This is really when the movies start getting amazing.
Now do not get me wrong the first two Harry Potter movies are genuinely good films with expert worldbuilding, beloved characters, and good stories. However Prisoner Of Azkaban goes above and beyond the bar that was set last film. I attribute it a great deal to director Alfonso Cuaron one of the most critically acclaimed directors of our time, his style of direction allows not only excellent camera work with longer takes and flowing motion, but it highlights the relationships between characters. They banter, bicker, hang out, they feel so incredibly real and even more relatable than before. This is definitely one of the more interesting and personal stories, with Harry learning of an escaped prisoner that had very close ties with his parents and has been warned that he is seeking to kill Harry. Of course we still have classroom learning, Quidditch games, and more personal time between characters but this is when the films start taking a more dark turn. You got the slightest hint of it in the first movie, a tiny smidge more in the second, but this film balances the more creepy and adult moments very well with the lighthearted moments. There's more to love here than even I remembered. Professor Lupin is one of the most beloved characters of the entire series and easily has my vote for best DATDA teacher, David Thewlis did absolutely spectacular work in this role potraying a kind, thoughtful, and respectable teacher. I just adored his character in this movie. Got to say though, the Dementors are more terrifying than I remembered, I loved the designs as a kid but now even I'll admit I got a little uneasy when they were on screen. Michael Gambon does take the role of Dumbledore in the vein of Richard Harris, and I do truly love his subtleties and sense of humor, and it will be a real treat to see him in future films. More Severus this time around (Yay!), and just the little touches that Alan Rickman gives goes miles for me, whether humorous or not he does fine work. I really loved the pacing of this movie, if I honestly had one bad thing to say about the first two films it's that certain scenes cut a bit faster than I would have liked, like you think the shot will go on for just a bit longer but then abruptly cuts. It happened a few times for me in both films but here, they know when to hold on a moment and then move on. The sets are done yet again amazingly with more connected pieces between major sets and new locations which is always a plus. I do have 2 minor grumbles with this movie, nothing movie breaking (for the most part) but it just seemed off to me, mainly we have time travel now. Really? Why? It kind of breaks the entire narrative for me when I know Harry could go Back To The Future 2 and change pivotal moments of the series. Which is odd because I've never heard anyone complain about the time travel elements, you'd think it'd be a very split love it/hate it group but I've never heard anyone bring it up. Second, there's a bit, it's very brief and it happens during the time travel segment, why is Harry so upset? Like, he kind of had his resolution in the Shrieking Shack and made a firm decision on what to do with the villain of this film, yet he time warps and all of a sudden gets pissed and wants him...dead? It seems like a character slip to me. I don't know, maybe I read it wrong but it just seemed very off to me. Regardless, this is the strongest of the movies so far for me. I don't think Alfonso Cuaron directed any more of the films but I was very impressed with his style and attention in this one and this is easily my favorite of the series so far. Will it be topped? Difficult to say but we'll find out next time. 4 stars, 8.5/10 on this one, and next time we have the famed TriWizard Tournament.