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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Movie Review

by Shmuel Ross
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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The third Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, opened on May 30, 2004, in the United Kingdom and June 4, 2004, in the United States. As readers of the books know, the third one introduces the character of Sirius Black, brilliantly played here by Gary Oldman. At the start, he has just escaped from Azkaban, a maximum-security wizard prison, and is believed to be on his way to attack Harry Potter at Hogwarts. Dementors—a sort of magical prison guard—are sent to Hogwarts to try to stop him. By the end of the book (and the movie), we learn some surprising things about Sirius, and about the night Harry's parents were killed.

We also meet Professor Lupin (played by David Thewlis), the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, who turns out to have secrets of his own. The last two Defense Against the Dark Arts professors made it through only one year at Hogwarts each; will he turn out to be different? And there's Professor Trelawney (Emma Thompson), the Divination professor whose predictions sometimes actually come true.

In addition to these new characters, most of the cast of the first two films has returned for the third, with Michael Gambon replacing the late Richard Harris in the role of Dumbledore. Hagrid is now the Care of Magical Creatures instructor, and his first lesson, with a hippogriff named Buckbeak, has important results for the rest of the film. We also get to see part of a Quidditch match, and some very, very creepy dementors.