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I was pleasantly surprised by this one! I don't know why but I kind of expected it to suck perhaps I have been encountering some HP fatigue or maybe some form of denial to put off accepting that the end is nigh for this story (as far as the books go) and so I have repressed my pubescent style love for this world. As we neared the release of this flick and all the previews began showing at least a moment from every scene in the film (ah remember when they didn't used to show every gawd damn thing in trailers?) I started feeling as if this might be the first HP movie to totally suck. Not to say that all of the previous four were masterpieces but each were, more or less, pretty quality and I was happy to discover that THIS HP was pretty quality as well.
The source material here is dense, long and dark so I was mega-curious to see what stayed and what went and how things might be changed to streamline the narritive for film and I thought they made some wise choices, ran a tight ship and made a real enjoyable movie. Though I suppose it is a tad conventional to have a lot of montage combined with a lot of headlines (news bits) and so forth I thought they were used to strong effect in this flick. I do not believe we have seen that employed in the first four and it was able to use that convention to convey an enormous amount of information as that seems to be book five's lot in the series as there really is a lot of important stuff in that book yet it is often cited as the least loved. I think that might be partly to do with the grim story, lack of Dumbly-Dore and Hagrid through larges stretches of the book (and film) and basically Harry gets jacked often and furiously by perhaps one of the most vile, contemporary literary villains I have encountered, Professor Umbridge.
I felt that Umbridge was translated extremely well and a good bit of acting as that girlish giggle and 'hem-hem' were spot on. As always, Snape freaking rules and I continue to be amazed at Rickman's ability to do so much with so few words. Sirius probably could have used a bit more time in the last film to help establish how important he is/was to Harry but they made up for it in this one fairly well. Oldman seemed a bit more reserved and less insane as he did in Azkaban and I thought we finally got to see the side of Sirius that Harry feels related to as opposed to a near deranged psycho he kind of came off as previously. I also feel that Gambon's Dumbledore, now having played the role one time more than Harris, has come quite into his own as this was the first time I felt a sense of power in Dumbledore since Harris had passed.
Voldermort was fantastic. Fiennes seems to understand the body language of evil in such a way that just his strange, snake-ish head snap early in the film becomes a reoccurring theme for Harry's psyche as demonstrated in the occulemency lessons to great effect. Each adult actor in this series really impress as they almost always have a few lines and a few moments to communicate entire characters and I feel all should be commended as there were many nice moments from each.
As usual with HP flicks, I always wish there was more...More depth, more things from the book (like the whole Percy thing, more time at 12 Grimwauld Place, etc.) and to be nit-picky I wanted more Order of the Phoenix as they were almost a non-entity in the film. I also wish they would cast more awkward people as I never pictured Tonks being quite that hot and during her few moments I felt like she was constantly casting what appeared to be lusty glances at Harry, ick. I also do not recall Harry slipping Cho tounge in the book either but then this is Hollywood.
Thus, in the end, I dug this one more than I expected to so it is always easy to hand out a good review when your expectations were low going in. Probably not the best ever but I thought it was done quite well considering the length and depth of the source material. I look forward to Half-Blood Prince in the next year or so...Perhaps Fred and George will have gray hair and appear to look in their fifties in that movie.
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