To be honest, not all that. I’d be the first to concede this might be in part due to the watching conditions, which weren’t very good – but I failed to be absorbed. It’s hard to put my finger on why. So much of the book had been left out or changed (which I suppose was inevitable) – having read the book was pretty much a pre-requisite for understanding anything of what was happening. Several major characters essentially reduced to bit-parts (Sirius, Dumbledore, Snape, Hagrid, Malfoy), and very confusing messages about various ‘ships. The books, I think, suggest Ron and Hermione as partners, while the films use Ron and Hermione as comic relief, and paint Harry and Hermoine as soul-mates with what you’d expect to develop into a mature, loving, relationship. Mind you, I’ve always disliked the films’ portrails of Ron.
I was also very disappointed that so much of the film was so different from how I’d pictured it in my head. Perhaps it’s just un-nerving because Daniel Radcliffe et al are actually growing up, and it’s very hard to picture Harry as a 15/16 year old from the books (in the same timeless way as the Famous Five never grew up) – quite another to see Harry looking, well old.
Emma Watson too has lost the childhood innocence and beauty, although I wonder if that was delibrately down-played in order to make her transformation at the ball more surprising. But so much of the book’s subtely and humour was lost – to the extent that this has now slipped off my “DVDs to buy” list. Of yes, and what was with Victor Krum’s eyes when he was imperioed??? If it was that obvious, it would hardly cause a problem to the ministry now, would it?
On the plus side, the staging and special effects were really good – very easy to suspend disbelief for magic, Hogwarts, and dragons. Plus it felt more like the length of Men-in-black than Lord of the Rings – no hint of a numb bottom despite it’s 3 hours of screen time. While not a outright miss, definitely not a sure-fire hit either.