I did not get to watch HBP at midnight the other night, but I did go to a sold-out showing of it last night. We settled down, watching the boring slides of random trivial information about different actors and some rather appealing up-and-coming feature films (Sherlock Holmes, Where the Wild Things Are). And then the movie began.
[[Spoilers Below, for anyone that doesn't know what's going to happen]]
Overall, I am very satisfied and pleased with the filmed adaptation of HBP. I'm not sure yet if it's my favorite movie from the series or not. I've heard a lot of people complaining that the movie left out too much stuff. That the movie would've been better if the ending hadn't been altered. But, frankly, I'm not so sure.
First off, all previous movies have left out quite a bit of stuff, too, so I was fully expecting the absence of things. Honestly, the story of the book takes hours and hours to get through, and by reading and digesting the words you feel a connection with the characters. On screen, you have a time limit in which your story must be told, else you lose the audience. And, unless you're writing in your journal, the audience is the whole purpose of writing anything, be it a novel, a play, a poem, a short story, a speech, or a movie script. I think HBP succeeded in taking the important elements from the book and portraying them on screen amazingly.
I really enjoyed the lighter tone this movie had. Goblet of Fire and the Order of the Phoenix were both terribly darker movies, with the rise of Voldermort and the chaos of the Death Eaters. To me, HBP still contained the dark and dangerous, as was evident in the security around Hogwarts, but at the same time it managed to find a light in the darkness. The teen hormones were played out, offering humor and relief to the audience. This inclusion makes this movie a great date movie, too.
Another exceptional piece I enjoyed was the actor's abilities to show their emotions. You could see the twisted hate/fear/deep-sadness/regret in Malfoy's face as he did as he was commanded. You could see the covert-but-obvious sideways looks of love from Hermione to Ron and from Harry to Ginny. You could see the determination in Dumbledore's face, and as he drank from the potion in the cave his acting was wonderful. And Snape has always been brilliant in commanding his emotions. Yes, the actor's performed well.
The only real disappointment I had from the movie was the ending. It doesn't bother me that the little skirmish didn't play out like it did in the book. What bothered me was that the movie failed to convey the deep sense of loss from losing one of the greatest wizards of all time. Dumbledore's death sent shockwaves through the literary world of Harry Potter, people unable to believe the beloved Headmaster was truly dead. Again, the book had pages devoted to this, while the movie did not include it.
I suppose it is like Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings. Leaving Shelob out of the Two Towers because he knew he'd put it in the Return of the King. I imagine the funeral of Dumbledore will still be held, but not until Deathly Hallows, Part 1. If you look at the series as one long time-line, then the director is still holding true (with some minor omits) to the story, though just choosing to save the funeral for the next film.
In conclusion, I was very impressed with the movie. For the past decade or so I've been a Harry Potter fan. I've loved the books. I've loved the movies. To me, the film version is never as good as the book, but that's to be expected. However, to really enjoy the movie (you hardcore HP fans) you have to be able to suspend your expectations, or lower them. Are you honestly expecting the movie to be better, or even as good, as the books? No. Be fair to yourself, to the actors, to the directors, to everyone involved: the movie was great.