Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

PG   |    |  Adventure, Family, Fantasy


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) Poster

It's Harry's third year at Hogwarts; not only does he have a new "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher, but there is also trouble brewing. Convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped the Wizards' Prison and is coming after Harry.

TIP
Add this title to your Watchlist
Save movies and shows to keep track of what you want to watch.

7.9/10
490,560

Videos


Photos

  • Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Tom Felton in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Alfonso Cuarón and Emma Watson in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson at an event for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Daniel Radcliffe at an event for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

See all photos

More of What You Love

Find what you're looking for even quicker with the IMDb app on your smartphone or tablet.

Get the IMDb app

Gary Oldman Through the Years

Take a look back at Gary Oldman's movie career in photos.

See more Gary

Reviews & Commentary

Add a Review


User Reviews


25 June 2004 | kylopod
8
| Finally, a movie that captures the books' magic
If there's anything this movie proves, it is the difficulty in separating the series from the demands of fans. This is clear just from hearing some of the comments. "Why didn't they identify the names on the Marauder's Map?" "Why wasn't the second Quidditch game shown?" "Why wasn't there more of Crookshanks the Cat?" By focusing on what the film didn't have, fans fail to look at the film on its own terms. I think this is by far the best Harry Potter movie yet.

The only way to satisfy fans would be to include everything from the book, which would require a miniseries. Since that isn't what these films are, the story has to be abridged. The first two films tried to fit everything they could within a reasonable slot of time. The result was a set of films that felt cluttered yet incomplete. Had they continued with this strategy for this movie, based on a much longer book, it would surely have been over three hours long.

The virtue of the latest film is that it makes a real attempt to adapt the story, not just marching in lockstep with the book's events. The screenplay is sparing, leaving out or simplifying loads of details not directly relevant to the plot. But it captures much of the book's delight and humor. The first two films fell short in this regard, because they lacked the guts to tinker with the details, even though that was the key to condensing the story while staying true to its spirit.

The movie is still faithful to the book, of course. Many of the scenes are exactly as I had imagined them. When it deviates, it does so based on an understanding of the story and characters. This is evident in the way they show, for example, the Knight Bus; Hermione's overstuffed schedule; and the introduction of the Marauder's Map, a scene that captures the twins' mischievous personalities. The changes are clever and funny, and they help compensate for the movie's loss in other areas.

Certainly this has something to do with the new director. Columbus's approach was to stick to the books as literally as possible, often draining them of their subtlety. For instance, where the books only hint that Dumbledore can see through the invisibility cloak, the earlier movies make it unmistakable. The new director never condescends to the audience in that way. This is a children's movie, but it is also a fantasy-thriller that we can take seriously, because not everything is spelled out for us. We're given a chance to think.

But part of what makes the movie work is the book itself. The story is gripping from start to finish, because the threat looming over the school is established early on. Harry's personal life is sharply intertwined with the plot. We feel for him as we watch his disastrous (but hilarious) attempts to escape his uncle and aunt, and his humiliating reaction to the dementors. The story avoids common devices such as the talking killer or deus ex machina, which the other books have in abundance. The ending is nicely bittersweet and ambiguous. The plot is so complicated, however, that the book spends several chapters explaining it all. The movie wisely includes only very little of this, allowing the plot twists to become understood as the story progresses. I was surprised to see certain events that were in the movie but not the book lend support to an important theory some fans have had about what is to be revealed at the end of the series. Of course, it is well-hidden and won't give anything away for those who aren't looking for the clues.

I was so satisfied with the film that it almost seems trivial to mention the flaws, but there are some. The portrayal of Fudge's assistant as the standard hunchbacked dimwit is out of place here, as it would be in anything other than a cartoon or spoof. The most serious misstep, though, is the casting of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. Gambon's face seems frozen in a perpetual nonexpression, and his voice lacks resonance. He compares poorly to the late Richard Harris, whose line readings had gravity, and who played the character with a twinkle in his eyes. It is a pure mystery to me why this actor was chosen as a replacement, especially considering the fine performances from other members of the cast. Even the children are in top form here.

Those complaints aside, this is the movie I was hoping they would make when the series began. If it doesn't live up to the book, so what? What's important is that it lives up to its potential as a movie. Fans who want a carbon-copy of the book are looking in the wrong place, because they're never going to get it here. This is probably the best example of a Harry Potter movie that we're ever likely to see.

Metacritic Reviews


Critic Reviews



More Like This

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • Night at the Museum

    Night at the Museum

  • Ice Age

    Ice Age

  • Shrek

    Shrek

Did You Know?

Trivia

J. K. Rowling has stated that Professor Lupin is the kind of teacher she wishes she had while she was a student. He is good-natured, kind, and able to extract the best in everyone -- for example, in spotting Neville Longbottom's lack of confidence and helping him to overcome it by teaching him how to defeat the boggart.


Quotes

Harry: Lumos Maxima!


Goofs

(at around 1h 40 mins) The first time Hermione howls at Lupin the werewolf to save Harry, Lupin gives a gentle howl back while running toward her. However, the second time she howls to save Harry, when they are back in time (at around 1h 55 mins), Lupin only growls while running toward her.


Crazy Credits

The movie opens with the silver Warner Bros. logo appearing from blackness, then the camera flies through the WB logo as it zooms in on Harry Potter's bedroom window.


Alternate Versions

DVD includes the following deleted scenes:

  • A scene cut from the Knight Bus sequence in which the bus turns around several times on the spot in the middle of the street.
  • An extended version of the scene where the bird flies through the courtyard, across the bridge, and in the direction of Hagrid's hut. We see Hagrid attempt to catch the bird, but instead it ends up being crushed by the Whomping Willow.
  • A scene in the Great Hall, where Ron and Hermione tell Harry about their visit to Hogsmeade.
  • A scene where the Gryffindors meet Sir Cadogan.
  • A scene in the Gryffindor Common Room, where all the students are gathered as Ron tells Professor McGonagall that Sirius Black had gotten into the dormitory. Professor McGonagall then asks Sir Cadogan if he let anyone into the common room. Ron then tells Hermione that Crookshanks ate Scabbers. Upset, Hermione sits down on the couch next to Harry, who says that he could have killed Sirius Black.


Soundtracks

La Raspa
(uncredited)
Traditional

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Adventure | Family | Fantasy | Mystery

Our Favorite Trailers of the Week

See the trailers we loved this week, including "Jessica Jones" Season 3, and Brittany Runs a Marathon. Presented by Microsoft Surface.

Watch our trailer of trailers

Featured on IMDb

See what TV shows editors are excited about this month and check out our guide to Star Wars, video games, and more.

Around The Web

 | 

Powered by ZergNet

More To Explore

Search on Amazon.com