I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. Never wanted to. I don't have any problem with people who do enjoy them, and it's not like I'm an anti-reader or anything (I hope you all know me better than that), but I just never thought that they were for me.
I have been following the movie series, however. I feel that not having read the books gives me an interesting perspective to discuss the films with those who have. I'll start off with a brief recap of my opinions of the movies to date. The Sorcerer's Stone, I enjoyed up until the bullshit ending which still pisses me off to this day (which I really don't want to go into here). The Chamber of Secrets has what I feel is the best story and structure, a good little mystery that does a good job of building the lore of Hogwarts but not getting bogged down in it. The Prisoner of Azkaban is the best film of the bunch. It is the best directed, and the best acted. I flip-flop between it and Chamber as to which is my favorite. And then there is the Goblet of Fire, which I thought was pretty crappy (see my review
). I recently caught most of it on HBO one night, and still feel pretty much the same, that it it feels like a Reader's Digest condensed version of the book dramatized on film. So little time was spent developing characters that when things happened, when people died, they just carried no weight. It seemed like they were supposed to remind you of how you felt when that happened in the book. Which I (and many others) had never read. Whenever I say something like this, people always respond "Well just read the book," to which I have to respond, why even make the movie if it's not going to stand on its own?
So that was a really long prelude to my mentioning that I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night. While I do feel that it has some of the same problems that Goblet of Fire did, I liked this one better. It felt leaner; the direction, acting and special effects were much improved; and the overall series story took some interesting twists. On the negative, however, I felt that just like in Goblet, there wasn't enough character development. After being introduced in such great fashion in Azkaban, Sirius Black was almost completely ignored in Goblet and wasn't given enough growth in this one, especially considering the role he played in the climax. Harry Potter's girlfriend Cho was completely forgotten about halfway through the movie. A new character, Luna, I found very interesting, but didn't have nearly enough screen time to really flesh her out as a character. Even Ron and Hermione didn't have very much to do other than encourage Harry.
Still, on the whole, I enjoyed it. They did a better job this time out of hiding the fact that plotlines and characters from the book were omitted (I didn't notice any, as I could with Goblet). The direction and acting was good (although not as good as Azkaban). And the special effects (which I criticized in Goblet) were fantastic. I'd be willing to see it again if anyone wants to go watch it in IMAX-3D.
And, most importantly, I'm excited about the series again. When my friends asked if I wanted to come see Harry Potter last night, I initially waffled based on how disappointed I was with Goblet. But, while it certainly wasn't perfect, I'm glad that I went.