Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ★★★★★


"For in dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own. Let him swim in the deepest ocean or glide over the highest cloud."

God, it's just brilliant, isn't it? At once a crystallization of the tone found in the first two films, and the basis for the hopelessness of the rest of the series. "Something wicked this way comes" is an excellent tag-line for a movie that seems to capture a quality akin to Ray Bradbury. The bitter chill of growing up, and the warmth of friendship and community. Alfonso Cuarón's work is vital in giving Hogwarts and the world of Harry Potter a structured reality. It no longer feels like a theme park ride or a visual tour of the books on screen - the tangibility and matter-of-fact exploration of the wizarding world is essential to the cinematic success of Prisoner of Azkaban. Never does it feel like it strains for a 'magical' quality, it simply is. From the floaty camera to the cloudy, autumnal palette, every moment and visual idea is richly developed and detailed. The plight of the kids is given a strong perspective and is at a continuous contrast with the adults of the story, who frequently involve the students in their own fuck-ups and dangers. Above all, this is a narrative of adolescent maturity clashing against the realities of the grown-up world, and Harry, lost and without a family, seeking his own comfort in the people who care about him most. And to think you find all of this in a children's fantasy film that also features singing frogs and giant pumpkins and closed-loop time travel and spooky dementors!

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