71. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Movie: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Release Date: June 4, 2004

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters.

Tag Lines: “Have you seen this wizard?”

“Something wicked this way comes.”

“Have you seen this wizard? Approach with extreme caution! Do not attempt to use magic against this man!”

“Everything will change.”

“The time has come.”

“Mysteries will unfold.”

“Secrets will be revealed.”

“Character will be tested.”

“Darkness will descend.”

Relevance: As mentioned a few times on this blog already (see 317. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and 149. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), I am a huge fan of all things Harry Potter. The character, the books, the movies…everything. Once I started reading the books, I couldn’t stop. They were by far my favorite “series” I have ever read in my life, and I read quite a bit. I loved the magic, the mystery but most of all the story that revolved around the glorious characters, especially Mr. Potter. That love easily transferred to the films which I feel truly captured the world that J.K. Rowling created. I adored each book and film. But without question my favorite of both is definitely ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.’

By the time ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ was released in theaters, I was already on the Harry Potter train, the Hogwarts Express if you will. The movie was released in the early summer of 2004 to excellent reviews and went on to become a huge summer blockbuster. There seemed to be no stopping the Harry Potter franchise as it followed suit with the two previous films. ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ eventually became the second highest grossing film of 2004 and its home media release was equally successful. And that was how I first watched the movie.

As mentioned above, the third book in this fantastic series was by far my favorite, which says a lot as I really did love all of them. It really catapulted the story forward and started showing signs of how dark the series was headed. I absolutely adored it as I did its film adaptation. Like the novel, it was darker, more sophisticated and its plot was intricate but yet beautifully handled under the gorgeous direction of Alfonso Cuaron. Instead of renting the movie, I out right bought it. I already owned the first two movies and I knew that I was in this series until the end. It was a movie that I watched over and over again and fell in love with it each time that I did.

‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ has remained my favorite novel and movie even after reading and seeing all of the others in the series. Again, not something I take lightly as I thoroughly and wholeheartedly loved every single entry in the franchise. There is just a certain darkness and beauty that the novel and film seems to blend so well. I find the tale so intriguing and I believe it is the story that stopped Harry Potter from being a “kids” fable and more into an epic adventure for all ages. ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ was beautifully captured, photographed, directed and acted and really was, retrospectively speaking, the crowning achievement in the fabulous world of Mr. Potter.

Today’s Thoughts: “A child’s voice, however honest and true, is meaningless to those who’ve forgotten how to listen.”

There is a running joke in my house that no matter the time of day, month or year, there will always be a Harry Potter movie playing. Whether it is AMC, Free Form or Syfy, it is rare to turn on the television and not find one of the Harry Potter films playing. Of course, I always click over, if not to watch the whole thing, just to check in with an old friend. Watching ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ today on DVD was just that, revisiting an old friend.

I simply adore this film and even though I have read the novel (only once) and seen the film (hundreds of times) I never tire of the adventure it takes me on. I just love the story this film tells and I feel that the characters all start to really take shape as well as the actors portraying them. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are all wonderful actors and this film showcases that tremendously. Michael Gambon who stepped in as Dumbledore after the unfortunate passing of Richard Harris, steps into those shoes nicely. As glorious as they all are, I think it is the overall look and direction by Mr. Cuaron that I admire most. It is just a gorgeous movie to watch.

If you are not a fan of Harry Potter, I still feel like ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ is a film that could stand on its own and entertain anyone that loves a great fantasy adventure film. It has everything you could ask for and so much more. For those Potterheads out there, I am sure there are those that would disagree with me that this is the greatest story in the series. So be it. Bring on the debate. I will just have one thing to say, “mischief managed.”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score, John Williams (nomination), Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Tim Burke, Roger Guyett, Bill George, John Richardson (nomination), BAFTA Audience Award (winner), BAFTA Award for Best British Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Stuart Craig (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects, John Richardson, Roger Guyett, Tim Burke, Bill George, Karl Mooney (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up/Hair, Amanda Knight, Eithne Fennel, Nick Dudman (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Young Actor, Daniel Radcliffe, (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Young Actress, Emma Watson (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Family Film (Live Action) (nomination),

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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