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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.2%
Average: 17.32%
Pretty Bad: 5.51%
Total Crap: 9.84%

9 reviews, 200 user ratings

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
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by Jay Seaver

"Weak script, but looks dang spiffy in IMAX."
3 stars

The appeal of the Harry Potter franchise eludes me. Oh, I see why kids like it - what ten-year-old doesn't love the idea of there being a whole hidden world where he or she is a chosen savior, and that their capricious parents are keeping secret until the child escapes from them? As an adult, though, I find the whole premise creepy.

Consider the opening sequence where Harry, in a fit of anger, inflates a nasty in-law like a helium baloon, says she got what she deserved as she floats off into the distance, and then is whisked off to safety... where he's told that everyone has had their memories adjusted. In most movies, that's what the bad guys do.

That's not to say that these movies are compeltely without appeal - they feature great casts and pretty good production values. It's just a shame that they center on Harry Potter. Because, you see, young Mister Potter is boring. This is probably intentional; it's easier for the average child to identify with an average-seeming boy with a vague "great potential" than with the series's actual gifted character.

The first two-thirds of the movie are something of a pretty drag, made prettier by the IMAX presentation. We're given a bunch of exposition - some of which turns out to be misdirection, of course - which alternates with "cool" magic stuff. There's also the usual "goodness, you are so much like your parents, Harry, and that makes us all misty" (or, in the case of Alan Rickman's Snape, "annoyed"). Really, I'm starting to wish that Rowling had written her books about them, if they're so wonderful. More frustration comes from the now-traditional "oh, 'he-who-shall-not-be-named' is very scary, honestly he is!" (the best way to establish a villain is to show him doing bad things, rather than talk about how scary he is). Just as bothersome for me is the underuse of favorite UK actors - Maggie Smith and Julie Christie are barely in the movie, Alan Rickman is almost on autopilot, and Emma Thompson deserves a larger part. I also certainly hope Timothy Spall has more to do in #4.

Fortunately, the last act is pretty darn nifty. I imagine Rowling and Kloves have/had a tricky time explaining why Harry and Harmione don't use the plot device featured in that last act to get out of every scrape they're in during the remaining four stories, but just looking at this movie, it makes for one of the smoothest and most enjoyable predestination paradoxes put on film. Granted, you basically have to compeltely give up on the idea of Harry Potter as the main character (his main function in the movie is to be knocked unconscious) and accept that the movie should rightly be named Harmione Granger and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but I'd rather see Emma Watson in the lead anyway.

Indeed, that last act is almost good enough for me to bump the movie up to four stars - I came out feeling pretty good. If I were writing this in the hour after I'd left the Aquarium, it probably would get a higher grade. But now I've had a little time to think, and the reality of how much of the movie just makes no sense settles in. Why are these adults so casually dismissive of a kid being in grave danger? Why is one character talked up as being a big ally of Voldemort (and depicted as a raving lunatic) until the end? I mean, there's "misdirection" and there's "creating a false backstory so extreme and resting on such shaky foundations that even the pre-teen target audience of these stories should be able to shred it". The last third is so tight that the first two thirds being so sloppy is difficult to figure. I wonder if Steve Kloves is starting to feel the pressure of getting these done one after another

(Note: I did see the IMAX version, which seemed to run a bit shorter than the 2:21 listed on the IMDB. I haven't heard anything about cuts for IMAX, so I don't know if some of these weaknesses are addressed in the 35mm edition.)

But it is a really good last act, and the IMAX print certainly looks beautiful. It's not a bad way to spend $12.95 and a couple hours.

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originally posted: 07/19/04 14:08:26
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User Comments

1/06/15 suck perfect for kids and retarded your must watch LOTR! 1 stars
1/07/11 Stack Clearly the best and most sophisticated of the series. 5 stars
8/17/10 Lenny Zane Last HP film before I lost track of story. Better than 1st; not as good as 2nd. 3 stars
1/28/10 Dane Youssef The movies finally have a life of their own. Now Harry is alive. This one rivets. 5 stars
8/11/09 the dork knight Cofnusing as all hell. I liked the time travel bit at the end. 3 stars
7/26/09 David When harry potter movies started getting dark. 4 stars
7/14/09 cody a good movie in the series, harry gets enough of his aunt and uncle. 3 stars
11/01/08 Annie G My favorite of the series so far (out of 5) – best adaptation. 4 stars
3/30/08 Pamela White slower action but watchable 3 stars
7/27/07 Bitchflaps Hands down the best in the series so far. Cuaron brings the story to life. 5 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger it did justice to the characters. they expanded and felt like they were growing up finally. 5 stars
6/02/07 danielle its awesomeeeee 5 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Will entertain the kiddies, but the darker bits could scare them. 4 stars
9/02/06 Stanley Thai Better than the second film. This series is full of wonder. 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist How many damn times do I need to repeat myself? They all dragged a little. 3 stars
8/05/06 David Cohen Where are the school robes? Who moved Hagrid's hut? Film series going down fast! 3 stars
6/23/06 George Despite the fact you can follow what its about, The Novel adapting is undeveloped 3 stars
6/23/06 Arunita Did not do full justice to the book,made Harry look like a total whiner. 1 stars
6/02/06 Marcia Zarwetten-Grassi Have't yet seen GOBLET OF FIRE, but hope it's better than this. 3 stars
4/22/06 Jack Chamber of secrets rocks. This one dosen't 3 stars
3/09/06 Anthony Feor Harry is on thin ice 3 stars
2/10/06 Meredith Harshaw Geez, previous poster -- MEAN GIRLS is FICTION! Get over it! 4 stars
2/10/06 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Since they can time-travel, why don't they go all the way back & save Harry's parents? 3 stars
12/28/05 tony Not the greatest film 3 stars
11/27/05 Daveman Best film of the series, much better than the Goblet of Fire 5 stars
11/24/05 chris brilliant sequel 5 stars
11/23/05 Quigley story is way confusing, but acting is good, CG is great, and gary oldman is awesome as heck 3 stars
11/16/05 Adrian Despite the WTF ending, this is a different but excellent Harry Potter movie. 5 stars
11/12/05 van zwaar potters a TWAT,wizard with a bomber jacket n baggy trousers LMFAO 1 stars
11/07/05 Fan no.1 I luv this movie and Daniel Radcliffe. He is really cute. And i hate those who dislike him. 5 stars
11/03/05 jayvee chun the best of the series yet. Alfonso for president! 5 stars
10/31/05 Bronwyn Best movie out of d 3 4 stars
10/27/05 dobo fuks potter wat a shite ripoff,with about as much depth to its story as a smelly floata in the loo 1 stars
10/12/05 Tom Burns A great sequel. loved it. 5 stars
9/14/05 Jonathon Holmes the best Potter film yet, despite the rushed ending; one of the years 10 best 5 stars
9/03/05 Amin Wow! Wonderful 5 stars
8/28/05 Quigley good directing can't save this confusing excuse for a movie. ship this and watch LOTR, kids 2 stars
8/28/05 Carolyn Rathburn Awesome, loved its magic hated Harry didn't get to move out of his Uncles. 5 stars
8/17/05 JAMES STAP STAP NO PAMUK 4 stars
8/12/05 Littlepurch Book changed but it all adds to film quality. Clever additions in time travel sequences. 5 stars
7/25/05 Jake An exellent companion piece to the book 5 stars
7/23/05 DM My, how much difference a change in director can make. 5 stars
7/20/05 Chris Much better than the previous two movies 4 stars
6/29/05 .... potters a fag 1 stars
6/21/05 xyz beeeeeeeeeeeesssssttttt movie ever been made in this universe 5 stars
6/14/05 gellatina whatever you say harry potter is the best 5 stars
6/13/05 anvesha rai harry potter not too good 1 stars
5/31/05 lucy fantastic 5 stars
5/27/05 tony Is harry potter going downhill.Not his best role or movie. Very slow at some parts.But good 3 stars
5/20/05 Julia Nielson I think this movie was absoultly amazing 5 stars
4/23/05 Quigley the worst of the three. dark and pretty lame. whoever says LOTR stinks is mindless. 2 stars
4/19/05 Nicole Baugh The books and movies are getting darker but Harry is growing up. Great movie. 5 stars
4/19/05 Bonnie James I liked the first directors vison better and missed the old Dumbeldore 3 stars
4/16/05 Carol Conway Great movie 5 stars
4/03/05 virginija risteska I love daniel radcliffe and i love this movie.It is fantastic 5 stars
3/31/05 hannaho As the books get longer, it's harder to pack it all in 2-1/2 hours. 3 stars
3/23/05 Suzanne Butler Great cinematography, excellent movie! 5 stars
3/13/05 sbpat21 So spectacular and just plain gothic 5 stars
3/08/05 Nic T It was an excellent movie I will always treasure. 5 stars
3/05/05 Carolyn Rathburn Absolutely loved it. Hurrah for Harry 5 stars
3/05/05 Gloria Anderson I love all the HP movies 5 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung good but not great 4 stars
3/01/05 Jeanette T. Satisfying as an art film; less satisfying as entertainment 4 stars
2/28/05 Diane Stedner Good Need to Watch 4 stars
2/27/05 dbx Bigger mistakes, but also bigger successes than the first two! 5 stars
2/27/05 Beverley Mooren Thank you for sponsoring the contest. 4 stars
2/27/05 Charlene Javier Cuaron is a god. 5 stars
2/26/05 Theresa Wagner Great for kids 4 stars
2/26/05 Denise great 4 stars
2/26/05 James Kiang While I felt the movie was shot well, some of the location changes were a bit jarring. 3 stars
2/15/05 Bob what kind of shit are our kids watching? a homo wizard which likes the wand up his ass 1 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Another great Harry Potter installment! 4 stars
2/05/05 youreo This was a bit darker than the previous ones. It seems to be a pattern. 4 stars
1/31/05 Bonnie James First two were better 3 stars
1/18/05 Ionicera captured the spirit of the books better than the first two 4 stars
1/14/05 JJ yes it could be far far better like rotk 3 stars
1/12/05 Travis S. Could it BE any better! ;) ***** 5 stars
1/10/05 Jim Better and darker than the first two 4 stars
1/07/05 Meredith Harshaw Geez, previous poster. MEAN GIRLS is FICTION! Get over it! 4 stars
1/07/05 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Since they can time-travel, why don't they go all the way back & save Harry's parents? 3 stars
12/29/04 y2mckay I'm no HP fan, but this was a surprisingly decent movie 4 stars
12/07/04 yo gooey ur a little hp ass lovin fag,who licks out toilet bowls i hate hp,but i like this film abit,only downpoint is harry is in it 3 stars
12/05/04 poppertop205 I love these movies, and this one is the best yet! 5 stars
12/05/04 pothead its not fantasy..its muppetsy 2 stars
12/04/04 Denise much better than the last 4 stars
12/01/04 jennifer def. worse than 1st 2. director SUCKED, whats with the "ethnic" touches and crap? 2 stars
11/28/04 Charlene Javier Just watched it again on DVD. Truly wonderful! 5 stars
11/27/04 Destiny Pifer Awesome movie!! 5 stars
11/17/04 Karen The best film ever Dan Radcliffe was so HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/26/04 Puspa Allamanda The worst fucking film I ever seen 1 stars
10/26/04 lotrEEproper owns this shi& gives lotr a run 4 its money does it!!umm sure little 12 y old ROTKEE beats all 3 hpfilms 1 stars
10/21/04 Meredith Harshaw Geez, previous poster! MEAN GIRLS is FICTION. Get over it! 4 stars
10/07/04 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Since they can time-travel, why don't they go all the way back & save Harry's parents? 3 stars
9/30/04 Ionicera Best of the Potters so far 4 stars
9/26/04 Daveman Finally, a Harry Potter film that could give The Lord Of The Rings a run for its money. 5 stars
9/02/04 Victor Hom Masterpiec based on a masterpiece novel 5 stars
8/25/04 danny so bad it made poke'mon look good 1 stars
8/19/04 courtney the best of 3 the book will tell you about black when the movie dosent though 5 stars
8/11/04 f up Darker versions are always better 5 stars
8/06/04 Anthony G hott ass bitch 2 stars
7/29/04 Phoenix Black THE BEST YET!! EXCELLENT! LOVED IT! 5 stars
7/24/04 Kelly Fantastic book turned into a fantastic movie!! 5 stars
7/24/04 Littlepurch Best of the 3. Not for loyalty to the book but wel plotted and hilarious.Fat Lady the BEST! 5 stars
7/24/04 Sandy Turynowicz Very interesting 5 stars
7/21/04 Steve Adams Very long, but worth it 5 stars
7/21/04 CY NG This is darker & tighter (directing, editing, & acting) than 1st two movies but still fun. 4 stars
7/21/04 Laura Shangraw I didn't care for it 2 stars
7/20/04 Chris They did an excellent job with this movie 5 stars
7/20/04 zimtk Finally, a Potter movie for the ages. Thank you, Mr. Cuaron, for daring to be different 5 stars
7/19/04 Jessica Gill For one that hasn't read the books, I'm glad that they went in a darker direction. 4 stars
7/17/04 legend The best Harry Potter film so far. I enjyed this one more than the first two. 4 stars
7/09/04 Diesel PPffftttt, silly. 1 stars
7/08/04 Adel Can Movie Be better ? 5 stars
7/03/04 American Slasher Goddess Even better then the previous two 5 stars
7/02/04 Haydn humphry The best ever 5 stars
7/01/04 C brilliant film and books wasted on children 5 stars
7/01/04 Mikey Crunt A good honest family film. 4 stars
6/28/04 Richard Crap! 1 stars
6/27/04 Sarah GREAT! by the way, the scar wasn't on the wrong side, it was reflected by the glass 5 stars
6/26/04 M I still dont get it!! its like a really bad sunday morning kids show with better FX 1 stars
6/26/04 Graham Funnier. Scarier. Better acted. Better filmed. Just better than the last two. 4 stars
6/25/04 Marce What? No threesome? Aww.. ;) 5 stars
6/24/04 Kathy Willis I noticed that in the scene with the boggart, Harry's scar was on wrong side 5 stars
6/24/04 Lavance nothing like the book, HOW COULD YOU LET THEM DO THIS TO YOUR BOOK Mrs. Rowling 3 stars
6/24/04 almen jess gruba Its very awesome 5 stars
6/23/04 CandyChick Great movie but i think they left to many imortant bits out 3 stars
6/23/04 Rubi Alfonso Cuaron definitly brings new things to the movie 5 stars
6/23/04 Littlepurch I didn't even like the book but film was gr8. Loved the 'Back To the Future'-esque moments! 5 stars
6/22/04 Marc Basque Better than Philosopher, but doesn't reach the thrilling excellence of Chamber. 4 stars
6/20/04 Mark good 5 stars
6/20/04 Smitty A Deus ex Machina time travel ending, but a good film otherwise with nice pacing 4 stars
6/20/04 dfcdfvdwvfrf Its not as spooky as the bk, but i must say its gr8! 5 stars
6/19/04 kir disapointing, and whats with the titanic scene? 2 stars
6/19/04 Amanda Craig *WAY* too much was cut, but the acting & scenery are very good. 4 stars
6/19/04 Ena A good movie from a good book 5 stars
6/18/04 M Boring!!!! a little boy, a magic stick, satanic rituals blah blah blah 1 stars
6/17/04 Dean Total example of a director thinking he's more important than the film 1 stars
6/17/04 alien assassin a wothy follow up to "Chamber of Secrets". Can't wait for "Goblet of Fire" 5 stars
6/16/04 Scorpix Too many elements from the book were missing. It was interesting, but not fantastic. 3 stars
6/15/04 MF Best one of the series so far. I liked it darker 5 stars
6/15/04 charlie disappointed 1 stars
6/15/04 Katrina Way too many scenes were changed oiut of proportion or skipped out completely, I hated it! 1 stars
6/15/04 Laura should have chucked a 3 1/2 lotr to keep it all in 2 stars
6/15/04 Jack Bourbon Lots of Hogwash, but entertaining in spots 4 stars
6/14/04 Nulthien Dark, alluring, haunting and chilling. Fantastic transition from book to movie. 5 stars
6/14/04 Jamie sordello very dissapointing, does not contain the spirt of Harry Potter. 2 stars
6/14/04 George 2 Babyish 1 stars
6/14/04 Sarina I didn't think it was that good. It was rather disapointing to be honest. 3 stars
6/14/04 ezrgd The change to Cuaron was perfectly timed, the series is progressing nicely 4 stars
6/14/04 asdf Better than the first two. 5 stars
6/13/04 Zefram Mann Almost perfect. They left out the part that explains why Snape is such a prick to Harry. 4 stars
6/13/04 too-much-coffee mistress Easily the best of the three. Please come back for 5, Cuaron! 5 stars
6/13/04 alberto nice - children's first film without their uniform! 3 stars
6/13/04 kate very intriguing 5 stars
6/13/04 Nancy Loved the darker, edgier tone. Funny, scary, gripping! 5 stars
6/13/04 Kooler Too long, again. Oldman shoulda been more evil. So many great actors, so little to do. 3 stars
6/13/04 Daveman Maybe I'll change my rating when my enthusiasm dies down, but damn, was I impressed? 5 stars
6/12/04 Melina haven't read the books, liked this one the best! 5 stars
6/11/04 dils this installment was by far the worst. it does not tally up with the last two movies.. 2 stars
6/11/04 eddie queener great but too short 5 stars
6/10/04 Stewart Shaw Excellent. Wish it were a weekly series 5 stars
6/10/04 Large Farve David Thewlis rocked. Best. Prof. Ever. 5 stars
6/09/04 Inga Loved it but would have loved more detail 5 stars
6/09/04 dale h excellent 5 stars
6/09/04 Eppie Black Too Much of Snape's and Lupin's subplots cut. 4 stars
6/08/04 paganchyk Could have used five more minutes to explain things, but beautiful 4 stars
6/08/04 BrianWilly Wicked funny and exciting. The darker tone and imagery is a great shift. 5 stars
6/08/04 Harryfan felt movie was rushed but still great 5 stars
6/08/04 Shoanna Dean I was the best film i'v ever seen. It was awsome, great and amazing 5 stars
6/08/04 Pemika S. Lovely to see Harry and the gangs grow up. My most favorite in the three parts 5 stars
6/08/04 CWarner Read the books & really enjoyed the movie! 5 stars
6/07/04 nick2k i liked it...then again, i'm not nitpicking since i've never touched the books. 4 stars
6/07/04 POBR25 Appeals to an older audience-best of the three so far 4 stars
6/07/04 kentsan left out MAJOR plot points, lupin's character was all wrong, where's the Quidditch Final? 1 stars
6/07/04 Lust4DetH Borefest. Ending is anti-climatic. 2 stars
6/06/04 Ty Awful, boring slow! They should fire the director, editor, and cinematographe.BLAND!!! 2 stars
6/06/04 Marjanne Catches the spirit of the book and makes the emotions much deeper. Perfect 4 stars
6/06/04 SpiritofEowyn this film lacked continuty, it made Major mistakes that any editor would cut. I hated it. 2 stars
6/06/04 bullit16 Very good, though it left out a lot of key moments and info from the book 4 stars
6/06/04 michaelb14 A little disappointing, left out some rather important plot points 3 stars
6/06/04 Rich Hermione in jeans-- at Hogworts!! 1 stars
6/06/04 Wolf Maybe it was the new Dumbledore or the puberty-voices; I'm waitng for the sequel. 3 stars
6/06/04 Captain Highcrime All that sorcery and they couldn't conjure up Roy Orbison 4 stars
6/06/04 Marce Simply magical! 5 stars
6/06/04 Chance Loved it 5 stars
6/06/04 Alex The best 4ever!!!!!! 5 stars
6/05/04 Mysterycat Too much cut out...Very choppy 3 stars
6/05/04 Tom Staight My ridiculous expectations also met! Woohoo! 5 stars
6/05/04 Harry Fan Hated the film!! Not to include the Quidditch Cup Match is a disgrace! 2 stars
6/05/04 david prigge I sometimes wonder if movie-makers actually take the time to watch the films they make 1 stars
6/05/04 Denise Worst of the 3!!! Huge disappointment, the whole story line was wrong! 1 stars
6/05/04 Christina SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES!!!!!! Its stuck in my head now, crap. 5 stars
6/05/04 FragileHalo AAAAAAH, everything was wrong and the kids got really ugly! 1 stars
6/04/04 Titus This was so very well done. 5 stars
6/03/04 Littlepurch Considering I didn't like the book, this is a fantastic adaption.LOADS left out but so wot! 5 stars
6/01/04 James Kustes This is my second favorite book next to the fifth. 5 stars
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  04-Jun-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 19-Oct-2010



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