Harry's back at school and there's an escapee from the magically secure prison Azkaban, I believe the first person to ever escape (they never explain how he did, which is something I would have liked to know). And the escapee (Gary Oldman whom I love and doesn't get enough screen time) killed Harry's parents, he's told, and is apparently trying to kill Harry as well so that the ever-in-the-background Valdemort can finally return with no roadblocks. No one wants Harry to die, particularly him and his two best friends, so they go about trying to keep it from happening. Meanwhile Harry is experiencing teen angst about his past, his parents, and general growing pains.
The new teachers who are introduced in this film, played by Emma Thompson and David Thewlis, are great. The effects are good, especially the dementors of Azkaban who plague both the escapee and Harry. And Alfonso Cuaron goes a great job of directing for the most part, creating a darker, creepier environment for Harry. My favorite clever little bits that were (mostly) new to this film were the map, the Whomping Willow getting some good screen time and showing a surprising amount of character, and of course Harry showing some backbone with his Aunt and Uncle. My quibbles are: The new Dumbledor doesn't compare to dear departed Richard Harris, but who could? Harry's a little annoying and overacts a bit in this film. But now that we've seen him through a couple of films, it's easy to overlook. Malfoy has gone from beeing evil and Machiavellian to being a basic school bully. Likewise Snape is just bitchy in this installment, a depressing waste of the lovely Alan Rickman. It's still a good movie, worth seeing, I'm just worried about this slide in certain areas. I'm afraid that as these books get increasingly long, the movies are going to try to cram too much into 2 hours. It'll be interesting to see how it goes with the fourth.Posted by Alyssa at June 05, 2004 07:13 PM