claira curtis’s review published on Letterboxd:
“You’re not allowed to do magic outside of school! They won’t have you now! You’ve got no where to go.”
Really want to begin here by saying that the opening of Prisoner of Azkaban is by far my favorite of the franchise. Lumos Maxima indeed!
With the introduction of Sirius Black, the bubble we’ve spent the previous two films in when it comes to the wizarding world bursts. There’s much more out there than just Diagon Alley, Platform Nine and Three Quarters, and Hogwarts. Far, far more. As the world expands, so does our understanding of the layout surrounding Hogwarts. As Harry’s grasp on the wizarding world expands, so too does the audiences, pairing us faithfully to our protagonist in more than just an emotional way.
There’s a heavier emphasis on exterior shot around Hogwarts in Prisoner of Azkaban. No longer are we confined to the inside of the castle, Hagrid’s hut, and the occasional excursion into the Forbidden Forest. The framework set here in terms of layout solidifies itself for the remainder of the films. As we grow familiar with the place Harry feels the most at home we must also confront the true reality that the illusion of safety here truly is not as strong as we liked to think during the first two films. Wickedness is afoot, eager to clamp its teeth down into Harry at the soonest moment.
Alfonso Cuarón taking hold of the series here, where so much added severity is incorporated is a great decision. Chris Columbus handles the first two installments with rapt authenticity in terms of translating book to screen. However, I do think it takes a bit longer in the books to strike the dark tone its story needs and so I think if in Columbus’ hands, we would have had a lot lighter of a story here.
Hermoine not only channels major gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss energy when it comes to hiding her Time Turner from Ron’s observations, she also absolutely steals the show here, saving the day multiple times with her wit, determination, and intellect. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Harry does a lot here too and Rob remains the ever faithful partner in crime but Hermoine navigates on another playing field. She forges ahead independently, operating in the way that best suits her ambitions and intellectual needs and yet she always trails back to bring her friends up to speed. She’s not so much a side character as she is fully fleshed out, operating confidently outside of Harry’s immediate notice. I love her so much.
No Filch slander here, thank god! The lack of Voldemort’s presence is definitely noticeable though! While obviously done to try and put an emphasis on Sirius Black’s wickedness, I think it also perfectly sets up the audience for the horrific developments that follow in Goblet of Fire. Speaking of which… Time to put my name in the cup. See you all at the Triwizard Tournament!
Watched with my darling, wonderful Sophie, which was an absolute treat <3