Newswise — It's almost time to board Platform nine and three quarters and return to Hogwarts with Harry, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger and the gang. Excitement is building for Warner Brother's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, opening in theaters June 4. The third film made from the books in the Harry Potter series shows Harry and his friends growing up and becoming teens. Gary Oldman plays escaped murderer, Sirius Black who pursues the teenagers during the story.

One of the University of Maryland's own Harry Potter experts - Jennie Levine - says that "Prisoner of Azkaban" is her favorite book of the series. She thinks this film will be the best to date.

Q: What did you think about "Prisoner of Azkaban" compared to the other Harry Potter books?

A: "Prisoner of Azkaban," the third in the Harry Potter book series, was my personal favorite. It was the book that really revealed a great deal about Harry's past, his parents' past, and the other characters, such as Professor Snape. The new characters introduced in this book, such as Professor Lupin, are extremely well-developed.

Q: What are your expectations for the movie?

A: From what I have seen, this movie is going to be the best. Alfonso Cuaron really seems to understand teenagers, and this is the book where Harry and his friends really start to become teenagers. He's done some interesting things from what I've seen in the previews, such as putting Harry and Co. in everyday clothing except when they are in class (Christopher Columbus had them in school uniforms 24/7 while at Hogwarts, with a few minor exceptions). He seems to have made them all a little bit more hip.

This being my favorite book, I was prepared to be extremely critical of anything done in the movie, because I found the first two films disappointing. The casting of David Thewlis (a little-known but excellent actor) as Professor Lupin made me extremely hopeful, as did the casting of Gary Oldman as Sirius Black. Those are two actors who would find it very difficult to mess up two of the most important roles in the book.

Reading "Prisoner of Azkaban" was thrilling in a way that no book had been thrilling to me since childhood, and I urge people who *haven't* read it, to at least read up to the "Prisoner of Azkaban" before seeing the movie. At LEAST read up to the end of Chapter Eighteen: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. That's all I'm saying. I'd hate to think of anyone depriving themselves of that thrill (some of the Lego toys I've seen already give away a major plot point).

And if you read the book, and then watch the latest theatrical trailer for "Prisoner of Azkaban," you might understand why, when I see Dan Radcliffe, as Harry, yell "Expecto Patronum!", I really think that this one will be a good one.

Q: What are your hopes for future Harry Potter movies?

A: They've already started planning to film the fourth book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Cuaron will not be doing this one and I am already skeptical. It's an extremely long and intricate book, jam-packed with information, and I think that it would need to be six hours long as a movie to do it justice. (The 1995 BBC/A&E production of "Pride and Prejudice" was six hours long and the closest thing I've seen to perfection in transforming a book into a movie, and "Pride and Prejudice" is a much shorter book.)

In a way, I wish they would have waited to make any of the movies until after the book series was finished, and I have a feeling that fifty years from now, there will be some really good Harry Potter movies made. To do that, they need to do what Peter Jackson and his crew did with "Lord of the Rings": sit down and really try to figure out how to turn the books into a movie, as a series. The first two movies were close to the book in look and feel, but lacked in plot and emotion (I thought). As big a Harry Potter fan as I am, I haven't really gone back to watch either one on video. They don't draw people in, and they don't do the books justice.

But it looks like "Prisoner of Azkaban" might be an exception.

Online at:

Additional Harry Potter Experts at: