That's it. Good.
A little disappointing, really. I wanted to be blown away for 2 and 1/2 hours, and I was only really impressed for about 28 minutes total.
The visual effects were stunning. The casting -- and acting -- were almost perfect. During the Quidditch match, I had the disconcerting feeling of having my imagination ripped out of my head and smeared across a movie screen - that was pretty damn cool. The script followed the book story quite well.
And that last bit was the main problem. The director didn't use he movie to tell the story. Instead, he illustrated it. I spent most of my time in the theatre hoping that very few people saw this movie in lieu of reading the books, because those people just weren't going to get it.
The books illustrate the dramatic, horrible, fascinating life of a boy's journey from the hell of the Dursleys to heaven, or Hogwarts. The movie sort of trails alongside that story, without actually evoking anything from the audience's emotional reserves.
There was no heart to the movie. Think about the depths the book made its millions of readers feel... This poor Potter orphan had his parents brutally murdered, then was forced to live with a disgusting, selfish family who lied to him about what happened to his dead family. That's just about the saddest thing ever. And Rowling made millions of people love Harry like a best friend for the way he survived.
But in the movie, the Dursleys were a group of clowns for the audience to laugh at. Instead of being cold, cruel excuses for adoptive parents, they were stupid and lazy and funny-looking. During the scene where Hagrid retrieves Harry from the island and the Dursleys, more than anything, I wanted Hagrid to rip the aunt and uncle a new one. I wanted the gentle giant to spit venom in their direction, on behalf of Harry Potter The Victim and in honor of Harry's noble, dead parents.
Instead, Harry squeaked, "You never told me they were killed?" and in the interest of time, it was off to the next scene.
When Harry boarded the train, pulled away from the station, and therefore escaped the clutches of the the Dursleys, I should have been elated for the freedom the poor kid had earned after enduring years of cruelty from his surrogate family. Instead, I was mildly interested in what the inside of the train looked like, and curious about what Hogwarts would hold.
And so on. Through the whole movie, I wanted to feel. I wanted Harry's plight and subsequent adventures to touch me, to suck me into the story and take me along for the ride. I wanted to hate and fear Snape. I wanted to be terrified of Voldemort. I wanted to be touched by the way Hagrid automatically loves Harry, reunited after dropping the boy off on a doorstep eleven years before.
But instead, I spent the time being rapidly steered through the bare minimum the director provided - enough that even if a non-reader didn't understand the movie, he or she understood enough that it would be easy to approach someone who had read Rowling's novels and ask a question.
The effects were outstanding. The movie... eh. No heart, no emotion, no love. Just a story, laid out like a map setting the course for the sequels.