The Potterphobic won't go to see the film. The Potterphilic will be compelled by overwhelming hype. On the sidelines, probably dragged by their Potterphilic friends, will be those who balk at the idea of seeing the movie before reading the books.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will not disappoint the two latter groups. Alfonso Cuaron's directing is a pleasant change of pace from the past two Chris Columbus films. Columbus's past two Harry Potter films were essentially vehicles for elaborate sets and a John Williams score.

Cuaron understands that the setting of Harry Potter is otherworldly, and brings the focus back on the central characters, not indulging in too many flights of magic outside of the plot.

The dialogue has been pared down, lacking most of the lines which made you wince in the first two films.

The cast is strong yet again, especially Gary Oldman, who plays his patented nutcase character. In general, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a pleasant experience, if not an overwhelming film.


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