During the more pleasant part of yesterday, Steve and I finally got around to seeing Prisoner of Azkaban. I concur with those who say it was the best of the three so far. It probably helps that I don't remember the book well enough to notice any discrepancies, but it also felt more concisely put together, despite its length. The length, of course, is due in part to the story structure at the end: i.e., the sequence so nice, we'll watch it twice!
The other reason I liked it better was its darkness. The cutesy factor was curtailed compared to films one and two, and the eeeeville factor played up. Things looked a little grimier and more menacing. Comedy was more deadpan and understated. (I loved the Whomping Willow nonchalantly killing birds. I dislike birds.) The Dementors, I thought, were actually creepier than the Ringwraiths--probably because the Dementors look skeletal and sepulchral, which to me is scarier than the rather buff armored Ringwraiths (who nonetheless are not figures I'd like to meet in a dark forest).
Hermione (Emma Watson) has gotten awfully pretty, incidentally. I like to think I looked like that at age 13, but let's not kid ourselves. Ron's new feathered haircut made me grin. Snape's hair, thankfully, looked less greasy this time around. And yeah, darthbeckman, now that you mention it, when the Hogwarts kids were out of uniform, it did rather look like they'd slept in their clothes. :) Shouldn't there be a charm for that? Expellus wrinkleus!
And I'll say about Daniel Radcliffe what I whimsically said about Elijah Wood, when he was 15-ish: he'll sure be a hottie when he turns legal. In fact, there was one shot where he looked a lot like Frolijah. Something about the shadows, the angle, the large blue eyes and the dark hair. I don't remember where the shot was now, but others have mentioned this resemblance.
I did think they possibly cut a little too much from the story in terms of explaining the past generation. They never said, for instance, that Sirius et al. made that map, and that "Moony" was Remus, "Padfoot" was Sirius, etc. A clever audience member who hadn't read the book might have worked it out for themselves, but I'm not sure I would have. Oh well--chances are they were sitting next to someone who'd read the book, so they'd know by the time they left the theater. Anyway, bravo! Let's bring on the next installment, where they actually kill students.
*evil rubbing of hands*