Movie Synopsis: Harry Potter, now entering his teenage years, quickly learns that this coming year at school will be full of adventure and mystery, not only as he starts to learn more about his family history, but also because of the increased security at school surrounding the escape of mass murderer Sirius Black from Azkaban prison.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third movie in the series, is full of change from the first two movies.  New Director Alfonso Cuaron who has made a variety of Mexican films is brought in, and truly does a fantastic job bringing a vibrant and distrinctive flavour to an excellent third novel by Rowling.  Similar to how the novel was a turning point in bringing the story into a more complex and darker area, this movie also brings us more fear and suspense.  But in addition to that, we really see some great interplay between the actors in this film, both the adults and the teenagers.  Acting performances by the three principal characters, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, are all fantastic, and they play off each other exceptionally well.  Furthermore, new Dumbledore actor Michael Gambon, standing in for deceased actor Richard Harris, does a wonderful job by making the character his own, and not trying to emulate Harris’ take of the wise Headmaster.  Other performances by Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, and newcomers David Thewlis and Gary Oldman, are exceptional.  The plot is intense, takes nice twists and turns to captivate the audience, and has frightening elements to it.  But at the same time, there is an element of amusement and subtle whimsy sprinkled in areas of this movie, which Cuaron has inserted in just the right places.  Meanwhile, there is also a lot of the film where intense periods of self-reflection and emotional substance occur, and the scenes between Radcliffe and Thewlis are particularly well done.  The design and delivery of magical items like the Marauder’s Map are flawless and well-executed, and the continuing design and expansion of new areas of the Hogwarts School and grounds makes for a fantasy movie that almost feels ancient and modern at the same time.  The musical score by composer John Williams is also fantastic and marks a changing tone for the movie series that makes sense given the intense plot lines and story.  It makes perfect sense that the score was nominated for an Academy Award.  Overall, the directing, acting, and writing comes together fabulously in this movie, and is certainly one of the best movies of the Harry Potter franchise, that can be enjoyed by children, but especially by teenagers and adults.  Well done!

Overall Review: 5 stars out of 5