In my opinion DH makes a better film than a book. I'm surprised how much of the book they kept, and perhaps that was a function of how convoluted the storyline is, that they didn't feel they could make major cuts and jumps and still keep even the concept alive. Part One felt a good deal like a chessboard being set up at midgame, piece here, piece there, so that come next film we can actually sit down and play with the board that's been set. They convinced me that one decent film could never have been made from that book without changing it radically (more so than even significant hack-and-slash). But they did show that they could make two decent films from it. Even without seeing the second film I'm going to assume that.
But, man, watching DH is to remind oneself of how interminable that book gets. I can't tell you how many times, despite the enjoyment of familiar characters, good acting, and a well-done book-to-script translation, I fell into the litany of I miss Hogwarts, I miss Hogwarts, I miss Hogwarts. Hogwarts and the Harry Potter series aren't like jam and bread, they're like wheat and bread, with one part so integral the concept falls apart when it's gone. And camping is still camping no matter how many times you change the desktop picture.
Did anyone notice the order in which the trio was introduced at the beginning of the film? Hermione, Harry, and then Ron. Not Harry first, and not Harry saved for last. Kind of interesting for a film called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, yeah? By putting Harry neither first nor last, the film established the importance of the Trio over the importance of Harry. I thought that was delightful.
I'm surprised how easily they translated two book elements that I said were going to make for bad film, if they left them in: the trio polyjuiced on the Ministry raid and puffy-faced Harry. I thought the former would turn boring in no time, having unknown faces holding the action for so long (plus I thought that whole escapade read like a Benny Hill sketch), and the latter would just look stupid. But somehow the polyjuiced trio got done with quickly enough, and was sustained by the voices we know, and the actors' abilities to channel the trio. Not bad at all. And having Harry look like he'd just been decked on one side of the face looked much less silly than ballooning him.
No deaths moved me to tears. I found I couldn't be sad for things I knew were coming. (Though I loved the slow-mo on Bellatrix's killing knife, getting pulled into the apparation mist--you knew that if that did make it in, someone was going to get that in the cockles.) What did hit me was the unexpected, and that was the dancing. Oh, I got teary. It's a pity we have all these arguments about book chemistry and actor chemistry and shipping wars, but there are reasons we have such division. For me Movie!Hermione and Movie!Harry have always had the aura of You Are My One True Soulmate And Yet We Shall Turn To Other Creatures Of Our Species With Which To Exchange Gametes. It's just weird, for me, watching that fly in the face of the author's intention.
The Tale of the Three Brothers was my favorite part of the book of DH. That tells you something, doesn't it? In the film I was able to say I loved how they did it but it wasn't the thing that made me sit up and say, "Christ, that was the only good part," as it did in the book, so, yeah, I guess there's my best proof that the film of DH part one worked.
I had this agenda for wanting to see Snape lurking behind one of those trees during the sword retrieval scene. C'mon, I want a bone thrown to me! Stop teasing me like Snape's loyalties are some mystery, dammit! But I suppose we didn't deserve it right then. The opening scene with Snape, those lingering camera shots, were all we were getting. Sigh.
Smaller squees and issues:
-I never loved Neville so well in the books as I do in the films. I guess in the books I could never see past the eleven-year-old nebbish. Somehow in OotP, Neville's, "I'm very proud of being their son..." speech turned me into a film!Neville fangirl. Watching Neville's small cameo here reminded me (AGAIN) how very much I would have loved to have seen a year of the oppression Hogwarts was undergoing.
-Draco refused to give up Harry, didn't he? Of course it was more for fear of Voldemort rather than any nobler reason, but that's enough for me. :D
-Hermione screaming does not turn me on. Hermione sobbing and screaming turns me on something fierce. I've said it and I'm not ashamed of it.
-That was me in the middle of the IMAX theatre gasping, "SNAKEY!--Okay, he's gotta die," when Voldemort snapped Lucius's pimpcane, yeah.
Overall very much looking forward to Part Two. Let's play some chess, dammit.