This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Harry Potter list coming🔜
Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts for their third year of study, where they delve into the mystery surrounding an escaped prisoner who poses a dangerous threat to the young wizard. This is commonly referred to as the “best of the series,” and for good reason. Azkaban brought in a fresh face in to direct this third installment, and it’s fascinating when you look at the differences between this and the previous two. This film is much darker, both in tone and visually, and we see our crew slowly begin to mature into almost new individuals. This is a part of life, but it feels like they are growing up before our very eyes this time around. This movie also adds so much in terms of lore. We learn more about Potter, his parents, the reasoning behind his importance, and then we see him start to embrace all of this by the end (somewhat).
Harry still carries that innocence that we love, but we find our protagonist facing some monumental decisions. The common discussion points with the film are its use of time travel, how fresh it feels, and how they handle context clues when you watch it again. These are all valid talking points because of how well it is all executed. Azkaban does so much right, but the execution of this story is essentially perfection. It is also nice to tell a more contained and some somewhat small-scale story in this universe. Our next film tells a grand story, and that is nice for this franchise, but this race against the clock is epic in its own right. They absolutely nailed the casting of Sirius Black. Gary Oldman managed to bring something that we hadn’t seen yet in this universe, and even though they once again told the “teacher gone bad story” (as they always do), it managed to shock just as much upon rewatch as it did the first time around.
The detail here is impeccable. You can also just tell this is directed by someone who knows what they are doing every step of the way. Cuarón is just a world-class Director. We can get as specific as the framing of certain moments, and how that enhances everything about what we are seeing. The visuals here are top-notch. The only major quip I had (originally) was how big of a tonal shift Azkaban was. The shift is welcomed, but it may feel a bit too drastic right after watching these two bright and cheerful entries. It is an overall awesome story, the trio is getting much better, and the contained nature of Black’s escape is perfect. We also get the freaking dementors, and those things are frightening. Also, the special effects here easily surpass the first two entries. Is this the best Harry Potter film? It is possible, but is it my favorite? We shall see.
🔜Goblet of Fire♻️