My wife and I went today to the 12:25 show. We got theatre 1, but passed up on the IMAX. I haven’t seen a real movie in the IMAX yet, but I’ve heard they’re hard to follow because things can happen outside your field of view.

I try to read all the HP books that are out before going to see an HP movie, so I started about a month ago, and I’m halfway through book 5, which means I read POA about 2 weeks ago. My wife is reading through them for the first time, and she’s just ahead of me, so she read it about 2 weeks ago also.

I say that because any time they make a movie of a favorite book, I compare to see how well they did keeping to the story. The past 2 HP movies stayed decently close, just changing a few things, and smoothing them over fairly well.

POA is a longer book, and has a new director. I was a little worried about the longer book, because there’s more to fit into the same amount of time. It turns out I was right to be worried. It felt a lot like they’d taken a few important points of the plot, and re-written the story. With the same characters and those plot points, it was close enough to call it the same story.

The cinematography had a very different feel than the first two movies. It felt slightly less polished, but I got the impression that it was deliberate, an artistic statement.

One of the things that disappointed me most was the set change from the first two movies. The castle was different, the grounds were different, Hagrid’s house was different, and the whomping willow was in a completely different place.

The casting felt odd too. I feel like the casting for the first two movies was amazing. Every actor felt just right (with the possible exception of Harry Potter’s actor). With this one, I didn’t really like any of the new actors. The actor for Sirius wasn’t bad, but Lupin and Pettigrew just didn’t feel right at all. I’m not all that fond of the new Dumbledore, but I might get used to him.

However, while I’m quite disappointed on the whole, there were some good points. The CGI was amazing. I never once thought “that looks like CGI”, and they did some close-up mixes of live and CGI. The werewolf was fabulous. They did a really excellent “passage of time” scene where Hedwig was flying across the grounds, and as she did, the seasons changed.

Unfortunately, that’s all I can really think of that I liked. I felt like someone who didn’t want to read the books could hold a reasonably knowledgeable conversation about the stories of the first two books just seeing the movies. With this movie, so much is left out that you kind of miss the whole point. So please, read the books. If nothing else, you won’t have to wait another 6 years to find out how the whole thing ends. 🙂

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