I’m lumping together my reviews of the third and fourth Potter films because these two are so similar, despite having different directors. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is clearly where the film series changes course and becomes a series for teens, not children. The filters, colors, lighting, and overall tone of the film is changed to accommodate this, and its sequel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is about the same way in terms of tone and mood. As pointed out by Cinema Sins, Goblet of Fire starts with a shot of skulls in order to make the movie seem less child-oriented. This sadly takes away the childlike wonder that the first two films captured so well, and I think that the tone of the series did not need to change to the degree that it did. Perhaps it was Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón who decided to make the change, or perhaps it was the producers and the studio, but I do wish Goblet director Mike Newell had tried to bring the spirit of the first two films back.
Alfonso Cuarón is known as a good filmmaker from a technical standpoint, and I can see why since his movies do look cool and have impressive cinematography. However, I don’t think he was really quite right for making Potter films. The movie is slow, and it doesn’t get all that interesting until the end, at which point the plot gets so complicated that the movie makes a number of errors in an attempt to express it well (and the aforementioned Cinema Sins video shows this well). Mike Newell made the series even darker, and made a film that has the most whiny-teenager drama I’ve seen in a Potter film so far. He brought on board a new score composer to replace John Williams, so a little more of the charm was lost. It is really rather strange though that I thought they were directed by the same person, until I looked it up, because their styles seemed pretty similar.
Both of the films introduce interesting new characters, such as Professor Lupin – a very likable character that is played perfectly, as is Sirius Black. Sybill Trelawney and Peter Pettigrew are each annoying in all the ways they should be for the sake of the story. Alastor Moody is done brilliantly, particularly from a writing standpoint, but also in terms of acting. Sadly, journalist Rita Skeeter did not get horribly murdered slowly and painfully as I had hoped she would, but in my opinion, she’s worse than Voldemort. The depression of seeing the performer of Twilight’s Edward as a significant actor in a Potter film is balanced out by the joy of seeing David Tennant in a wonderfully evil role. However, all of the new characters means that time is taken away from important characters like Hermione, whom I find more interesting as a character than Harry or Ron at this point. This is probably because I find her more relatable since she seemed to have feelings of inadequacy as a child that she handled by becoming more knowledgeable about magic than everyone else.
Still, I really want to see the rest of the series, so I guess they must have done a lot right after all.