Overall:

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This movie never felt TOO rushed, although some moments felt a bit too prolonged and in need of a scene edit – Order of the Phoenix had this problem as well. Visually, the best so far. The colors were moody and suitable, but not moody for the sake of being artsy (I’m looking at YOU, POA). There was a lot of Quidditch, which was great! The musical callbacks to Order were ok for the most part (admittedly some of it felt lazy), and there are some standout and memorable music tracks.

The look and feel of the film was delightful, and very much a dark comedy. Standouts include Alan Rickman, who has been mildly guilty of phoning it in a bit in the past but when he picks up and delivers as he does here, well wow, he just rocked that boat. Jim Broadbent was a master choice for Slughorn, carrying scenes right and left – very solid and perfect. Tom Felton was outstanding and tortured, and seeing his confidence slowly wither to the end where he could no longer do the job was understandable and logical.

Bonnie Wright was also fantastic, and no one does unhinged quite like Bonham Carter.

I am also sure my entire theater jumped at the Inferi, although we knew it was coming.

The much talked about Burrow scene: Pointless. Also, hated Tonks here. Hated the look, hated the lines, hated the inconsistency. Most of all, hated the shoehorned in “sweetheart”, which was “oh they’re in a relationship BY THE WAY” (Tonks and Lupin).

The fight between Draco and Harry made up for it because it was well done and looked painful. Again, top notch Felton and Radcliffe.

The new style opener: Worked. Thank you for not being JK Rowling in this regard and showing and not telling. We like falling bridges.

The twins’ joke shop: Aces! I want to shop there. Good set.

The extra addition of twins in the Slug Club: Yawn. Visual gag. Yay let’s have yet another set of twins so we can dress them alike.

Young/teen Voldemort: Creepy! Well cast.

The horcruxes: Properly explained, mission accomplished. The whole show and tell was amusing in a powerpoint slide way.
Book? Horcrux!
Ring! Horcrux!
k, we good on the concept? Good! Sweet! Let’s go to the cave!

Snape killing Dumbledore: Oh hey, Snape kills Dumbledore. Yes he went flying. The Death Eaters marching around after with only Harry chasing after them felt really low impact. They didn’t even run. They just sort of strolled out, like “oh hey, lulz, got yr Dumbledore, cya”. Stopping by to torch Hagrid’s Hut was silly.

The ending: It tried to be a bit upbeat with Fawkes flying around, but HBP was not an upbeat at the ending book. It really wasn’t! It did however convey that moment of peace, just one moment before things go crazy again, so that was suitable. It passed. There are worse ways to end a movie (again, POA, Chamber of Secrets).

The movie could have used a bit more history, and a bit less romance, but people probably would have been bored. I was hoping more for 50/50 vs 60/40 romance/history, honestly.

Some specifics:

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Ron and Lavender
The movie: It was squeamish, but entirely fitting with how I expected it.
The book: Lavender is meant to exist to push Ron and Hermione together. Mission accomplished.
Winner: Tie. Did its job accurately, but the movie kicked it up a whole notch on the creepy cling wrap scale.

Ron and Hermione
The movie: I have to say this felt the most unnatural and over the top acting I have ever possibly seen.
The book: Way more subtle, which is to say it was still a sledge hammer, but not to the point of almost annoying.
Winner: The book, for sure.
Points for: Keeping the birds.

Harry and Ginny
The movie: Cute, but some of the added scenes felt kinda wonky (the shoelace scene). A little more jealousy acting from Harry would have sold this better but overall I liked it, I was sold on the moment they actually did kiss, and her steady presence at his side will take some ripping apart at the top of the next movie. Also, way to go cameo-mode on Dean Thomas.
The book: Ginny worked more when Harry was more the aggressor (he kissed her, not the other way around) and she was like “hey whatever, I am doing my thing, oh so NOW you like me!” and in the movie it was like “Yeah, I’m snogging Dean, but I’ll snog you in a heartbeat at the same time.”
The winner: Tie. I was entirely charmed enough by the natural chemistry radiating from these two to not mind so much, and just buying what they were selling. Also, way better than Ron and Hermione.

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The Trio (and Ginny)
Ron
Ron felt very disconnected during the later half of the movie, almost like he was tacked into scenes. Strangely enough this seems to set up him well for what he does during Deathly Hallows. Still, it was nice to see Grint get a wide variety of things to do, and do them fairly well. He’s grown as an actor, but still reeks a bit of underplaying things with an entire lack of off camera self confidence. Additionally, he should look into comedy. His scenes with Slughorn were quite simply, hysterical.

Hermione
Hermione bugged me during Half-Blood Prince anyway, and the movie was no exception. At some points she was nearly as bad as Lavender (see Ron’s hospital scene the second Lavender left) and she really made no secret of her affection for Ron – it needed to be cranked down a bit. When not visibly obsessing about Ron she was doing great. Those moments were too few. She was a bit more subtle about it in the book. Weakest character of the trio here, in both the book and film.

Harry
Excellent, excellent, excellent. Radcliffe continues to improve and Harry was entirely well written, and a welcome light touch at that.

In Sum: I’d go see it again in the theater. I liked it. I think where the book left me flat and blah, this outing was lighter and fun, even despite the darker and more serious tone to it. It did its job well enough – it set up Deathly Hallows. That’s all book six was about, anyway. Not perfect, no, but pretty decent.

So go see it too.

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