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

THIS is the best Harry Potter film, hands down. It's the one film that doesn't rely on abstract Voldemort plot devices, contrived class competitions with surprise results, or over-the-top monsters to defeat. It comes down to simple wizardry skills and common, understandable monster tropes to reach the most satisfying conclusion of all the films.

I've loved all of Cuarón's work, and he delivered an impressive film, considering it was only his second feature (edit: whoops! fourth feature!), coupled with being given a big-budget franchise feature.

And what a welcome change from Colombus to Cuarón. He really brought in the big guns for this. The look and feel of this film is so much grander. Wide shots and lighting really enhance the real world and Hogwarts. The area around Hogwarts became larger, and so did the scope of this series with this film.

Cuarón's love of purposeful long takes and effects-driven camera moves add intensity to character actions, like the run of Harry and Hermione out of the upper floor of the hospital and down to the ground, with camera travelling trough the clock tower and meeting back up with our heroes as they leave the bottom floor. Fantastic!

Plus, it contains my favorite film aspect: watching events that have occurred again from a different perspective. My favorite example of this is in BttF, when Marty returns to watch himself go back to the past. So it was great they introduced the time travel aspect in this film, which provided me that same excited feeling. Watching them watching them is the best!

And finally, the true star of this series, arguably other than the fantastic casting of our star trio, is Alan "Page three hundred and ninety FOUR" Rickman. He always delivers.