Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN began the series turn into darker material (more ‘hairy’?)), with a new director, reworked visual presentation and the addition of more powerhouse acting talents, including replacement in the casting of a major character. Many regard this third entry as their favorite, which toiled & troubled to #2 in 2004, spelling $796,700,000 around Potter Planet.

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The young hero has more pieces of his background puzzle put together as new teachers and creatures debut, fresh allies and villains come to the fore. Featured this time: Anamigus, a hippogriff, a werewolf and dementors. The ‘Patronus Charm’ gets a workout. Michael Gambon replaces Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and added to the roster of those dispensing benevolence or malevolence, instruction or destruction are Gary Oldman (intense), David Thewlis (calming), Emma Thompson (goofy) and Timothy Spall (rattish). Julie Christie has a brief saucy cameo. Alfonso Cuarón directs, steering things into higher stakes emotionally and grittier turf visually than the first two, more kiddie-oriented episodes. The kids are now into their early teens. John Williams score, his third and last for the series, reflects the new feel, muting the lilt in favor of the ominous.

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142 minutes, with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Tom Felton, Maggie Smith, Richard Griffiths. Oscar nominated for Music Score and Visual Effects. Price tag was $130,000,000.

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