I will probably be unable to pin down exactly why this entry in the Harry Potter series is, quite possibly, my favorite. Maybe it was because it introduced a character that loved Harry for who he is, and was going to eventually rescue him from his existence with the Dursleys. Maybe it’s that we start to see Dumbledore truly intervening and manipulating how events happen. Maybe it’s because there’s absolutely no tension between Ron, Harry, or Hermione (except for the part where Harry and Ron are confused as to how she’s taking so many classes).
Actually, I think what I love about it is that it lets us see a glimpse of Harry’s parents as they lived. With the introduction of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black, we are now able to see a fuller, rounder version of James and Lily. Well, James, anyway. Because up until now, it’s been all about how Harry looks like his father, but has his mother’s eyes. But we don’t know what that means. We’ve known that James and Lily were both in Gryffindor, and that James played Quidditch, and that James and Lily were loved by everybody except Severus Snape.
But now, we learn that James had three close friends in Sirius, Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. We are led to believe that Sirius betrayed the Potters, but of course it turns out to be the one nicknamed Wormtail. We learn that James, Sirius and Lupin were so loyal to each other, that James and Sirius became Animagi to stay close to Lupin during his transformations. (We also learn that Pettigrew masters this trick as well, but we learn he does it to remain close to powerful people, not out of the love that James and Sirius have.) We learn that James is honorable, in that when Sirius decided to play a prank on Snape, James saves Snape’s life.
And I love that they were, essentially, merry pranksters. When Snape tries to get the Marauder’s Map to reveal itself, their sense of humor shines. Of course they would be making a map of all the hidden stuff in Hogwarts. And, as Lupin says:
“I have no hesitation in saying that James would have been highly disappointed if his son had never found any of the secret passages out of the castle.” [424-425]
And in that moment, I take a second and imagine what Harry’s life could have been if James and Lily hadn’t been murdered. To be honest, probably not all that interesting. [I’ll revisit this theory in a later post.]
So at this point in the series, we are starting to learn some of the personalities that fought in the original Wizarding war. Of course, some of it is all going to get blown to hell when I reread Order of the Phoenix, but let’s leave it at this nice place for now and move on to other things.
Let’s see, what else … well, let’s talk about the movie. This is the HP movie I have seen the most. I saw it three times when it was in theatres, and then I bought my own copy (my sister currently has all … six out of seven? I think we owe her Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 for something). In my last year of college, I was taking a lot of arty project-style classes — Costuming and Makeup. So there were many a night where I was staying up late to complete homework. And Prisoner of Azkaban and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy were my go-to background noise movies. I think there was one project where I watched both of them twice. Alfonso Cuaron took the first step towards the dark series it was about to become, and I can’t thank him enough.
Steve Kloves, however … I don’t want to get into it too much, because I’m pretty sure all the HP freaks like me are following the same news, but, dude — stop giving Ron’s lines to Hermione. Because here’s how it’s written in the book:
[…] Ron, however, spoke to Black.
“If you want to kill Harry, you’ll have to kill us too!” he said fiercely, though the effort of standing upright was draining him of still more color, and he swayed slightly as he spoke. 
And here’s how it ended up in the movie (just watch the first minute, that’s all you need):
STOP GIVING HERMIONE RON’S LINES, RON IS IMPORTANT TOO
Other things of note from Prisoner of Azkaban:
If I haven’t mentioned it before, one of my favorite characters is Lee Jordan. He doesn’t show up much, but he’s always hilarious when he does. Especially when he commentates for the school Quidditch matches. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the great comedic team of Jordan and McGonagall could rival that of Fozzie the Bear and Statler & Waldorf:
“They’re off, and the big excitement this match is the Firebolt that Harry Potter is flying for Gryffindor. According to Which Broomstick, the Firebolt’s going to be the broom of choice for the national teams at this year’s World Championship –”
“Jordan, would you mind telling us what’s going on in the match?” interrupted Professor McGonagall’s voice.
“Right you are, Professor — just giving a bit of background information — the Firebolt, incidentally, has a built-in auto-brake and –”
“Okay, okay, Gryffindor in possession …” [259-260]
“Gryffindor leads by eighty points to zero, and look at that Firebolt go! Potter’s really putting it through its paces now, see it turn — Chang’s Comet is just no match for it, the Firebolt’s precision-balance is really noticeable in these long –”
“JORDAN! ARE YOU BEING PAID TO ADVERTISE FIREBOLTS? GET ON WITH THE COMMENTARY!” [260-261]
Foreshadowing Fun: Harry is reading A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot in the first chapter.
More Foreshadowing Fun: Our first introduction to Cedric Diggory:
“[The Hufflepuff Team’s] got a new Captain and Seeker, Cedric Diggory –”
Angelina, Alicia, and Katie suddenly giggled.
“What?” said Wood, frowning at this lighthearted behavior.
“He’s that tall, good-looking one, isn’t he?” said Angelina.
“Strong and silent,” said Katie, and they started to giggle again.
“He’s only silent because he’s too thick to string two words together,” said Fred impatiently.” [168-169]
The only reason this is so freaking funny to be is because in Goblet of Fire, Cedric Diggory is played by … Robert Pattinson. And he is too thick to string two words together. Look, I’ve sat through two Twilight movies, and while Goblet of Fire is my least-favorite Harry Potter movie, I will gladly sit through that a hundred times before being forced to watch Twilight again.
And finally, I leave you with this, the (second) best thing to come out of the internets where Harry Potter is concerned [warning for language!]:
Grade for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: 5 stars