Top 25 Films of the 2000s – #17
#17 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
In a way, the success of the Harry Potter films was a foregone conclusion, coming as they have off the most successful novels in history. At the same time, though, their success is nothing short of miraculous. Just think about it. Here’s a series where the first movie is arguably the weakest. A series where the same cast has stuck around (with the exception of the late Richard Harris), film after film, with no prima donna issues or salary disputes. A series that is cast to frightening perfection, where each film seems more assured, and does better at the box office. After a decade where so many sequels and threequels and prequels have disappointed (Star Wars, The Matrix, Pirates of the Carribean, X-Men), the Harry Potter movies have actually gotten better.
So why have I chosen the third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? Well, aside from it being my favorite of the books – and movies – it also represents the turning point in the movies. After Chris Columbus established the world over the first two films, director Alfonso Cuaron took it and ran with it, bringing a whole new level of visual inventiveness and pacing. Just as Cuaron built on Columbus’ efforts, I think the subsequent movies owe a ton of their visual feel to Azkaban, and had Cuaron not pushed the envelope as far as he did, the series would have suffered for it.