I was completely blown away by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As far as I was concerned, it left the first two movies in the dust. I know he isn't directing Goblet of Fire, butAlfonso Cuarón needs to be the one to direct Order of the Phoenix.
I liked the changes that were made to the set and the costuming. The new exterior for Hogwarts looked more like what I pictured Hogwarts to be. The Hogwarts grounds in the first two films was so flat and manicured. It wasn't bad, but the craggier land seems more magical. The wardrobe changes for the students also helped with the tone. There was nothing wrong with the proper, pressed school uniforms in the first two films, but the little changes really helped emphasize the transition into the teen years. Particularly if you look at the rumples shirts and loose neckties of the boys. They just screams "WE'RE THIRTEEN!" It was also nice to see the kids dressed in "muggle clothes" in their off hours.
The new casting choices continued to be brilliant. While Michael Gambon is not Richard Harris' doppleganger, he carried off the role of Dumbledore so well that it actually took me aout twenty seconds to remember that Harris had died and that a change had been made. Another member of our movie watching group, who had just seen the other two movies this week, didn't even realize that it was a different actor, though he knew there was something going on. He thought that a frame had been flipped.
David Thewlis was just what I'd pictured Professor Lupin to be, and we all know how well Gary Oldman can push the envelope.
There was a lot from the book that was left out in the movie, but most of that was simply streamlining. For example, the headless hunt is given a a brief visual reference but no further explanation. Perfectly fine, because though it is an entertaining episode, it doesn't serve to move the main plot along. On the other hand, I wish that Lupin had given Harry the explanation for "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs", it wouldn't have added much to the movie in terms of length, but it would have explained a whole lot of things.
Finally, I have to say that I think all the people who have been saying that the cast of kids is going to have to change because Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, et. al are getting too old to play the characters are full of it. They will be 14, 15, 16, and 17 in the next movies...high schoolers. People much older than they have played convincing high school students. I think the only reasons for casting changes would be the regular sort: someone doesn't want to play the role anymore, is asking too much money, etc.
Anyway, I am definitely going to go see the movie again. Probably going to want it on DVD when it comes out, too. I hope Goblet is at least this good.