I'm not normally a 'go against the grain' fan. Normally, the majority opinion is how I feel, and not because I'm a conformist, but because I tend to be like a lot of people. But the last three Harry Potter films have been a murky area for me.
In Prisoner of Azkaban, I loved the imagery. I loved the ambiance that Curon infused the film with. In many ways, it was entertaining and soothing, peaceful and scary. But it was the first film where I felt the screenplays began to struggle with transitions. In PoA, it was a mild vague feeling.
In Goblet of Fire, it was a much stronger feeling, but I had other issues with GoF that it wasn't the issue I felt the most keenly. In GoF, I missed a few key moments (specifically the end where Mrs. Weasley comforts Harry and you get some wonderful character moments). I felt GoF was more 2-D emotionally than the first three films, with more focus on FX and action.
Going into Order of the Phoenix, I was geared up. Of all the books, it is my favorite (with six being my least so far). The film is also I think the most disappointing. Visually, it was just as lovely. The FX are stunning, the ending action scene especially so. I was so sucked in by the ending confrontation, and truly enjoyed it. But I'm about to discuss spoilers so if you don't want to know, here's your chance to go now...
I'd heard this movie departs the most from the book. Before I went to see it, I defended the practice in a general form. Books usually don't shift to movie without being changed. The change is almost always necessary because the media makes for a very different experience. When you read, you are actively engaged, forming pictures in your mind and connecting dots. In a movie, you are a passive passenger, watching somone else's vision unfold in front of you and there are many details to process at one time. What takes pages in a book takes a minute or less on screen. And so many things can be unnecessary on film and films are typically in the two hour range, because more than that makes people fidgety and needing to use the restroom and so on and so on (yes, even at 2 hrs and 18 minutes, I got up to find my left knee felt glued in place).
So, fine, I understand the need to diverge, but a sucessful screenplay flows. A successful screenplay makes you forget you're watching a film. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the epitome (for me) of an amazing translation from book to film. Truly, the screenwriters did an amazing job. The transistions were so smooth that you don't notice them. In HP5, the choppiness that first showed in 3, was more noticeable in 4, was glaringly obvious in 5. The beginning especially suffered in this area, and an extra five minutes or less would've gone a long way to beginning the movie with a better flow.
I confessed to a friend this morning that I will like the film more on the second viewing because part of my reaction the first time around has always been feeling the loss of what was left out. In 4 and 5, this has been much higher than in films 1-3, but this falls within the fact that books 4 and 5 are the longest, and in 4 there was plenty that could be left out without feeling the loss, but in 5, so much in there made for a richer book. The events at Grimmauld place (so much foreshadowing), the slower progression of Umbridge's Hogwarts coup, the slower exposition of Voldemort's connection to Harry, which I felt wasn't portrayed as well as I'd hoped in the film.
In the second viewing of the films, I already know what has been cut. I've gotten over the surprise of losing moments I'd really anticipated seeing, and enjoy the film for what *is* there. Because of that, I enjoy films 1-4 very much, and will undoubtedly enjoy 5 more fully in the future.
So, bottom line:
What I Liked
Department of Ministry for Magic
Action sequences; the entire final confrontation
Siruis' death (very painful, maybe just a tad bit rushed)
What I Didn't Like
Transitions in the screenplay, very choppy
The portrayal of Harry and Voldemort's connection
A couple of changes in FX (the dementors, the Hogwarts Express)
There were more critical components cut in this film than in any other
Overall, it's another solid installment of the series. It's a visually wonderful piece of work and the franchise is still very much magical.
For the latest news, rants, and raves on anything and everything Sci-Fi.