I wasn't quite looking forward to this movie all that much because Order of the Phoenix was probably my least favorite of the books so far. I mean, yeah, there were a lot of good things in it, as with all the books, but I wasn't too big a fan of angry, yelling-in-capital-letters Harry who was making dumb choices. Yeah, yeah, growing pains I guess.
That said, I thought the movie was actually pretty good. Somehow they took the longest book of the series and turned it in the shortest movie so far, and I have to say that they didn't leave out that many important things. I wish that they would have left in the part at St. Mungos where the kids see Professor Lockhart and Neville's parents, and also the bit with Rita Skeeter and the Quibbler, but I can understand why they didn't. The trial was really well done, all the Dumbledore's Army bits were fantastic, and I definitely loved the Weasley twins' exit from Hogwarts. The flying scenes over London were quite spectacular too.
Other good things: Imelda Staunton as Umbridge and Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood. Just perfect casting. Umbridge really made your skin crawl and Luna was just the right amount of spacey and dreamy. I noticed that most of Luna's lines were lifted verbatim from the book, which was smart because, really, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Also liked the casting for Tonks, though we didn't get to see her much. In fact, I feel like we didn't really get to see much of the adults at all. McGonagall and Snape and Moody and Sirius and Lupin and Hagrid were very much offscreen for most of the movie, which can't be helped, I suppose, but kind of disappointing nonetheless.
Our main trio did a commendable job. Seeing the snippets of the first movie throughout really underlines how much they've grown up and it's kind of nice to see. It's not often that we get such a long franchise with all the same actors. Ron was too much in the background for my taste though, and Emma Watson really needs to stop saying all her lines so forcefully. I know that's pretty much Hermione's personality but I was kind of annoyed by all her heavy breathing.
So...other things I didn't like? I saw the movie in 3D IMAX, and it was kind of less than impressive. I've seen one other 3D IMAX movie (Tom Hank's From the Earth to the Moon) but that was entirely made for that format and was really excellent. This one had a 20-minute sequence near the end in 3D and since it was filmed for both regular and 3D, I feel it wasn't really that successful. Seeing it on the huge screen was nice though.
I thought the beginning was odd. We didn't see the Dursleys at all in the last movie and I still remember them with their funny 50s(?) era clothes from the earlier movies. So seeing Dudley in his sports jersey and big chain was strange. And Mrs. Figg wasn't at all like I pictured her.
Bellatrix Lestrange...I know she's a Death Eater and she attacked Neville's parents and she was in Azkaban and all that but somehow I just didn't picture her as being THAT crazy. Helena Bonham Carter obviously had a blast playing her but I don't know, I thought she was kind of over the top.
And Dumbledore. Sigh. I think this is really the biggest problem in the movie franchise right now, and one that can't easily be fixed. Dumbledore is probably one of the most beloved characters from the books but in the movies he's just ALL WRONG. I know Michael Gambon's a fantastic actor, but he's playing the role as all authority and is totally missing the whimsical bent that the Dumbledore of the books (and that Richard Harris had in the first two movies) has. It wasn't really as noticeably bad as in the last movie and in a way I guess I've become resigned to it, but yeah. Not a fan.
And finally I'm not sure what to think about the ending. Maybe because I knew what was going to happen but Sirius' death didn't have quite the emotional impact I was expecting. The fight between Voldemort and Dumbledore was exciting but I was bit confused by the aftermath with Harry's mind being invaded by Voldemort. I don't remember that from the book at all. And I was also kind of confused by the fact that Harry actually heard the prophecy and actually handed it over to Lucius. Not at all like it happened in the book and I don't see how it really helped move the story along or shorten it or anything.
Hm, I know that sounds like a lot of things I didn't like. But honestly there's no point in going into these movies and expecting everything to be how you want it. Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favorite film by far, because I felt like it actually had some style, but I'd probably rank this film third, after the first one, followed by Goblet of Fire, and then Chamber of Secrets in last. (In case you're curious, my book rankings are 1. PoA, 2. SS, 3. HBP, 4. GoF and then OotP and CoS are tied for last for different reasons...OotP was the only book I actively disliked but CoS was was really forgettable.)
The final book comes out this Saturday, although there are already copies of it floating out there (silly online retailers). I'll probably be done reading it this weekend but to respect those who won't read it that fast or right away I will wait until probably next weekend to post a review and even then I'll try to lay off the spoilers.