I read the book series and watched the movies just in the last couple of months while recovering from brain surgery and then having a second surgery the week after DH2 came out in the theaters. Normally, I read non-fiction. My DD is a huge bookworm/sensitive type and our HP book set was actually a gift from me to DH awhile back. DD finally dug into it though and I wanted something I could relate to her through while I was laid up. Since I read and watched everything in the space of only a few months, I may get some titles and scenes mixed up. I didn't really have any breaks between books or movies.
I was so surprised at the effect the books had on me and how completely I was taken in by JKR. I had seen the first two movies on the big screen when they first came out but didn't get into them at that time. Since I had recently read each book before viewing the films on DVD, I found some of the films excruciating to watch due to the disparities. I guess I am a purist. After each DVD, I ranted about everything that differed from the book.
The movie I thought was really well-done was "Order of the Phoenix." And I hated reading that book. I noticed a PP said she felt depressed after seeing it at the theater. Well, I was quite depressed after reading the book. I empathized so much with Harry in regards to my surgical healing that I sometimes felt like I was going through a parallel version of what he was going through: the scar on his head hurt - so did mine, he had no information for so long - neither did I. And then she brought in Umbridge - ack! I almost found it unbearable. She was so horrible to read and Harry and the rest were rendered so powerless; I thought JKR really made the reader empathize with her protagonists. (Of course, this could be colored somewhat by what I was going through at the time. Did other people feel intense frustration while reading this book - esp. the part in the beginning at 4 Privet Drive and with Umbridge and the whole creepy stuff with the gov't take-over?)
But in the OoTP film, I really liked the way the director used lighting. Everything was framed in darkness and then the most irritating, nasty character was rendered in bright pinks with the lighting focused on her. I was very impressed with this and thought it really brought the feeling of the book to life. (Yes, the pink part was in the book, but I thought the lighting was excellent punctuation.) One of the other movies I enjoyed was the first one, though the kids' acting was annoying - especially Daniel Radcliffe's. At the end of the first movie, even my 8-year old DD said she thought his smile looked cheesy. I do feel like Radcliffe's acting improved immensely by the DH movies though, and I have to wonder if it's from his work on the stage.
I've been impressed with Rupert Grint's acting of Ron from the beginning of the series. I'd like to see what he ends up working on next. I did think that Gambon's later interpretation of Dumbledore was much better. When he replaced the other actor, I found it very frustrating and distracting, like viewing a stranger because the first Dumbledore seemed so perfect.
I did appreciate how much political commentary JKR put into these books and I was very disappointed about how many of the films left out what I considered important themes.
As for the Deathly Hallows: I watched Part 1 on DVD on a very small screen. DH watched it with me and he never read the final book and he was completely confused about what was going on. The dancing scene with Harry and Hermione was interesting and kind of sweet but odd. I can't remember now if they did anything much with Kreacher and how his relationship with the kids changed while they were hiding out in Sirius's old house. Probably not since they completely removed the house-elves from the previous movie where they played a key part in the whole mystery. (That really ticked me off.)
I will have to re-watch DH1 to be able to comment much on it. However, one part that did really bug me in DH1 was how Wormtail died. I thought the book said so much about Voldemort by having Wormtail die from being strangled by his own restored metal hand (earlier bestowed by V) just because Wormtail hesitated with a moment's compassion. I don't know why they could not have added that to the movie. I also wish could have better conveyed how Harry had chosen to physically dig Dobby's grave by hand rather than using magic. Not sure how they would have done this though.
My DH and I went to see DH2 in the theater 2 days before I had my second surgery. I felt very urgent about seeing it before the surgery because my eyesight was very strained due to the growth of the lesion in my head and I was not sure what would happen to my vision afterward. (I am afraid I cannot separate the HP stories from my own experience because I've been using them to help me deal with what has happened to me. Since no one was able to identify what the lesion was, we decided to call it Voldemort. I chose this because like Voldemort, the lesion was reported to be gray and I assumed it was ugly and had bad intentions - it was definitely hurting / threatening me. And it came back after they removed most of it the first time. Since I knew Voldemort died for good in the end of the series, I felt it was a good name for my unidentified mass.)
As for the movie, we ended up sitting in the back row on a Tuesday night at 9:00. Not many people were there at first, but by the time the film started it was reasonably filled up. The crowd was fairly emotional and there was quite a lot of crying and cheering at certain parts.
I agree with many of the PP's about their thoughts on HP2. I plan to go see it a second time with some friends once I am able to get out and about again.
I was most anticipating seeing the scene of Snape's death because he is my favorite character in the books and I think Alan Rickman is an amazing actor. I found it visually and poetically beautiful that they used his tears in the movie, although it bugged me that it didn't make sense with how the memories are usually retrieved and how the Pensieve is usually used. I was glad that they were able to convey the violence of Snape's death without being too gross.
In the book, Snape tells Harry "Look at me" during this scene. I've seen much speculation as to why he says this, and it seems like the film makers used the interpretation of Snape finally seeing Lily's eyes in Harry's. I thought this worked well in the film. The memories and flashbacks were OK though I thought they could have done a touch better.
I thought the line where Dumbledore talks to Snape about hiding the best of him would have been much more effective if they'd shown Snape's face and his reaction, rather than cutting to a long shot during that line. I found that a bit distracting and in the book, I thought that was a very important point about SS's character. And there is the whole list of things that were inconsistent with how the Pensieve works. I also found it distracting that Snape as a young boy looked too much like Christina Ricci's portrayal of Wednesday Addams in "The Addams Family" movies. My DH thought the same thing. As for pronunciation of "pensieve", I have been trying to figure out how to say that word since I started reading the books - lol. The way Rickman delivered it was fine with me.
I didn't like the way they didn't explain Harry's sacrifice at the end and how his love protected everyone from Voldemort. I also was bothered by the final blow to Voldemort coming from Neville's destruction of Nagini rather than V's own curse bouncing back off Harry. I am glad that Neville came into his own, but I liked how it happened in the book better. I was waiting for Harry's monologue toward V and it never came.
But I did think the movie was very exciting, visually stunning and I love the costumes. Also really liked Flitwick and McGonagall putting up spells of protection. And I felt very sad for Snape when he was first shown at Hogwarts looking out the window at what looks like a WWII military assembly because I don't think he ever wanted that. I don't think someone who'd never read the book would see it the same way, but he looked regretful to me because of how entangled he got himself into the whole mess from the actions of his younger days. I felt really sad that he never was freed from his past before he died. I really wanted him to get a second chance.