Spoiler Warning: This entry is about the final Harry Potter movie. It reveals secrets about the movie and the books. However, if you have already read the books, you know what happened. And if you haven't read the books, I don't really see how you'll be able to follow the movie anyway.
I met some girls who proudly stated that they had seen every Harry Potter movie at a midnight showing at the IMAX. I didn't realize that such a thing was possible. I've only seen two IMAX movies, both documentaries. One was about fossils of ancient sea creatures found in Kansas. The other one was in high school, and I don't remember what it was about, but I do remember being called out for talking during the movie. If the person had just listened, I'm sure they would have found my commentary very amusing. But I guess some people like to watch the movie or something.
So I decided that I might as well see one of these newfangled 3D movies, and since I wanted to see the last Harry Potter movie anyway, it looked like a two birds and one stone situation. The IMAX theater in Raleigh is part of the children's museum. When you buy a movie ticket for $11.95, you can pay an extra dollar to get into the museum. I guess they know where the money is.
My previous experience with the IMAX theatre taught me that I wanted to get there a bit early to get good seats. If you have to sit at the very front, then your neck gets cramped trying to look at the giant screen. So we showed up fifteen minutes before the show was supposed to start, our internet tickets safely in my purse (next to the grocery store Milk Duds and Raisinets). There was no one waiting outside, and I felt maybe that paying the convenience fee to buy tickets online was wasted. But then we got inside and saw the line to get into the theatre. Neck cramps, here I come.
There was a lot of smart marketing for the Harry Potter dorks inside. The elevator was labelled the "Floo Network," and a subway baggage cart was sticking halfway out of a wall, as if it were on its way to platform 9 3/4. I didn't see any costumes, though a couple of people had wands with lit tips.
The doors opened, and we were allowed into the theatre to take our seats in the neck cramp section. An usher passed out 3D glasses, green and blue pairs. She handed me a blue pair, saying that they would fit right over my prescription glasses. I felt pretty old at that moment. Just because they are prescription glasses doesn't mean that I like young whippersnapper ushers calling them that. My vision is not that bad, so I experimented with watching the screen with just the 3D glasses. Kinda blurry.
There were previews. In between the second and third preview, we were instructed to put on our 3D glasses. Thus began my first ever IMAX 3D experience.
3D is cool when it works and annoying otherwise. There were certain parts where it was fantastic - the whole Gringotts sequence and the fire in the Room of Requirement in particular. It really does seem like the action is coming towards you - not just the audience, but YOU. It is sort of an individual experience that way, even if you logically realize that the other audience members are perceiving it as coming towards them. And any scene where there are lots of little floating objects (snow, paper, essence of Voldemort) works really well with the medium. However, the problem is that there is really only one thing you can focus on. You have to be looking directly at something for the 3D to work right, which means that everything in the periphery is just blurry, as if I had taken my prescription glasses off. Also, it's really hard to wipe your eyes when you're wearing two pairs of glasses (and if you don't tear up a little at the death of a Weasley, then I guess you're just made of stone).
As for the movie itself, it was fine. As usual, I was annoyed at the little things they changed for what seems like no reason. But then again, I don't know anything about turning books into movies, and the fact that very few people seem to be able to do it well indicates that it's probably hard. I was very irritated at Dumbledore's dialogue in King's Cross station, just because it was out of character. Also, it took too long to kill the snake. Even if it was a magical snake, I have a hard time believing that Hermione could not have finished it off sooner, though I am glad they respected who actually killed the snake in the book.
And I guess that's about all you can ask for. There are going to be changes when going from book to movie, and the best you can hope is that the movie is true to the spirit. And it mostly was, even if I got sick of people saying that dead loved ones live on inside our hearts.
In the end, the Harry Potter IMAX 3D experience hurt my neck and gave me a headache. It was really expensive, but it was a fun thing to experience once. I don't think 3D is worth it at this point. It's cool, but I left feeling like I didn't really see the movie, which means I'll be seeing it again at the $1.50 theater in a few months. I'd like to see a movie that was designed to exploit the 3D medium the whole way through, rather than a regular movie that has certain scenes that look good.
Make it shorter than 2 hours, though. Those glasses give me a headache.