There aren’t many movies I’ve reviewed twice. I’ve seen HBP twice now and I still love it. Maybe I’ll see it again. I still think it might be the best of the movies. Of course nothing will beat Sorcerer’s Stone for the wonder of it all. Yes, there are some departures from the book, but I think they make complete sense given the time contraints. It enabled the writer and director to keep the flavor of the story when they had to cut certain scenes for time. The changes were quite clever, I thought.

Spoilers after the cut.

For instance, no Imperiused Rosmerta giving Katie Bell the cursed necklace. We are meant to believe Draco did it himself. Not what a purist wants to see, sure, but the important part is that Draco was behind it, so why not? That’s one less actor they have to employ, and a few scenes they can cut to stick to the crux of the story. Without adding Rosmerta there, they can also skip the stop in Hogsmead on the way back from the cave. I would have liked seeing that dramatic scene, when Dumbledore and Harry see the Dark Mark over Hogwarts, when they know It’s On, but you know, I’m not fussed about it. The editing was pretty good here. It created the same tension. In the book you’re with Harry most of the time. There are very few exceptions. Seeing that Dark Mark was necessary, so we knew things had gone horribly wrong and that there was a race to join the battle. In the movie we see what everyone is up to. You see Draco finally fix the vanishing cabinet. As Harry and Dumbledore are returning to Hogwarts, you see Draco letting the Death Eaters in through the Room of Requirement. Dumbledore gives hurried orders to Harry as you see his strength waning, and there are noises off-camera. You know time has run out. I knew what was coming and I felt the tension. I can only assume that people not in the know felt the tension, too. Really well done.

I love what they changed in the film because it created time enough for the things that would otherwise have been cut, like snogging. I think the biggest point of HBP, for me, is the feeling of Life Goes On. Horrible things are happening all around. The kids at Hogwarts feel the horror of it. There are no illusions anymore. And yet there is snogging, and lots of it. (The girl who played Lavender was brilliant!) Hormones abound. Hearts get broken. In that way it’s just like any other school year. This feeling was created beautifully through storytelling and editing in the movie. A scene was added in which the Burrow is attacked. This didn’t happen in the book, but lots of horrible things like this were happening all over the UK, and the kids were reading about it in the papers. Burning the Burrow made the climate much more real to the movie-going audience. We could all feel the heartbreak everyone at school felt at one time or another with some bit of news they received, with just that one shot. We didn’t need endless scenes of kids reading sad news in the Great Hall or talking about the latest between classes, which there was time for in the book, but not in the movie. Cut to snogging in the corridors of Hogwarts and there you have it: Life Goes On, movie-style.

And speaking of snogging, while I would have liked to have seen the kiss between Harry and Ginny as written in the book, I was delighted they let Ron have his moment after his Quidditch glory was so rudely cut from OotP. They have their moment in the Room of Requirement. I’ll let you decide exactly what happened in there. Ahem.

I began with the end and now I’m ending with the beginning. I don’t know why I did it this way. It’s just how the ideas came out I suppose. I thought it was pretty clever that they picked up right where OotP left off, just a quick little scene with Dumbledore protected an exhausted Harry from the Wizarding paparazzi. Then the Death Eaters doing the horrible things we only heard about at school. Again, well done!