I saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with Mom today. I think it had been a while since I'd had a good Harry Potter fix, so this was a lot of fun. You could definitely tell the change to a new director -- everything was a lot darker and a bit creepier, but I think it was appropriate, since the books change their tone this way a bit as well, as you get to the third book and beyond. There were some wonderful new sets, and a new location for Hogwarts as well, which was absolutely beautiful (though a bit farther off from the description in the books, I think). A lot had to be chopped from the book to fit it into a 2-hour movie, but I think they did a very good job of it this time around. I would have added a few things back in, but on the whole I think it was well edited. Pay attention to the music in this movie, too. There was a greater variety than in the previous two, including what sounded like some authentic Medieval or Renaissance music, which was a nice touch that fit well with the castle setting.
The Marauder's Map was always one of my favorite magical artifacts from all of the books, and I loved the one they created for this movie. (Watch the footprints on it during the closing credits, too -- it's fun.) The Whomping Willow was really neat, as well. The dementors and the hippogriff and the grim were all quite good, but the one that was really awesome was the werewolf. I had always imagined werewolves as fairly humanoid, or at least bipedal, whereas Mom had always thought they just turned into regular wolves. Professor Lupin, though, was in between and very different from either one of these possibilities. I didn't think I liked it at first, but it turned out to be far cooler and far scarier than either alternative.
So now I'm completely in Harry-Potter-mode, with no new book due out for probably another year or two. Argh. Meanwhile, though, I'll compensate by reading Book 5 in Spanish, which I just requested at the library, so hopefully I'll be able to pick it up soon.
And while we're on the subject of cool kids' books, I wanted to mention that the Lemony Snicket books are being made into a movie coming out in December: check out the trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events. That looks like it'll be a lot of fun. I'm going to see if I can read the last seven or so books in the series before that comes out.