Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Release Date: May 23, 2004
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
This is probably the best of all the Harry Potter movies. Not just because it adapts a book I like, but because of the effort that director Alfonso Cuarón puts in to make it an actual adaption to film rather than Chris Columbus’ paint-by-numbers recreation of the books. Several elements, such as the motifs of clocks and time, the humorous animations of the Marauders Map, and the recurring gags of the Whomping Willow are all nice touches. But best of all, under Cuarón’s direction, the students of Hogwarts really feel like children rather than characters.
Cuarón did get an advantage in directing the third film. Columbus had covered all the exposition about the Wizarding World in the first two movies, so that could be stripped away. And the ensuing films would be based on longer, sprawling novels that were more difficult to condense. Nevertheless, I still find it disappointing that Cuarón didn’t return for any of the later movies.