Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has quite improved as an actor (not that he was ever bad), and certainly he has a quiet screen strength. In fact, this is a very well acted film. Well directed to boot, from the get go to, errr... uhm, almost to the end. The film's pace, acting, composition, cinematography, moody dark lighting and well-integrated score create a magical cinematic experience with greater depth, grit and maturity than the previous two. It's truly enjoyable, and I for one can find nothing wrong with the first two hours.
Potter is feistier this time around, more assertive, less patient, less a spectator in his own film (as I'd previously made mention of in the earlier Potter1 and Potter2 films). Aesthetically composed images role well with the special effects which are no longer spectacle on their own, but rather stimulating by way of idea, invention, and art.
Additionally, the story is fun, curious and somewhat unfettered by a sort of generic formula and those usual assumptions of what is acceptable in a "children's book." This Potter is thirteen and he's up for a little revenge. Although, the prisoner (after which the film is titled) is noticeably absent from most of the production.
Which brings me to, well, the unpleasantry. While viewing, I was hoping to herald this film as one of the best of the year. Unfortunately, as the picture spreads its wings and gallops into a climactic emotional arc, the arc bends, breaks, perhaps. And while some of the events/twists of the "extended ending" are somewhat interesting, they lack the momentum created so artfully earlier. In short, an excellent film, overstays its welcome with an over-evented, under-climactic ending. This shortcoming drops my rating from an A (dare I say, I was even thinking A+ at some points) to an overall A-.
The film is due to be released in IMAX DMR on the same date. (DMR is a process that takes the original 35mm print and digitally "improves" it for the larger IMAX screen.)