Non-spoiler review is pretty simple. Excellent technical production all around except for dialog audio, which was sometimes muffled and hard to pull out of the background music. Anything critical was repeated enough times that this was mostly not an issue. There were a handful of shots which were specifically made for 3D, and those popped a bit too much - the quality of the video in those improved so much over the rest of the film it was a little distracting, but also an "ooh, aah" moment. Most of the movie was shot for 2D, but the 3D enhancement was such that you could not watch without the glasses. I liked the way it looked.
There was some actual acting here and there. Alan Rickman had some extraordinary moments to counter his dull Snape-on-ludes scenes.Dame Maggie Smith is outstanding as Prof. McGonnagall. Michael Gambon had some interesting scenes as well, and as much as I admire his acting cred, it's a shame Richard Harris didn't live to finish the role. Warwick Davis as the goblin Griphook has a bright shining moment at the start of the film, but in the end is the victim of cliché scriptwriting and what happens to many directors when they try to do "poignant" in the middle of a pandemonium scene. Emma Watson (Hermoine) and Rupert Grint (Ron) both show a lot of promise, and Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood steals the show three different times. No such thing as small parts, etc.
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix phones it in for the most part, but the last 15 seconds we see of her is priceless. John Hurt as Ollivander also phones it in, but without any redemption later on.
Ralph Fiennes' Volemort suffers from poor writing and directing, ditto Daniel Radcliffe's Harry. We don't see enough of Ginny, but what we do see is Bonnie Wright appears to have put on some weight, and looks too mature for the part.
And now a word about Neville Longbottom. I loved what Rawlings and the script writers did with the part. Sadly, Matthew Lewis comes off as far too competent to play the bumbling Neville. He is no longer the squat, chubby-faced lad who lamely tags along. He's tall, and in great shape now, and played the part with way too much confidence. This is a rare case where they could have done with a change of actor.
I think I'll stop there - there were other instances of good (and awful) acting, but I think I've hit the highlights.
I won't say anything about the story or how true the movie was to it. The score is the expected rehash of the previous movies, and a lot of it is looping rather than actual music. It's not too annoying. The closing credits start with very cheap text on blank background, I bailed shortly after they started up, since I did not want to waste 10 minutes just in case there was an Easter egg.
Bottom line: worth matinee 3D and the online $1 ticket fee.
Next on the agenda was Costco, to pick up the 12x18s I'd ordered. Last night I mapped out three possible layouts for RenovationSF art show, and sadly I can only display 11 or 12 photos. It depends a lot on how many landscape and vs portrait I choose. 8x12s would have allowed close to twice that. Considering I have 43 valid candidates, 5 of which are costume portraits I have permission from the subjects to display. So I need to pare the remaining 38 down to 6. Boo hiss. I wonder if it is too late to buy another pair of panels. No, that would be overkill. Probably. Deadline was July 15 to reserve space.... I suppose it would not hurt to ask if there are panels left.
And the final project for the day was to find something to wrap Heidi's present. It was going to be in a padded envelope, but I wanted something birthday-ish around it. Office Max had a possible bigger envelope. CVS gave me too many choices: boxes, bags, paper, tissue paper. I selected a roll of wrapping paper and one of those annoying swirly ribbons (I like the traditional ones better but they had none). Home, had a snack in case the promise of lots of food at the party did not come about, wrapped the gift, grabbed the camera and my SJ Sharks jacket and headed out to HMB.
Half Moon Bay State Beach is lovely. Heidi had reserved a camp site (I will try to spend a weekend there soon) , but it only allows two cars, so the rest of us had to park half a mile away in the beach lot. I brought my camp chair, and my Sharks jacket which I never needed because the famous Half Moon Bay fog never made an appearance. I spent a lot of time talking with Heidi's dad, who was a photographer for a lot of his life, and I'm guessing he's about my age, though he looks much younger. Chatted with a lot of people, was surprised I did not know any of them, because most are theater people. But come to think of it, in the 20+ years I have known Heidi, we have never been in a show together. We've never auditioned for the same show either. Very odd, that.
They close the gates at sunset, and since there wasn't any real food at the party I bailed at about 8 and attempted to have dinner at a local Thai place called Bangkok House. It took a while to get a menu and order, food was delivered quickly. The fish cakes were over-cooked and the little sauce in the dish with cucumber, carrot and onion bits was something unidentifiable, and not Thai. It was watery red, maybe ketchup way watered down. They were served with a steak knife. Knives at the table are taboo in Thailand (no weapons at the table!), and fish cakes should be cuttable with a spoon.
BBQ pork ribs were served piping hot, again with a knife, and with a sauce dish which was billed as spicy lime. This is finger food, the knife was an insult. The sauce was inedible. Thai BBQ is done with sweet/hot sauce - usually watered down honey and chili pepper maybe with a touch of lime leaves, which are bitter. I took the ribs home, I'll make the right sauce for them and they should be fine.
The tip went down to 10% when it took 15 minutes for anyone to notice I was done eating.
At 8:50 (they close at 9) a family of East Indians, complete with infant in a car seat, Mom, Dad. brothers, sisters, grandma and grandpa barged in. The hostess tried to tell them they were closing, but they stood their ground, and the hostess asked the cook, who agreed to stay late. A good business move, maybe. It rubbed the curmudgeon in me the wrong way. I won't be going back there again.
By then it was 9, traffic over the hill was reasonable, and I was home in 35 minutes.
Party photos will be on Flickr Real Soon Now.