!” The Goblet Of Fire managed to improve the storyline in terms of positive elements. Which means I forgive J.K. & WB. If you have the guts to watch The Prisoner Of Azkaban, so be it.