title: HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, David Thewlis, Gary Oldman
Things get back on track after the lackluster second movie. Harry finally leaves his abusive home life, which seemed kind of forced to begin with, and is picked up by a speeding bus, providing some action to kick things into gear. Much of the storyline, after he returns to Hogwarts, is a bit confusing… but eventually, during the imperative third act, as he and Hermione go back in time to relive events from the first half, it all makes perfect sense. Gary Oldman plays a seemingly sinister convict, escaped from Azkaban for turning in Harry’s parents to Voldemort, with the right amount of frantic fervor. David Thewlis is a new professor with a secret of his own: but both characters aren’t what they seem, and like any of the Potter films, each scene, and every bit of dialog, brings a new piece to the ongoing jigsaw... so pay attention. Michael Gambon, replacing the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore, provides far more energy than the ailing icon. Daniel Radcliffe really shows his stuff here, growing into a fine young actor. Rupert Grint becomes less of a relevant sidekick, as Emma Watson wedges into the secondary position with finesse. And Hagrid’s flying pet Buckbeak is a far better computer animated mascot than the last film’s horribly annoying elf. All and all a good film, making one yearn for the next outing yet feeling like a solitary story on its own.