Just got back from seeing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Interestingly, I think I enjoyed it more than either of the previous movies, although that may well be simply because my expectations going in were very low, and thus very easy to meet. Truth is, I've been pretty disappointed with the Harry Potter movies in general. It's easy to complain about a movie not being faithful to the book it was adapted from, but in my opinion the Potter films make exactly the opposite mistake: they try too hard to be absolutely faithful to the books, to the point of forgetting the fact that books and movies are two completely different media and require different kinds of storytelling, and as a result the pacing is completely wrong. Azkaban isn't really any different on that score, either. Rowling spends a lot of the book slowly building tension, which works great... for the book. When the same technique is transferred via crude cut'n'paste to the screen, what ends up happening is that the beginning of the movie drags quite badly, and the end, where all the interesting stuff is happening, feels rushed and a little unsatisfying. So, yeah, OK, no change there. But there was enough interesting stuff in the movie to make me feel like I hadn't wasted the $3.75 they charge at Socorro's tiny little theater. Which is more than I can say for the first one, really. If nothing else, visually it was very, very cool, in a way that was actually engaging rather than simply technically impressive. And, hey, Gary Oldman! Gary Oldman is always good.
A few other random thoughts:
I miss the old Dumbledore.
Ron and Hermione are so cute. Somebody, please, stop me before I turn into some kind of Ron/Hermione 'shipper, because I really don't particularly want that.
I was surprised an how many really nice little moments of humor there were in the movie. I don't really remember laughing much during the first two, but I actually got a number of chuckles out of this one.
The Dementors were wonderfully, effectively creepy. I swear, the first time we saw one, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Much to my surprise
And there wasn't nearly enough Alan Rickman, but that's kind of a given.