So, full thoughts on Order of the Phoenix , which--like Prisoner of Azkaban --I will go to the mat defending, by the way: >> First: The Lovely Emily and I were going at eleven, but Sister Girl (who went separately with a friend of her own) said they were going at 10:30, and man, am I glad we followed their lead. We bummed around Wal-Mart for about an hour, and I ended up buying a Cadbury bar (who knew they sold Cadbury at Wal-Mart? Milk chocolate, with almonds; I'd never had Cadbury before. I think? They also had Dove and Lindt, which I love, but I decided to go for the new experience). Actually, I bought two, one for that night and one for today, and together they still cost less than a box of cheap crumbly concession-stand chocolate. Anyway, we got there at ten-thirty and waltzed right in; some years they've made us stand out in the lobby forever. We got seats at the front rail, and Sister Girl and her friend got seats on the back row, and all was right with the world. As for costumes, we had an entire Dumbledore's Army in red t-shirts (actually, they looked more like Dumbledore's Sorority, but what're you gonna do), and two young guys (both dark-haired, one wavy, one straight) in full Gryffindor kit, school robes (!) and all. And then I realized the guy behind them was also with them, and that he had short, straight blond hair combed back and was wearing Slytherin colors, and I burst out laughing at the perfectness of it. In fact, we had a peanut gallery of Mountain Brook high schoolers (at least, according to their t-shirts) down in the lower front section, and when those three guys walked in, the loudest Brookie yelled, "Now THAT is hardcore!" Of course, he's also the one who yelled "TONGUE!" during the big kiss. >> Trailers, for those of you curious as to what you'll see if you haven't gone yet: there was a much better Golden Compass trailer that included a hot key moment from the end of the book. There was a Dark Is Rising trailer that kept me in a state of permanent cringe, because all I could think was, "I know several dozen people on LJ whose hearts are going to break." The Fred Claus trailer was better than I expected. What else did they show, y'all? I can't remember. >> Let me clarify my previous statement, "I do not regret a single thing they cut": I like the book. I'm not even saying I wouldn't want to see all those scenes filmed, because I would. I'd love to have a DVD of extra scenes just to sit and watch, if they could spare, uh, a few million dollars for it. But--sing it with me if you know the words--a movie is not a book, and what's satisfying in a 600-page book can be just too damn much in a 2-3 hour movie. You have to look at it this way: a movie is like a meal. Chamber of Secrets , my least favorite movie, is like this giant smorgasbord where you fill up on appetizers and then you realize there's three main courses, and five desserts? Why did there have to be five desserts? And then you go home and throw up, or at the very least go dig up some Alka-Seltzer. Order of the Phoenix is like a fine restaurant where they bring out the first dish, and you say, "Oh. This is... this is kind of small," and they say, "Yes, but there are five more after this." It's planned out so that you still have room for dessert at the end, and maybe even for a mint, and you can go home feeling good, and not vomitous. Except maybe not a mint in this case; I did feel like the ending was kind of abrupt. There were individual scenes where I wished they'd been done a little differently (I wanted the twins' exit to be less impish and more defiant; I wanted Sirius's death to have a different tone to it, somehow--more jarring, maybe? It seemed more gently sad than anything), but c'est la vie. There were no scenes I could think of offhand that I thought would make the movie itself better by including them, as much as I might miss them individually, and there were several moments when I sat back and thought, "We're already to [whichever part] in the story? Oh, thank God. " I really like the book scenes at Grimmauld Place with Harry and Sirius and the cleaning and whatnot, but I felt some kind of profound relief at the realization that we weren't going to have to sit through fifteen minutes of it onscreen. A movie is not a staged, full-length reading of a book. And hopefully, a movie isn't so overstuffed that you need a vomitorium afterwards, either. >> I already know that I won't get my wish, but please, please, please let screenwriter Michael Goldenberg come back instead of Steve Kloves. (Can they work together, at least?) Hermione is still weighted as being a little more prominent than Ron, but the trio's interactions are so much looser and fresher and realer; Ron doesn't have to mug anymore, but is still funny; Goldenberg added the simple word "James" to the book line "Nice one!" (more on that in a bit), and thus managed to evoke an entire relationship's baggage in a three-word line of dialogue; he streamlined everything so beautifully, and managed to make what was kept in make sense. Bring him back. >> I hear that director David Yates is already coming back for HBP. Thank God. >> Luna was perfect. Scary perfect. I mean, what were the odds of some fangirl showing up to an open audition, saying "No one understands Luna the way I do," and being right? >> The other new folks: how great was Tonks ? I know she wasn't there much, but when she was there, she was awesome . And you know, Kingsley Shacklebolt wasn't exactly the way I'd imagined him, but "You have to admit... he has style " brought the house down. As for Bellatrix and Umbridge, there's not much I can say about their awesome awfulness that hasn't already been said a hundred times over. >> You know, they still don't give Alan Rickman much to do, but damn if he doesn't earn his keep. " Obviously. " I do get mad, though, that Snape is really such a horrible teacher. Which is the point, of course. But in the movie you get this general juxtaposition of Harry teaching the kids how to do things they've never understood how to do before, coaching them on wand movements and various mental approaches, and Snape's just all like, "Occlumency! GO!" >> As much as I enjoyed Completely Out of Character Shouty Dumbledore in GOF for its own hilarity, it was nice to see that OOTP!Dumbledore hewed more closely to the one in the book--mysterious and avoidant and, by the end, sad. >> You know how good this movie was? It made me like Grawp. >> That said, I don't know that the score did much for me, and I loved the previous two soundtracks. I'd have to listen to it on its own, I guess. >> Commence Pimp Mack Sirius squee... now . >> Speaking of which, I actually didn't mind way they did Sirius in the fireplace in GOF, but of the two, yeah, the OOTP version has a lot of elegance to it. I think I was just imagining a disembodied, flesh-and-blood head appearing in the fire, which was why logs-and-embers Sirius seemed like a better idea at the time. >> I actually really like that Cho became the DA traitor, and (per a discussion with emerald_skies and ter369), here's why: Making Cho the traitor has a really tragic aspect to it. When Hermione goes over all of Cho's conflicting emotions, we're very subtly given a perfect motive for a betrayal: Cho's mother's job at the Ministry is being threatened, and if your parents' livelihoods have ever been in question, you'll know that this can also extend to whether you can afford to go to certain schools or not. It's not just about Cho's loyalty to her mother vs. her loyalty to Harry, a boy she doesn't even know that well; her existence at Hogwarts itself could theoretically be at risk. That's all tucked into that one little throwaway line. So the DA is busted and disbanded--and then we find out that Cho didn't even betray them voluntarily; they had to dose her up with the rest of the Veritaserum before she cracked. And now, all this has come between her and Harry before they even really got started--and you see Harry react to Snape mentioning the Veritaserum, so he knows what they did to Cho, and how long Cho must have held out. As ter369 points out, this can now inform the way his relationship with Ginny in HBP will develop in a way that Cho's random best friend being the traitor doesn't: he's going to do the Spider-Man thing and tell Ginny they can't be together because he won't want to put Ginny in the same dangerous position Cho was. As for why they needed Cho in the first place if they knew the kids were using the Room of Requirement: how were they going to get the Room to open, if they didn't have a subdued DA member to make the door appear? >> Wait, where did Lily go in the occlumency scene? I ask only because I know that she was in the original version of the scene as filmed--at least one image of her (with pigtails, no less) is online. >> "Nice one, James!" was such a wonderful bit of screenwriting economy. It expressed everything that was going on in that relationship, and Radcliffe shot Oldman this wonderful look right after--as artemis_archer said in the comments , "like he realized something about Sirius that he hadn't before and it was so sad." And no, I don't think that Harry = James is all there was to his relationship with Sirius, because there was a lot at play there--both of them needing a family, Harry in particular needing some kind of mentor-father (particularly after Dumbledore began to distance himself), Sirius seeing not only James but himself in Harry (where "running away to the Potters' " equals "practically being adopted by the Weasleys," for example), Sirius wanting to recapture the Three Musketeers vibe of his youth, and so on. There are a lot of little love stories in the HP books, many of them more parental or brotherly instead of romantic, and I think Sirius and Harry is one of them, but I think Sirius and James is another, and "Nice one, James!" was the moment when Harry realized how they overlapped, and how Sirius might not be living--might not be able to live--in the present. >> You know when I cried? Not when Sirius died. When Harry said, "And I feel sorry for you." That whole scene, which had so much awful potential to be just another stereotypical Behold Power of Love type thing, was done so well. I actually found that so much more affecting than Sirius's death (which is a sign, like I said up top, that it could have been done... differently), because first you have Voldemort and Dumbledore in an epic throwdown, but then Voldemort realizes, I guess, that he can't defeat Dumbledore one-on-one by pure physical force, so he possesses Harry. And Dumbledore can't do anything but watch, with tears in his eyes, while Harry has to fight Voldemort from the inside (which is expanded a lot from the scene in the book), and I realized just how bad Half-Blood Prince is going to mess me up. I reread the last fifty pages or so of OOTP in order to check how much of the movie scene was actually on the page, and it occurs to me that Dumbledore and Harry are another little love story in the series. I am definitely not wearing mascara for Half-Blood Prince .