12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 5)

Well hello there! Thanks for coming. Sit down and relax while I jabber on about today’s film.

Earlier today I was thinking, “What should I do today?”, as I wanted to be slightly more creative with today’s pick. Then I thought “I should do a Harry Potter movie!”, as most of those flicks have a part set around the holiday. Then it came down to which one I would do. And in the end I decided to pick my favorite out of the bunch, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. It’s time for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to do his third year at Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry. But of course he can’t just have a “normal” school year for once, as he has to look out for Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a killer who has escaped from Azkaban prison. And you know the usual shenanigans that happen, Harry questions things, Snape (Alan Rickman) looks angry, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is secretly a dick, and Harry and his friends end up in some dangerous situations. But they put some nice twists on these things here with the inclusion of certain revelations regarding the past of Harry’s parents, as well as the looming horror of the Dementors. It stands out thanks to one of the more engaging plots in the series, combined with the confident and stunning direction of Alfonso Cuarón. And while this movie doesn’t go “Happy Christmas” as blatantly as some of the other ones, it does have a bit set in a very snowy Hogsmeade, and it all just gives me a very christmas-y vibe. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” works both for christmas-y and casual viewing.

On the fifth day of christmas, Markus brings to you, an actual good film, woohoo!

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

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So now we’re moving forward in my series of reviews leading up to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. So let’s stop with this intro and just get into it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”!

After having blown his horrible uncle’s horrible sister into a human balloon, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) goes back to Hogwarts. But everyone in the wizarding world is a bit on edge at the moment, because convicted killer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has somehow escaped from Azkaban prison and is presumably out and about to find Harry and do somethign terrible. And this of course also brings out the Dementors, the guardians of Azkaban. And from that we get a plot that further develops this world that’s been built up over the previous two movies, and gives us even more knowledge on the pasts of everyone. There are some truly interesting developments going on here that truly adds layers of the already established world, while also giving us a compelling stand-alone mystery. And I absolutely loved it. It was invested the whole way through thanks to those great developments and the overall great pacing of the movie.

The characters in the movie are just as great as in the previous movies, if maybe even better. With all the revelations happening we see Harry developing even more as a character, as he no longer takes any shit from anyone. And Daniel Radcliffe’s performance in the movie is truly great, with him having to show a lot of different emotions throughout the story. Rupert Grint is great, Emma Watson’s great, Alan Rickman (R.I.P) is great. Basically, any returning cast member is great. So let’s talk about some new additions, such as Michael Gambon now playing Dumbledore instead of Richard Harris (R.I.P). And I honestly think he does a really good job here, probably even surpassing Harris. Then we also have David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. And he does a great job too. Gary Oldman as Sirius… fantastic, but there could never be any doubt about that. It’s Gary fucking Oldman. Every actor in this movie does a great job!

The one and only John WIlliams once again provided the score, and it might the best so far. Some of the tracks create the same level of inspiring awe that could be gathered from the scores of the previous two movies, but then we also have some tracks that are outright chilling and haunting. Don’t believe me? Listen to the track “Apparition on the Train” and tell that it’s not a chilling piece of music. Yeah, the music in this one is fucking fantastic.

This is the first “Harry Potter” movie not directed by Chris Columbus (still not trying to rediscover America), instead the reins were handed over to Alfonso Cuarón. And while I thought Columbus did a really good job, Cuarón knocked it out of the god damn park! This is a magnificently directed movie, giving us some real eye candy. For example: Throughout the movie we get some of Cuarón’s signature single-take shots, which look great. Combining his direction with the editing of hte movie also makes it really suspenseful, and even a bit scary. Not only are the designs of the Dementors scary, but the way that some scenes play out/are directed actually kind of scared me. The imagery presented combined with editing, sound effects, and music made for a tense and kind of scary watch. So this can technically be put in the Month of Spooks. Two birds, one stone. And of course, the visual effects in the movie are absolutely terrific, perfectly holding up 12 years later… holy shit, this movie is 12 years old!

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects. 

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is one of those rare cases where the third movie in a series happens to be better than the first two. It has a fantastic story, great characters, great acting, fantastic music, fantastic directing, and great visual effects. Time for my final score. *EXPECTO PATRONUM!*. My final score for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is now completed.

It’s a shame Cuarón didn’t diect any more HP movies…