It's kind of hard to review a book when you're not finished it yet, but since I'm trying to judge the movies as adaptations, I figured it would be best to split the posts up. I remember feeling on the edge of my seat for most of my first read through, and that's definitely not happening here. I guess knowing already who lives and who doesn't can do that to you. That's not to say the book is badly paced or lacking in action - I did just happen to feel like Harry, Hermione, and Ron agonizing over how to find the horcruxes did go on a bit though. Not to mention the "Was Dumbledore a bad guy?" angle here on display. Suffice to say that if you attempted to cut the book right here, you would feel incredibly cheated. But how about the film?
It's pacing does feel a bit uneven to me. While things do move along quicker in the movie than they do in the book, I still can't help but feel like the middle is just a lot of camping with stuff happening before and after. It is, at least, a decent spot to stop the action on, allowing there to be enough build up and action in the second film, and basically making this film about being on a journey whereas part 2 is primarily all about the final battles.
As far as changes, there really aren't very many. I noticed that a lot of the lines are taken directly out of the book. We're back to how it was with the Sorcerer's Stone, where changes are only made to move things along or amp up the action. The beginning scene is really well done, and watching Hermione erase her parents' memories is really heartbreaking. I would have liked to have seen the moment between Dudley and Harry here, but given how little we've seen of the Dursleys over the last few films, it would be pretty out of place to those who only watched the movies.
I do wonder how confusing it must be for a film only viewer, the way they sort of dump all the information on us. Here's Bill, he got attacked by a werewolf before. You remember Fleur, don't you? Oh yeah, by the way, Remus and Tonks are married now and here's a slight little clue that she's pregnant. This guy's name is Mundungus, you haven't seen him before but he's about to be fairly important in the next 20 minutes. And that's all in just one scene! I do think they handled it as best as they could though.
The whole book is full of deaths and serious injuries, so it's kind of hard to avoid spoilers, but I'm trying to keep my promise until the very end.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who is more upset about Hedwig's death than Mad Eye. I think a large part of the problem is that when we get to know Mad Eye, he's actually Barty Crouch Jr., and from there forward he's just a paranoid protector escorting Harry to and fro. Hedwig, on the other hand, has been with us from the beginning and I think Rowling did a great job of giving her personality. Hedwig's death differs in the film and the book, and I can't entirely decide which is better. In the book it serves as our first real WTF?! moment and makes it clear to us that all bets are off when it comes to who will live or die. In the movie she had been set free, and could have sailed off peacefully to meet up with them later, but yet she clearly loves Harry and wants to protect him. It also serves to make Harry a little smarter, as in the book it is his use of Expelliarmus that gives him away, and really that is a stupid move on his part.
Inserting Dobby into the scene where Kreacher retrieves Mundungus makes sense, because film viewers haven't seen him at all since the Chamber of Secrets, and it functions as a nice reminder of who he is before his big final moment at the end. As I said in my Chamber of Secrets review, I didn't really like Dobby. So imagine my surprise that when I read this book the first time, I was crying so hard for him. Even on the second reading, I got a bit misty eyed. It is so much worse in the film for me. I sobbed for him when I saw it in the theaters the first time, and I wasn't much better on my second viewing last night. It's so well done, I think you have to be a pretty stoic person not to.
Wormtail doesn't get his end in the film, but I think that was probably a rating issue. Seeing a man strangled by his own silver hand would be pretty gruesome. The timing of Voldemort gaining the elder wand is also a little off, but it makes perfect sense why they rearrange it here. The end result is still that he gets to it before Harry can do anything about it, so that's really all that matters.
Less than a month to go before Deathly Hallows Part 2 is released on DVD/Blu ray, and I think I'm going to make it! Actually, at the rate I've been reading it is entirely possible that I may finish before it's out, and I'm going to have to do my best to keep everything fresh in my head so I don't forget what's changed and what's not. Deathly Hallows the book really is a quick, easy read, and not just because it is shorter that the few preceding books.