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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is shaping up to be something special. The series has a new director (Alexander Cuauron), a new look, and hopefully a newer, smarter style. At the same time, all the actors are back (except Richard Harris who has since passed on) and the story, according to Potter fans, is supposed to be the best of the series.

Personally, I'm most cheered by the departure of HP1 & HP2 director Christopher Columbus, whose record of mediocrity has made the previous two Potter outings mildly amusing kiddy fodder, instead of the dreamstuff that they might have been.. Yeah, Columbus is great at working with kids, but he has no vision. Rather than adapting the story to fit the very different medium of film, Columbus just threw things up on screen exactly as they were in the book. Look, I suppose that's great for the purists out there, but books and movies are very different things. Director Peter Jackson has proven what you can do when you have the vision and creativity to take existing material and truly translate it to work in a different medium, while staying true to the original story. So far, the Harry Potter series hasn't been able to do that and so mucks about making a ton of money off the sweat of parents and kids, but does little else to make it all that memorable.

I blame Chris Columbus. The kids are great, the stories COULD be interesting, the effects and cinematography have been stunning. But Columbus has failed to give his stories any life. Cuauron on the other hand has style, flair, and from the looks of the most recent Harry Potter 3 trailers, is willing to go that extra mile to make HIS Harry Potter film unique. For the first time, I'm actually excited about a Harry Potter movie... and to get there I didn't have to read the book.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Images