Cover Story

A New Direction

Here's how the helmer of ''Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'' breathed new life into the franchise and helped his young wizards through their toughest spell yet: adolescence

Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, ... | EXTREME MAKEOVER The ''Potter'' kids (from left: Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint) get more casual duds in ''Azkaban''
Image credit: Harry Potter Cast Photograph by Matthias Clamer
EXTREME MAKEOVER The ''Potter'' kids (from left: Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint) get more casual duds in ''Azkaban''
Close
PG

Rate it!

NONE 1 2 3 4 5
Profanity
Violence
Sexuality
Intensity
Minimum Age:
Recommend It?

''Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,'' the adaptation of J.K. Rowling's third Potter novel, marks something of a franchise makeover, due mostly to new director Alfonso Cuarón, who auteured the randy coming-of-age Mexican import ''Y Tu Mamá También. Gone is franchise founding father Chris Columbus, brain-fried after the back-to-back shoots of the ''Potter'' movies ''Sorcerer's Stone'' and ''Chamber of Secrets.'' ''I was crispy,'' says the director, king of such warm-fuzzies as ''Mrs. Doubtfire'' and ''Stepmom.'' ''I was done.'' Columbus' legacy: two movies that grossed $967 million and $866 million worldwide, respectively, yet were tarred by critics for being slavishly beholden to Rowling's novels.

Mucking with a proven hitmaking potion might seem reckless, especially with a reported budget upward of $130 million to recoup. So why change? Well, the source material practically demands it. ''Azkaban'' introduces adolescence -- awkward, angry, hormonally charged -- into the thematic mix, plus new dimensions of darkness (like the soul-sucking Dementors, the Azkaban prison guards searching for escaped killer Sirius Black, who in turn is searching for...someone) and narrative sophistication (like a looping, time-travel climax).

1 2 3 4 5