Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter is back for round three in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Based on the best-selling series of books by J.K. Rowling, this third movie takes a turn towards adolescence with its dark themes and mixed emotions. With a new director on board (Alfonso Cuaron) and most of the original cast of the two previous films, audiences are sure to walk away quite satisfied with the outcome of this latest addition to the Potter story.
Harry Potter and his friends are growing up and expanding their horizons. Once students reach their third year at Hogwarts, they are allowed to leave campus (with parental permission) to the nearby town of Hogsmeade for shopping and snacks on their breaks from school. Of course, Harry does not have permission, but is able to devise a sneaky way to meet up with his friends without being caught by his teachers.
As any adolescent, Harry is experiencing a significant change in the way he sees himself in the world. His feelings have become more intense and sharp especially in relation to the loss of his parents and the injustice of it all. Anger is beginning to build up as he tries to figure out the role he must play in the wizard world in the years to come.
After a horrible summer with his aunt, uncle, and cousin (The Dursleys), Harry decides they are too much for him to tolerate and packs up his things and leaves. He arrives at Hogwarts School of Wizardry to find himself battling a group of nasty creatures. Known as Dementors, these horrible creatures serve as guards at the wizard prison of Azkaban. They are currently stationed at Hogwarts seeking the first-ever-escaped prisoner, Sirius Black. This is the man who allegedly betrayed Harry’s parents to Lord Voldemort, and is suspected to be on the way to Hogwarts to add Harry to the list of deceased wizards.
Throughout his third year, Harry befriends Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) who is the newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. He is able to learn things from Professor Lupin that prove to be quite useful in fighting off the creepy Dementors. Hagrid, the former groundskeeper has been promoted to teaching Magical Creatures and introduces the students to a hippogriff (a flying eagle/horse). This hippogriff plays a crucial role in the scheme of things as Harry, Hermoine, and Ron once again save the day and the entire Hogwarts school.
The next Harry Potter film is underway with the same cast and yet another new director (Mike Newell) and should be released within the next year. J.K. Rowling has also made references to two more books to finish out the series.
Parents should be aware that this movie is quite dark and at times very scary. It really should have been rated PG-13 for its intensity and grotesque images. Families may want to talk about the racial prejudice against "mudbloods" and how prejudice affects our everyday lives. They may also want to talk about what can be learned about facing fears and overcoming the different conflicting feelings related to adolescence and growing up.