Entry: "Potter" a winner Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter set a five-day non-holiday week total at over $140 million.

Yeah, so the marketing worked.  Was the movie any good?

We went to see it as a family.  Frankly, I loved it.

The acting was stronger in this one than perhaps any other one.  Umbridge and Luna Lovegood were especially strong newcomers to this chapter.  I somehow knew Helena Bonham Carter would eventually get a role in the "Potter" films, and sure enough, here she is, and well done.

Many of the returners are especially strong, too.  Alan Rickman is riveting as Snape--probably his finest in the series, and I love him every time out.  Emma Thompson plays her hippie/addleminded Divination teacher role and really pulls some good emotion out of the audience.

Slightly disappointing was Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, but then he doesn't have much to do except attack, attack, attack.  Plus, it's a little like "Jaws 2":  once you've seen the shark, it isn't as scary.  He didn't do anything wrong, but he really didn't find much special to do with the material either.  Hopefully he'll get a stronger chance with the final two movies.  (There's a reason Voldemort is backgrounded in this outing, but I'd rather not delve too deeply into it, lest I provide too big a spoiler.)

And the acting of the kids were particularly strong, as well.  The three main kids have really settled into their roles, and we get strong outings from Neville Longbottom among others as well.

If you have any interest in the history of the rise of Nazi Germany or other fascist regimes, you'll definitely enjoy the theme of how new, Ministry of Magic-approved teacher Dolores Umbridge worms her way through the school's corridors of power.

For whatever reason--the stronger-than-ever acting, solid direction, the themes of loss and frustration--I found myself emotionally involved with the characters more than in any other outing.

So far, this is my favorite "Harry Potter" movie.



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