Well, this isn't going to be a serious full blown review, just my thoughts and ideas on it really. First off, I must say that I will be required to see it again do to the incredible rudeness of a woman in my theater who let her two year old child run free and then continually left the theater to get said child more soda, popcorn, and candy and basically was a distracting nightmare throughout. Why didn't I move you ask? Well, the theater was packed so there wasn't anywhere to really go and I was with 4 other people including my 11 year old niece. I feel sometimes like I have bad movie theater karma because it seems like I always get a loser like this sitting near me. It has to be punishment for something.
Anyway on to the movie. This new director David Yates did a great job with the look, tone, and feel. The kids are becoming better and better actors, except for maybe Emma Watson who has a delivery that for some reason just gets on my nerves. Daniel Radclifffe especially is really connected to Harry now so that he can totally get across the angst and vulnerablility of the character. Imelda Staunton was absolutely brilliant as Umbridge. Such evil underneath a perfectly perky demeanor. My favorite touch about her characterization were the precious decorative plates with kittens on them that adorned the walls of her Defense Against the Dark Arts office. So as she is essentially torturing our hero Harry, in the background and coming from the Dolby digital sound system all around you are these little sweet innocent purrs and meows. Awesome. I checked the book and the decorative plates are mentioned but Rowling did not write that the kittens moved and purred and meowed. So, well done on that filmmakers!
Now, of course the movie differentiated A LOT from the book. But granted the book is over 800 pages long so that was totally expected. But there were some things that were left out or changed that really irked me. Here is the short list:
1. They did not make Ron and Hermione prefects.
2. There is no Quidditch, so Ron does not become Keeper and Umbridge does not take it away from the students.
3. The Cho Chang storyline is completely changed in a way that kind of leaves a question mark as to the end of her and Harry's short lived romance.
4. Fred & George Weasley's exit from Hogwarts was kind of lame.
5. The confrontation at the Ministry between the students and the Death Eaters was not done in a way that made it feel like the kids were actually in mortal peril.
6. They let Sirius be all cuddly protective Godfather and did not reveal his reckless, petulant, immature side at all.
7. They did not reveal Neville's connection to the prophecy.
Well, geez, after reading that back to myself it sounds like I didn't like the movie at all but that's not the case. If you have never read the books and just seen the movies, it is a very good movie. And even though I have read the books, I still really enjoyed the movie. I just wish they could have made it six hours long and fit everything in! Is that so much to ask?
I will say though that one of my favorite things about this entire series is that from the lead characters down to the minor characters with the smallest screen time they have kept the same actors in every role throughout. Except of course for Dumbledore, who had to be replaced after Richard Harris' death. But I think that really sets these films apart and makes them completely believable as a world unto itself.
I can't wait for Half Blood Prince in November 2008.