July 28th, 2007

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Comment: Harry Potter 7 (the Deathly Hallows)

Non-spoiler comments

Overall, I enjoyed HP7. I think it served as a fairly satisfying ending to the series. Some characters died, some survived, and I think the final state of the surviving characters was one that most fans would find acceptable.

I certainly had my share of quibbles which how the plot of the seventh book developed, and how the story seemed to wander and drag in places. I've realized that I think JK Rowling's real strengths are world-building and characters.

The world of Harry Potter feels very complex and very complete and very consistent. It is always fun to learn new things about the magic or the places or the rules and there is always a sense of wonder and joy about the world in which Harry Potter is set.

The characters themselves are really enjoyable - they are characters that you like and want to learn more about and are often more complex than you might expect in what is essentially a kids' fantasy series.

So, in spoiler-free summary, I was content with how the series ended. I would have like to see some things happen differently but hey, it's not my book.

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Comment: Harry Potter 5 movie (Order of the Phoenix)

Walking in to the Order of the Phoenix movie, I was a bit worried. The book was big and a bit unwieldy, in my opinion. There were many aspects of the plot that repeated over and over: Umbridge's proclamations, Harry doing lines with Umbridge (no, not *those* kind of lines), the DA training sessions, the slow growing sense of things going wrong.

Also, the book itself was fairly "internal" and "passive" - a lot of the book was characters talking about their situations, and staying in the rooms of Hogwarts, or in the house where the Order stayed. There wasn't much action in the book at all (as opposed to Goblet of Fire which was almost all action).

I was worried that the movie would stick too closely to the plotline of the book and that it would really drag as a result. Luckily, I was wrong. The movie script really lifted the main plot elements of the book and strung them together much more tightly. Repeated elements like those I mention above were dealt with in either a montage of scenes or in one representative scene.

As a result, the movie actually felt quick and tight. It might even have been one of the shortest HP movies, clocking in at just over 2 hours. Some of the new characters in the movie really clicked - both Luna Lovegood and Tonks, especially. The actress protraying Tonks (Natalia Tena) gave Tonks a great sense of being offbeat, fun-loving and thrilled with everything. If I was 20 years younger, I'd certainly have a big crush on Tonks.

I particularly liked the end battle in the Ministry of Magic. In the book, it felt a little clumsy and chaotic but in the movie the first battle of the Order versus the Death Eaters flowed well. The battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort was extrememly good and really gave a sense of big, powerful magic being performed - something that was only hinted at in the book.

Overall, an enjoyable movie. I'd put it up there pretty close to Order of the Phoenix, especially in terms of giving the movie a darker, more adult feel while still maintaining the wonder of the world of magic that is one of the essential aspects of Harry Potter.