“did i know that i just met the most dangerous dark wizard of all time? no.”

to be honest, i hadn’t seen a harry potter film that i liked.  they all just seemed to fall flat and not fully encompass the scope of the books.  this was the first film in the series that i can actually say i enjoyed.  it didn’t necessarily fully encompass the book, but was able to take liberties with certain aspects, add certain aspects, and remove the unnecessary ones.  david yates (the director) was able to place the film in a time that seemed relevant.  i felt the terror that the world has to be experiencing at this time.  dark forces are at work, people are scared, and i’m buying it.

one of my biggest problems so far with the series has been the performance of daniel radcliff.  he always seems to earnest, too much like he’s spot reading, too fake, and too stiff.  in this film however, he seems to find more of a groove.  i wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a great performance, but it’s adequate.  maybe it’s because he doesn’t seem to have a lot of lines, but yates seems to be able to reign him in a little.  on the flip side, there are some truly great performances in this film.  they were able to just sweep me into the magic of it all.

jim broadbent – professor slughorn

broadbent gives one of the surprise performances in the film.  in the book, professor slughorn was a very hot and cold character for me.  sometimes i really liked him, sometimes i thought he was a waste of a page.  but broadbent makes me love him.  broadbent adds something to the character that i think the book was missing.  he adds heart, or humor, or maybe just a face, i don’t know.  whatever it is, he took a character from a book and really built upon it.  he was able to infuse something else that took the performance over the top for me.

michael gambon – professor dumbledore

i’ve never really liked gambon in any of the potter films.  the original dumbledore (richard harris) was made for that role.  that man just brought a level of gravitas that gambon just doesn’t (or didn’t have).  however, in this film, gambon brought it.  he brought it so hard that i was scared for fragile little daniel radcliff.  i thought he might shatter.  maybe it was the source material, but gambon just seemed to take the role to another dimension.  he added a dark side to it.  he made me scared just to look at him….and that’s just fun.

alan rickman – professor snape

rickman’s performance has always been a little one-note for me.  that being said, knowing what is going to happen in the rest of the films now (i finished the final 3 books in the last 6 months or so) seeing the subtext in his performance in this film was phenomenal.  i cannot wait to see what he will do in the final two films (based off one book…which might actually be a great idea).

helena bonham carter – bellatrix lestrange

she just scares the crap out of me.

tom felton – draco malfoy

this was were the money was at.  felton was absolutely great.  he was able to give the dual sides of malfoy so much life in this film.  he is able to give light to all the parts of the character i love.  he’s conflicted, he’s heartbreaking, he’s sad, he’s pitiful, he’s pushed beyond his years, he’s an actor i now am furiously excited to see what he does next.

there is a shot in the film where malfoy has to go out on his mission and he walks down the hallways of hogwarts.  at the same time in the shadows of the corridors we can see fellow wizarding students making out in the hallways.  the contrast of this shot and the beautiful way it was filmed had me almost jumping out of my seat with excitement.

this film left me the most excited to re-watch it of any film i’ve seen this year (including up).  that being said, it’s not my favorite film of the year, and has a lot of problems.  somethings i wanted to see explored at greater length, somethings i felt could be cut a little.  i wish the film could have actually been a couple hours longer.  maybe they should have split the last two books into 4 or 5 films.