I LOVED IT!!!!
I think it was the best Harry Potter movie so far. I liked it even better than Order of the Phoenix. What a rare pleasure to have a Harry Potter movie exceed my expectations!
Obviously some stuff was changed and condensed; that's pretty much inevitable when adapting books into movies, but still, for the most part it all made sense and was coherent and the characters were all in character! Not only that, but all the characters we hadn't met before who have suddenly become important were introduced in a way that was (for the most part) organic to the story and didn't slow it down. Maybe they should have split all the books into two movies. (I can see it now: "Harry Potter and the Pointless Comic Bits" vs. "Harry Potter and the Actual Plot").
I do wish now that I had seen it in the theater, though, just because the DVD that I received is in widescreen, which makes it extremely condensed on my screen, which makes me feel like I'm missing stuff.
It's interesting how watching the movie really accentuates how many of the important plot points in the book take place while one or more of the three main characters has taken Polyjuice Potion. I think it's probably a good 10-15% of the book. But of course, they can't do as much of that in the movie because, darn it, they're paying Daniel Radcliffe to play Harry Potter, so most of the character's screen time had better be portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe.
Things I Loved, In No Particular Order:
--The music. Ohhhhhhh, the MUSIC!!! I love John Williams and I always will, but that score by Alexandre Desplat was transcendent!
--I don't understand why Hermione erasing her parents' memories would cause her image to disappear from all her photographs, but that was very poignant.
--Fred and George. Always. (Off-topic, if they ever make a movie out of Madeleine L'Engle's Many Waters--possibly my favorite book ever--I want James and Oliver Phelps to play Sandy and Dennys. Yes, I know that they're now ten years older than the Murry twins are in the book and aren't getting any younger, but I don't care!)
--It gives me chills when Voldemort refers to magic/Muggle marriage as an "abomination."
--I knew that Hedwig was doomed, of course, but I liked that they gave her a hero's death.
--It's to the point, now that I'm
--The guy who played Runcorn/Harry-masquerading-as-Runcorn-wi
--The digital effects on the house-elves seemed much more vivid and lifelike in this movie, which makes it all the more shocking and sad when Dobby dies. When Dobby first appeared, I was like, "Yay, it's Dobby!" but then I remembered what happens to him and I was like, "No, Dobby, run away!"
--"Dobby only meant to maim or seriously injure!" Best. Line. EVER.
--Xenophilus Lovegood was nothing like I imagined, but I loved him.
--With that said, however, if it were up to me, I would have liked to see Johnny Depp in that role since virtually the entire cast of Sweeney Todd was also in this movie (plus I would like to see what he would do with such an eccentric character).
--I always imagined Donald Sutherland as Rufus Scrimgeour, but Bill Nighy was excellent; when I saw him, I was reminded of his description in the books as being leonine. I do wish that they could have given him a bit more to do, though.
--I didn't necessarily like that they toned down Dumbledore's scandalous backstory (saving it for the last movie, perhaps?) but it did mean that there was less whining and brooding from Harry about being betrayed and Dumbledore's being young wasn't an excuse, etc., which I think was good. It worked in the book, but I think it might have bogged down the movie.
--Riffing opportunities: Whenever Voldemort tortured Ollivander, I said, "Come on, he's not animal; he's a human being!"
--Similarly, when young Gellert Grindelwald stole the Elder Wand, I started singing, "I'll steeaaaaal yooooouu, Johanna" from Sweeney Todd.
--Helena Bonham Carter is SO FRICKIN' SCARY as Bellatrix Lestrange. When she first appeared in Order of the Phoenix, her performance seemed a little over-the-top to me, almost to the point of being funny. She seems to have embraced the principle of less is more in the latter two movies, and I think it has served her performance and the character well.
--I LOOOOOOVED the scene where they destroyed the locket. It was very similar to the way that I imagined it, although I don't think that I imagined the projections naked.
--After they get the locket from Umbridge and the dementors are chasing them, and the dementors reach through the elevator bars to try to get them...that was awesome. Better than anything that I imagined.
--The animated story of the Deathly Hallows was a clever idea to add some visual interest to what would otherwise just be Hermione reading a story. Did anyone else think that the character design of that bit was reminiscent of Tim Burton? I was getting major Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride vibes (which was fitting because there is a corpse bride of sorts in the story).
--This is not so much something I loved as something that was memorable: the scene after Ron left when Harry and Hermione were dancing in the tent was kind of sweet, but it also seemed kind of out of place to me. It was like, "Are you deliberately trying to torment the Harry/Hermione shippers with false hope? Haven't they suffered enough?"
--On a related note, I thought it was intriguing how they showed Ron's point of view and how he viewed the relationship between Harry and Hermione (i.e. how his perception was clouded by jealousy and self-doubt). In the books, which mostly only give us Harry's point of view, the relationship between Harry and Hermione always seemed completely platonic to me. With the movie, however, they aren't limited to Harry's point of view, and it was interesting how those scenes between Harry and Hermione were nuanced so that they could be interpreted as innocent or could be suggestive of something more involved.
--SUBTEXT! There was actual subtext in this movie! How did that happen? Snape arrives late to the Death Eaters' meeting and Voldemort said to him, "I was afraid you'd lost your way." SUBTEXT! FORESHADOWING! ACTUAL LITERARY TECHNIQUE! Fifty points to whoever thought of that line!
--I've always been explicitly vocal in my belief that David Thewlis was miscast as Remus Lupin (who is, for the record, one of my favorite characters) so I was happy that his whole fight with Harry (in which he comes across as rather an unreasonable jackass) was excluded from the movie and that he wasn't on screen much.
--By the way, I kind of had to laugh when Lupin was testing Harry and asked what creature was in his office when Harry came to visit. I half-expected him to say, "I don't know; that was cut out of the movie!" (although I'm not 100% sure that it was)
--Also, I had to laugh when Harry was going to run away alone and Ron was trying to convince him not to (ooh, irony!), saying "What about the wedding?" and Harry says something like, "I can't stay for a wedding, no matter who's getting married." At first, I didn't really understand what he said and thought he said something like, "I don't even know who's getting married," which also worked because that point seemed to get a little glossed over.
--Malfoy Manor looked pretty much as I imagined it, although the cellar was much, much nicer.
--I love Luna. I love the girl who plays Luna.
--I was so glad that they didn't use Polyjuice Potion during the graveyard scene (and that they explicitly addressed that issue in the movie). To me, the graveyard scene is the emotional highpoint of the entire series, and with all that Daniel Radcliffe has put into this role and these movies over the years, I think they owed it to him to get to do that scene, to have that emotional and artistic pay-off. (Although, with that said, I have to admit that that scene in the movie fell a little flat for me.)
Of course there are criticisms I could make; there are things that I thought could have been done better or were just not what I expected. But overall, there's really only one thing that I don't understand ("ONE thing?"): How did Snape find them to plant the sword in the forest? In the book, it's because they stole the portrait of Phineas Nigellus, who overhead Hermione tell Harry where they were and relayed the information to Snape via his portrait at Hogwarts. But, as far as I can remember after one viewing, they didn't steal the portrait in the movie, so how did Snape find them?