I’m going to go with a resounding YES. After having a week to process, I’m still very taken by it, as much as I was walking out of the theater. I really can’t wait to see it again. I thought the script was tighter and paced better than any of the other films. The direction was simply excellent, especially in terms of choosing what to emphasize in a film that easily could have gone either way into overly creepy paranoia or just total dragging, boring, waiting for action to happen! And the acting… while it makes sense that the cast would keep topping past performances, this was beyond what I expected from them! The emotion and variances of chemistry between the trio were especially compelling, both as close friends (really a kind of family) who would risk everything for one another and playing off the tension between Ron and Hermione’s romantic feelings. All of this contributed to the overall tone of the film.
Of course I have favorite parts that I will now list:
- The seven potters. Oh man, EVERY single part of this scene was spot on! It was funny, tense and the effects looked spotless. Brendan Gleeson totally stole that scene and delivered on everything his role was worth as Mad-Eye. It was a fitting farewell to that character.
- Harry and Hermione dancing. And to a Nick Cave song, bonus points for that! This was a special little added touch for the film that wasn’t in the book. It’s just so lovely. Harry is suitably loving and goofy, trying to cheer her up when Ron leaves. It didn’t feel inappropriately romantic or forced. I absolutely loved it. It was also a little bittersweet, since she manages to smile and laugh through her sadness for a few moments, but they both know it won’t stick.
- The ministry scene. It was so well executed. This scene could have been a total clusterfuck, but they pulled it off masterfully! There is so much going on here in the book and for the film, they somehow managed to boil it down to the absolute essentials and for clarity-sake, keep it from jumping around too much. The actors portraying Harry, Ron and Hermione in disguise were excellent at their mannerisms, down to Dan Radcliffe’s tendency to be a bit stiff in his movements and walk.
This was one of only a couple of parts where I did really miss emphasized details from the book. Harry taking Mad-Eye’s eye back from Umbridge, the absolute panic and guilt that the trio has when they realize they are putting the real people they are disguising themselves as (and their loved ones) in danger and some of the more disturbing and sinister descriptions and overall disorientation really added to the suspense of that scene for me when I was reading it. In the end, I agree with the streamlining choices they made for the film and found it effective. However, I’m a nerdy fangirl and would be lying if I didn’t admit there are moments that I pine a little bit for the version in my minds-eye from the books.
- Two words: Shadow Puppets. The story of the Deathly Hallows. I mean, what more is there to say? It was exceptional. Was anyone expecting anything like this? It was the perfect choice. It was a tiny animated film in itself. It was perfect.
- Destroying the locket. The actual fight with the horcrux was just a whole lot larger than I had imagined. Having not expecting that, I thought it really worked.
A few other little notes:
- The casting on Bill Weasley was right on! He looked related to the rest of the clan and was suitably attractive in a “leader of a grunge band in 1994″ way that was literally exactly how I had imagined him.
- Speaking of … that long-hair, glamrock-ish lead snatcher guy was cool.
- Ron saying “Babbity – Rabbity” just about kills me. Thinking about this now makes me giggle.
- The death-eaters, especially the Malfoys, all seemed suitably terrified and anxious about everything going on. Which just makes sense. Except for Bellatrix who is supposed to just be vicious and unhinged always. I thought that Helena scaled her character down a bit this time, and to the benefit of the characterization. She seemed more serious, and therefore, more actually threatening not just manic. I was pleased with this.
Was there anything I didn’t love about the film? Yup.
- The house elves just never really work for me. I do think they did far better in this one than in the second film. I also liked how they worked Dobby into the Kreacher scene to conveniently tie up the loose ends. I think the house elves were something that was just not ever going to translate to screen in a way that I think looks believable. I think they did the best they possibly could, but it still just doesn’t work for me the way that 3-D never seems special or worth it to me.
-Not enough Neville. Ok, so this is not really a valid complaint because he wasn’t at all in the first part of the book. I just really love Neville and wish their could be a spin-off parallel mini-series where we go back and get to see all the Neville parts that were missing from the films and then some. Because he rocks.
- That I could not immediately watch the second part was kind of a downer. As was to be expected and as it should be, really. Doesn’t mean it didn’t suck a little bit to walk out of the theater and want more more more, now now now! Again, not the most valid complaint.
I think I’ve exhausted this topic now. What would be on your list of favorite parts? Is there anything you felt didn’t work that I missed? And am I right? Is it the best of the films so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments!