Okay, so now I've seen the new Harry Potter movie. Here's what I think:
It was pretty clearly tasked with advancing the plot to get to the end. It was much more concise; in "Goblet of Fire" as well as "Order of the Phoenix" I was beginning to notice what had been left out, much more so than in the first three. It was not my favorite of the movies because it's really the darkest, dealing with Harry's sense of alienation much more fully than in the past. And in this movie,the family that Harry hopes will come together (Sirius and Dumbledore in particular, and the Order by extension) lets him down in a variety of ways, from death to simply trying to shelter him for his own good. He's really coming into himself in this part of the narrative, recognized as an expert by his peers in Dumbledore's Army and also sort of growing into himself as a wizard, and yet he's still very much a boy in this one.
The genius of the series is that even the hero is not good all the time. Harry struggles with impulses that may or not be his own, as the evil Voldemort seems to have an uncanny mental connection with him. In a moment that I could already see on the wall at contemporary worship or in a youth group meeting, Harry confesses to Sirius that his first impulse was to lash out, and that he made a difficult decision to do the right thing. Paraphrasing Sirius' response: "We all have light and dark in us, Harry. What makes you good is not that you have no darkness, it's that you choose the light."
On to more worldly observations: the twins are starting to distinguish themselves; it's Fred I've really got the crush on. All the young actors are beginning to show their age; Harry looks 17 more than 14 in Order of the Phoenix, but it's not a real problem, although knowing that Daniel Radcliffe had done "Equus" made me more aware of how Harry was maturing (he's got muscles now). That's the inevitable challenge of doing a series like this: how to cast an ensemble to grow up together, and manage the fact that the narrative progresses more rapidly than the movies can be made.
The long and short of it is this: while this 5th installment is not my favorite, it's still pretty good. Taking the long view, it does well at advancing the story and bringing up new plotlines, although I'd like to have seen a little more about some of the peripheral relationships. I know that's coming in "Half-Blood Prince" next year, and we'll get to know more about Harry father and his friends. I'm dreading Dumbledore's fate and anxious to see Snape's true colors, whatever they should happen to be.
What I want to see resolved in "Deathly Hallows":
Snape either vindicated or revealed in all his evil glory
Harry and Ginny's relationship
Neville Longbottom's coming into his own
Are Sirius and Dumbledore really gone for good? It is, after all, a story about magic
How can the twins' "novelty" magic help the cause?
Can Voldemort really be vanquished?
What's Luna's rule in the story, and what about Moaning Myrtle--surely we'll see her again?
Will Harry have to somehow absorb some of Voldemort to get rid of him? Remember, the evil one used Harry's blood to take corporeal form again...so a part of Harry's in Voldemort. In order to resolve the story, might Harry not have to take to himself a part of You-Know-Who