There were 21 of us in the end. Twenty-one people! Before the movie started, there was an advertisement for booking your own screening of the movie. We could almost have justified it. The Major Street household came to the showing after all. Several of the first year Centre MAs came. My advisor and his daughter were there, as was a friend from my department to whom I had made the promise that yes, it is possible to have a pleasant evening in a pub and not come out smelling of smoke afterwards. pittenweem and C. and Anna and Aleta, and Christopher and Saffy were there. Purely by accident, we even ended up sitting right next to Sara Jane, the woman I met at the costume party on Halloween and saw again the next day at the LOTR Q&A, along with her brother. Afterwards, 8 of us loitered around and went out for a pleasant evening of drinks at a pub, and indeed, did not smell of smoke afterwards; although the pub closed early when their computer system broke down on them.
The movie itself was fun. Given it was all of 2 hours and 40 minutes long, it held together well. I never once wondered how much longer it would be until the end of the film. Towards the end, many of the plot resolutions became a bit trite, however. The biggest example for me was when Harry is dying, with perhaps 20 seconds left to live, and is saying goodbye to Ginny. Then Fawkes comes along and saves his life. Harry tells him. "Thanks" and we go on to the next scene. "Thanks"? "Thanks"??? Harry, that doesn't begin to cut it. You can do better than that. The bird just saved your life.
The whomping willow was well done. The Tom Riddle sequences were abbreviated but effective. Of course I liked Fawkes. The sorting hat was only disappointing because it did absolutely nothing in its final scene. Perhaps it's hard work disgorging swords.
I read an article the other day by someone who obviously hadn't read the books who commented on how, after being revivied, Hermione ran to hug Harry but then didn't hug Ron, and interpreted this as clearly showing Hermione and Harry have mutual crushes, or something to that effect. Not only is that not how it's working in the books, that's definitely not how the scene worked in the movie. I thought they did it quite well: Harry and Hermione's unaffected friendship, and the beginnings of awkwardness between Ron and Hermione.
Kenneth Branaugh was really really good as Gilderoy Lockhart, and Gilderoy was very well done.