Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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

This is the Empires Strikes Back of the Harry Potter franchise. Much like Kershner, Cuaron adds emotional complexity to the characters, bringing an already beloved franchise to new heights.

It feels like they rebuilt Hogwarts from the ground up here, using different sets and a different color palate. It's hard to think of a more dramatic tonal shift in a franchise that isn't classified as a "reboot". The child actors are also much better here than the previous two. I was particularly impressed by Radcliffe, where I was not in the earlier films.

Cuaron completely reinvented the franchise here, keeping some of the playfulness of the beloved first two movies, but adds an ominous sense that evil is always lurking. There are scenes in this film that would have played much lighter in Columbus' films where Cuaron chooses to push the camera in, or show a storm lurking outside. He directs this as well as he does Children of Men.

My god, David Thewlis was snubbed for Best Supporting Actor. Thewlis is incredibly underrated in general but he adds a certain aura of mystery, it's no wonder he is the first, possibly only, professor Harry really gets close to.

While it is sad to move on from Richard Harris as Dumbledore, I had more appreciation for what Gambon does this time around. I appreciate that he wasn't trying to replicate Harris' and instead brings his own charm to the role.

It's as good, if not better than I remember it and I have even more appreciation for how it shifted the franchise.

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