Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This turned into a very appealing presentation.
Sharpness seemed strong. A couple of early shots showed a smidgen of softness, but the vast majority of the flick appeared detailed and accurate.
Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and edge enhancement seemed absent. The movie looked free from flaws, as I noticed no specks, marks, or other issues.
Prisoner didn’t exactly feature a sizzling palette, as it went with a subdued blue, an off-green or a rusty amber much of the time. Still, the colors looked as intended, and when they were allowed a little more breadth, they stood out as vivid.
Black levels looked solid, as they portrayed deep tones, while shadow detail appeared smooth and appropriately visible. Low-light situations seemed neatly defined and suffered from no excessive opacity. At all times, this became a strong image..
In addition, the DTS-X soundtrack of Prisoner worked well. Downconverted to DTS-HD MA 7.1, much of the track maintained a focus on the front, but within that spectrum, the audio seemed smooth and lively.
Music presented good stereo imaging, while effects popped up in their appropriate locations and blended together cleanly. Elements moved from one channel to another in a natural manner.
When the rear speakers kicked into action, I appreciated the mix, as more than a few sequences used the surrounds to good advantage. These packed a nice punch and involved the listener well.
Audio quality appeared solid, as speech seemed natural and warm, and I detected no issues related to edginess or intelligibility., John Williams’ score was clean and bright.
Effects presented excellent dynamics and clarity. Distortion created no problems even during the loudest parts, and highs appeared crisp and vibrant.
Low-end response was nicely deep and tight, as bass elements really added to some of the more aggressive sequences. The audio worked well enough for an “A-”.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio appeared more dynamic and immersive, while visuals seemed tighter and more accurate. Expect a clear upgrade from the 4K.
No extras appear on the 4K itself, but a Blu-ray copy contains some materials. Nothing shows up on the movie disc, but Blu-ray Two offers bonus pieces. These replicate the exclusives from the Ultimate Edition.
We open with a documentary called Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 3: Creatures. It runs one hour, three minutes, 22 seconds and offers notes from directors Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, David Yates, and Mike Newell, production designer Stuart Craig, Framestore CFC animation supervisor Pablo Grillo, special effects makeup designer Nick Dudman, producers David Heyman and David Barron, visual effects producer Emma Norton, concept artist Rob Bliss, visual effects supervisors Jim Mitchell and Tim Burke, visual effects producer Theresa R. Corrao, concept artist Adam Brockbank, sculptor Chris Fitzgerald, author JK Rowling, screenwriters Michael Goldenberg and Steve Kloves, and actors Daniel Radcliffe, Warwick Davis, Matthew Lewis, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Isaacs, Evanna Lynch, Toby Jones, Jason Piper, David Thewlis, Dave Legeno, Ralph Fiennes, and Timothy Spall.
To the surprise of no one, “Creatures” concentrates on the design and execution of the fantastic critters we see throughout the Potter series. We learn a lot about early visualizations and check out how the filmmakers brought the beings to life on the screen.
When all is said and done, “Creating” will add up to one nine-hour or so documentary, which is astonishing. Sure, that covers eight movies, but it remains a project of amazing scope.
“Creatures” keeps the series going well. It could probably ground the franchise better, as it’s not always clear what movie is being discussed. However, it assumes that anyone who’ll watch nine hours of Potter documentaries probably knows the series well, and that’s a sensible assumption. Any way you look at it, “Creatures” develops its subject matter in an informative and enjoyable manner.
(Interesting background note: I noticed that the fake name given to Chamber of Secrets was “Incident on 57th Street”. Springsteen fans will know that as a song from 1973.)
Five featurettes follow. Inside the Creature Shop goes for eight minutes, 27 seconds and features a tour conducted by special effects makeup designer Nick Dudman. As promised, he leads us through the creature shop and shows us the ins and outs of various effects. Some of the info’s a little redundant, but the “hands on” feel makes the show useful.
During the 42-minute, 28-second The Magic Touch of Harry Potter, we hear from Rowling, Grint, Radcliffe, Watson, Columbus, Cuaron, Coltrane, Heyman, Craig, Isaacs, Thewlis, Heyman, producer Mark Radcliffe, and actors Tom Felton, Maggie Smith, Gary Oldman, Richard Harris, John Cleese, Alan Rickman, Ian Hart, Kenneth Branagh, and Michael Gambon. Created to promote Prisoner in 2004, “Touch” traces the roots of the books, their move to the big screen, casting, visual aspects of the films, working with the actors, bringing Cuaron onto Prisoner, and aspects of shooting that flick.
As I mentioned, “Touch” existed to tout the then-new Prisoner. Six years later, it’s not particularly useful. You’ll see a decent selection of shots from the various productions, but the tone remains resolutely promotional, so hard information is rare. It’s a watchable show, but it’s not a particularly useful way to spend 42 minutes.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Something Wicked This Way Comes fills 13 minutes, two seconds and offers remarks from Daniel Radcliffe, Grint, Watson, Oldman, Thewlis, Gambon, Coltrane, Cuaron, Columbus, Heyman, Mark Radcliffe, and actor Emma Thompson. The show gives us a basic overview of the flick and looks into Cuaron’s take on the tale, costumes, cast and performances. This is another promotional piece, so don’t expect much from it.
Next we get the 10-minute, two-second The Making of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It throws in notes from Cuaron, Columbus, Daniel Radcliffe, Grint, Watson, Heyman, Oldman, Gambon, Smith, Thompson,and Coltrane. Guess what? “Making” tells us very little about the flick’s actual creation; instead, it delivers predictable advertising and fluff. Yawn.
Finally, An Interview in Spanish With Alfonso Cuaron lasts eight minutes, 15 seconds. The director discusses how he came onto Prisoner, aspects of working on the film, complications related to shooting the third part of an eight-part tale, bringing his own touch to the flick, and other elements. This turns into a reasonably informative chat.
”Trelawney’s Crystal Ball” Deleted Scenes provides five cut sequences, and these fill a total of four minutes, 53 seconds of footage. The most substantial pieces connect to the “Sir Cadogan” painting and his role as guard. Otherwise, we only see very minor bits, so don’t expect much from these clips.
Blu-ray Two ends with Trailers. In addition to one teaser and two theatrical ads, we get promos for Harry Potter Spells (an iPhone/iPod app), Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book, and the Harry Potter: Film Wizardry book.
With Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we get a film with a lot of similarities to its two predecessors. Nothing here will turn off established fans, but nothing will entice non-partisans to embrace the Potter franchise. The 4K UHD boasts excellent picture and audio along with a fairly good selection of bonus materials. Though not the best of the Potter films, Azkaban offers decent entertainment.
To rate this film visit the original review of HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN