Harry Potter is 13 now, an awkward age for anyone – even a boy wizard armed with magical powers. But this third film in the series couldn’t be more self-assured. Alfonso Cuaron, best known for making the gritty coming-of-age film “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” has taken over directing duties and taken the tale in a darker direction. Much of that comes from author J.K. Rowling’s source material. “Azkaban” is heavier thematically than its predecessors, as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) learns more about how his parents died and begins to understand who he really is. Visually, “Azkaban” isn’t as glossy or whimsical as the first two films. Cuaron has reinvented the series with a bleakly beautiful style that resembles German expressionism. There are wondrous moments, though, and the supporting cast (including Emma Watson, Gary Oldman andEmma Thompson) is stronger than ever. Rated: PG for frightening moments, creature violence and mild language. Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP Entertainment Writer


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