My Personal Favorite of the SeriesThe film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third in the franchise, is by and far the best of the entire series. Director Alfonso Cuaron's sole work in the franchise brought a breathe of fresh air as Harry, Ron, and Hermione became teenagers contending against situations far darker and unconquerable than before.
Unlike the first two films, "Prisoner of Azkaban" was boiled down to the essential plot and foreshadowing elements needed for future films with barely anything added that wasn't necessary. Even though the film took liberty with some of the timeline of events in the novel or various "reveal" scenes, the changes were critical in making the film version the best it could be (though in my humble opinion the Sirius as Godfather reveal is done better in the film than the book). The pace of the film is perfect and the used of the Walloping Willow to denote the passage of time was a brilliant use of an important element of the film for an entirely different purpose. With the principal actors having grown up and a few years in-between the filming of "Chamber of Secrets" and this film, the more mature elements in this film is handled very well helping the overall film in the process. The adult members of the cast with inclusions of Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore) and Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) continued to impress in this "kid movie".
The third installment of the Harry Potter franchise got a breathe of fresh and a new set of eyes at a critical point that helped gave the series a significant jolt as the material it covered started to turn darker. Add to that the boiling down of the written material to the essential plot plus the break in-between this film and it's predecessor, all the ingredients were in place to make this film shine and it did without question.