Okay, so what did I like about the Harry Potter movies?  Some of the characters stand out as appealing to me.  There are times when I really enjoyed what was happening because it was portrayed well.

I like Snapes a great deal.  He strikes me as the most human of all the characters.  His bitterness is compelling all the more because its over a love lost to one’s tormentor.  Despite his obvious competence he wears a serious face to mask his insecurity.  He hides it well, but also seems to have a realistic fear of and appreciation for what Voldemort can do.

I continue to be impressed by Alan Rickman’s work as an actor.  His portrayal of Snapes never lets me think for a moment he is an actor playing a part.  His mere presence improves nearly every scene he appears in.  Easily, he’s consistently the best part of the movies.

I also like Hermione.  I’ve had my fill of overt, know-it-all female sidekicks, but somehow she works for me.  I totally buy that she’s a driven overachiever, attempting to live up to the pressures of being from a non-wizard family.  Despite her mask of self-control, she shows moments of vulnerability and insight.  Of Harry’s friends I feel she comes closest to being his equal in adventure.

The actress portrays her with a little less depth than I’d like, but still does a good job.  Better anyway, than a lot of the other actors around her phoning it in.  Harry always gets the attention and Ron is there for comic relief.  But I usually get the feeling that whatever Hermione is working on is based on her hard work.  Whether it’s saving the day with a little time travel or brewing a shapechange potion, when she gets to act with agency she does it nicely.  No fumbles there.

As far as scenes go, I think a few are done well enough to make me forget I’m watching a dysfunctional Hollywood movie.

I liked the scene where a torrent of letters come flying into the house to tell Harry his adventure has arrived.  I found that both hilarious and heart-warming.   It’s an affirmation that our destiny will drag us toward it willingly or not, and push anyone who stands in the way aside.

The scenes involving the cloak of invisibility tend to be pretty good.  Invisibility is an awesome power to have, and whenever Harry uses it I feel like he is being his own person.  There are so many people keeping secrets from Harry, not just enemies.  I like that he is able to turn the tables and get his own answers at times.

When Harry uses the Patronus charm to save his other timeline self and his godfather is pretty awesome.  He’s been practicing, facing his fears under the tutelage of probably the only competent Dark Arts tutor in the series.  Then when the time comes for him to be the great wizard (that is, embody the image everyone has of his father for once), he performs magnificently.

Come to think of it, the whole adventure where Harry and Hermione travel back in time to complete the timeline is pretty awesome.

The return of Voldemort just after Harry and Cedric win the tri-wizard cup is probably my favorite.  Cedric is killed almost immediately, showing us how stupid the cup challenge is as a measure of best wizard.  For once, Voldemort has the upper hand.  He achieves a major goal in getting a physical body again, punking out the so-called good guys and getting in some serious gloat while he’s at it.  He chitchats with his death-eater pals, showing us exactly how the other side interacts.

It was a mistake for him to let Harry go, given that Harry still had a really stupid Deus Ex Machina card to get him out of the jam.  But I can forgive Voldie for not having meta-story knowledge.  It’s still cool to watch Harry say, “fine, have it your way” and go out fighting.  Essentially tossing the expectations on his shoulders aside and accepting his death.

I was hoping he’d use the Patronus charm and catch everyone off-guard enough for him to escape (let that be a lesson to you Voldie!), which would make logical sense and rock the mike.  But the confusing and out of the blue save by the power of love ruins the scene, reducing it to just awesome.

Finally, even though it leads nowhere, I still liked Harry’s training of the students in the secret room.  Having fought and escaped the big dude baddie makes him somebody worth listening to.  And the dedication it takes to deceive the school authorities while teaching the students to fend for themselves is awesome.

The community rallies together in a sane and serious manner to prepare themselves for danger.  Plus the fact that the school reveals a hidden personality dedicated to just such a purpose is a nice touch.  It turns the school into something more than just an indoctrination center.

Basically I enjoyed scenes where I felt the characters had permission to matter.  That is, where they had agency enough to control their fates.  Too often I felt they were pulled around by circumstance and forced to react rather than act.  When they assumed control of their own lives, for good or ill, I was drawn in.