Film / Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Arthur Weasley: Harry, I want you to swear to me that whatever you might hear, you won't go looking for Black.
Harry: Mr. Weasley, why would I go looking for someone who wants to kill me?

The one that everyone loves.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third Harry Potter film, released in 2004 and directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

Sirius Black, a mass murderer believed to have been a supporter of Voldemort, has escaped from Azkaban, the wizarding prison, and is allegedly out to kill Harry. In response, the Ministry of Magic sends Dementors, a race of dreadful creatures, to guard Hogwarts and their powers seem to affect Harry especially.

What differentiates POA from the first two movies is that it develops a highly divergent path from the book, taking a more unique and character-driven approach, while the first two movies (both directed by Chris Columbus) were notably undeviating when compared to the original books. Prisoner can be easily be seen as the most controversial film in the series, but it opened to mass critical success and is highly seen as the most important and pivotal Potter film, as future films took similar risks to abandon a linear perspective in favor of more cinematic elements.

Came out one year after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix hit bookshelves.

Followed by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Tropes exclusive to this film:

  • Abandoned Playground: The first indications of the Knight Bus' arrival include swings that start moving softly, as does a merry-go-round and a seesaw. The effect is excellently eerie.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Hermione is shown popping up seemingly out of nowhere during lessons, reflecting how she's using the Time Turner. In the book Ron merely wondered how she was getting to all her classes and it wasn't explained until the climax.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • In the book Lupin warns Harry that Sirius could use the map to find him. It's eventually revealed that he knows this because they helped write it. The movie doesn't reveal this, rendering this warning kind of moot. Likewise the identities of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs aren't stated (but are at least implied).
    • A smaller case: Lupin stops Harry from facing the boggart in class because he fears it would turn into Lord Voldemort. In the book he jumps in front of Harry before he can face it. In the movie however the boggart clearly turns into a Dementor. The odd thing is that Lupin uses the Voldemort excuse when explaining it later.
    • Otherwise subverted with werewolves. In the book Snape asks students how to distinguish between a werewolf and a true wolf (and werewolves look like normal wolves in this case). In the film the werewolf looks more like a traditional man-wolf hybrid. So Snape's question instead becomes how to tell between a werewolf and animagus.
    • Inverted when it comes to the Time Turner. Harry discovers who really cast the Patronus through a sudden eureka moment in the book. However the movie foreshadows that the future selves influence past events.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Harry when telling Aunt Marge about his "experience" at St. Brutus's.
  • Balloon Belly: Aunt Marge. Good lord.
    • Popping Buttons: The intensity of which, on its own merits, justifies this scene being committed to film.
  • Big "Shut Up!": Harry says this twice to Aunt Marge at the kitchen table.
  • Brick Joke: While riding the Knight Bus, the shrunken head warns Harry that "If you order the pea soup, be sure to eat it before it eats you." Later, while talking with Fudge, he offers Harry some pea soup, which Harry adamantly refuses.
  • Call Forward: After Harry falls off his broom, the Weasley twins comment on how high he fell and say to Ron "We'll walk you off the Astronomy Tower and see how you come out looking", unintentionally foreshadowing how/where Dumbledore dies in The Half-Blood Prince.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Ron has one which segues right into a Waking Non Sequitur, in which he begins talking about spiders that wanted him to tap dance.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: With Fidelius Charm being cut out Peter being the one who betrayed Potters comes of like this since the only thing that "proved" his guilt was that he faked his death and was pretending to be a rat for twelve years.
  • Cut To The Funny: After Harry arrives to the Leaky Cauldron, Cornelius Fudge gives a long talk about how they caught Aunt Marge and deleted her memory after Harry accidentally blew her up. During this, instead of Fudge's face, we see Tom the Barkeep offer Harry some disgusting-looking pea-soup and bread.
  • Darker and Edgier: Goes along with the aging of the characters and thus the target audience along with them. Marks a distinct turning point for the film franchise, where everything from the music to the cinematography to Hogwarts' very architecture has taken a turn for the complex and the noir.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: While Aunt Marge's treatment of Harry was quite rude, and deserving of harsh correction, the body horror of her transformation seems out of line with her actual transgressions and suggests that magic be used to silence someone whose words you don't want to hear.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Doesn't even begin to describe the Knight Bus. "It's gonna be a bumpy ride!"
  • Dropped Glasses: Harry during the Whomping Willow scene. We even get to see through his perspective (it looks awfully blurry).
  • Epic Rocking: The soundtrack ends with the 12-minute "Mischief Managed".
  • Fake Kill Scare: At one point, they hear what they think is Buckbeak being executed. It turns out to be the executioner slicing a pumpkin with his axe after he finds out Buckbeak escaped.
  • Flat "What.": Harry does this when Hagrid tells him that he can ride Buckbeak.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: Harry, on his Firebolt. Not only that, but just as Harry's about to fly into the camera, a freeze-frame occurs that smushes his face all over the screen. Hard not to be startled by. Provides the page image.
    • The same smudge effect is used when someone is receiving a Dementor's Kiss.
  • Foreshadowing: Near the beginning of the film, there's a Freeze-Frame Bonus where you see a wizard in the Leaky Cauldron is seen reading A Brief History of Time. The last act is based heavily around time travel.
    • Lupin teaching Harry's class how to deal with the Boggart, a magical creature that is warded off with the combination of a spell and positive thoughts, foreshadowing him teaching Harry how to deal with Dementors.
    • In this class, we learn that the Boggart can take on the form of a person's greatest fear. When Lupin pushes himself in front of Harry to protect him from the Boggart-as-Dementor, the boggart turns into a full moon. Why a full moon? Hmmmm...
    • In the very next scene in the movie, Snape has to cover Lupin's class (because Lupin is "unable to teach at the moment" and he jumps ahead a few chapters to do a lesson on werewolves. He then finds an excuse to assign the entire class (or maybe it's just Gryffindor) to write up a report on werewolves, focusing on recognizing them, due the next day.
    • One extremely subtle one — the silent executioner, Walden MacNair, grins at Harry when he walks past him. Goblet of Fire (the book, anyway) will reveal that he's a Death Eater.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A sharp eye during the credits might catch something interesting.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: The Fat Lady attempts this, but has to resort to breaking the glass on her frame.
  • Got Volunteered: When Hagrid asks who in the class wants to ride Buckbeak, everyone but Harry takes a step backwards.
  • Iconic Outfit: Hermione's pink hooded sweater and Harry's blue shirt.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Sirius invokes this to stave off Remus's transformation. It doesn't work.
  • Iris Out: Used frequently.
  • Jump Scare: Of sorts. See Fly-at-the-Camera Ending.
  • Keep Reading: When the Marauder's Map insults Snape, he angrily hands it to Harry and orders him to read it. As is typical, Harry hesitates halfway through, because he's nervous about reading a text that insults Snape, but Snape calmly tells him: "Go on."
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Lupin and Sirius start arguing, even with Snape pressing his wand into Sirius' neck. Snape even lampshades it.
    Lupin: Severus, don't be a fool.
    Sirius: He can't help it, it's bound to be a habit by now.
    Lupin: Sirius, be quiet!
    Sirius: Be quiet yourself, Remus!
    Snape: Oh listen to you two, quarreling like an old married couple.
  • The Oner: As a staple of Alfonso Cuarón, the film contains several of these.
  • Pet the Dog: In the film version. When Snape realizes there's an angry werewolf standing behind him, the first thing he does is to push three students he loathes behind himself to protect them.
  • Precision F-Strike: In Aunt Marge's scene, she uses the word "bitch", albeit as a term for a female dog. The intent, however, is very much there. Using the metaphor of dogs breeding was just a convenient way for her to call Harry's mother that.
  • Prompting Nudge: Ron has to nudge Harry during the Hippogriff lesson in order for him to go forward as Hagrid had asked.
  • Scooby Stack: The trio do this on their way out of Hagrid's hut when Fudge, Dumbledore, and the executioner arrive.
  • Sequel Escalation: As with the book, averted; this is the only entry without some form of Voldemort, the antagonist is actually not after Harry at all, and the climax doesn't involve a heavy action sequence coming off the titular Chamber of Secrets scene in the previous movie.
  • Shout-Out: To Shakespeare: The song "Double Trouble" is composed of lines from the Three Witches' chant.
  • Shrunken Head: The film has a number of talking shrunken heads, most prominently the one on the Knight Bus that speaks instead of Ernie, the bus driver. They are mostly wise-cracking Plucky Comic Relief characters, although they also provide some exposition. They don't appear in the book, though J.K. Rowling has said she wishes she'd thought of it.
  • That Poor Car: When the Knight Bus arrives at the Leaky Cauldron, it is unable to completely stop and while it decelerates it nudges into a car, sounding its alarm.
  • That Poor Cat: Directly after the Knight Bus leaves after dropping off Harry at the Leaky Cauldron.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: See Catapult Nightmare.
  • Weirdness Censor: When Marge is being blown up, she doesn't react as if what is happening to her is impossible. It is more "Help me, Vernon!" than "What is happening to me!"
  • Wolf Man: Unlike the book where Lupin's werewolf form looks almost like a normal wolf, in this film he has a generally humanoid shape with wolf-like snout and ears, clawed hands and digitigrade feet.