Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are back in Hogwarts School for their third year of studies. The young students of Witchcraft and Wizardry are now in their early teens and their magical powers are growing all the time. Harry Potter learns that a dangerous prisoner, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), has escaped from Azkaban and is after him. Terrible creatures called Dementors are hunting for Black and are guarding Hogwarts School. Once again Harry finds himself in danger; grave danger!
This is the third big screen adventure for Harry Potter based on the hugely popular fantasy books by J K Rowling. Director Alfonso Cuarón takes over from Chris Columbus but the magical world of Hogwarts School is created again with great sets, costumes, special effects and a wonderful eye for detail. To keep things interesting new characters and new magical creatures have been introduced to the story. The atmosphere of the movie is a little different too. There are more scenes shot at night, often with rain pelting down, which gives a gloomy foreboding feeling. Some of the scenes are more intense than before and I thought there was, generally, less humour.
The first movie (Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone) was bright and innocent, the second (Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets) introduced themes of distrust and prejudice and now the Prisoner Of Azkaban is a little darker with elements of revenge and hatred mixed in. As the main characters; Harry, Ron and Hermione become teenagers it seems as if the stories are growing up with them but ultimately this remains a children’s fantasy adventure. Children will love this movie but younger children (eight or younger) might find it scary in parts.
There is a fantastic cast playing the varied mix of strange characters. New characters include Professor Lupin (David Thewlis), Professor Trelawney (Emma Thompson) and prison escapee Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). Maggie Smith who plays professor Minerva McGonagall and Robbie Coltrane who plays Rubeus Hagrid have to make way for the new characters and have less of a role this time. Michael Gambon was a fitting replacement for the late Richard Harris who played Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts School.
Bottom line: Harry Potter hasn’t out stayed his welcome yet and if the stories and characters continue to develop and change there will be plenty more Witchcraft and Wizardry to enjoy.