(Warning—if you have not read the books or seen the films, you may want to avoid the rest of this commentary as it contains “spoilers.”)
So many wonderful scenes were cut, as usual—Dumbledore’s chastising of the Dursleys (including Dudley’s hilarious kowtowing to Harry, who has saved his life); the presence of characters like Bill, Fleur, and others who make Rowling’s world so rich—as well as the lack of a strong presence of Lupin and Tonks, including their famous hospital scene and the reason for Tonks’s lackluster hairstyle; additional history regarding Voldemort (that adds a bit of sympathy for him, at least) removed; and the awesome battle near the end—including the courage of Hogwarts students (which always seems to be downplayed!) and the attack of Fenrir Grayback on Bill Weasley—isn’t even touched upon.
Like many fans, I was crushed when Dumbledore died in the book; and while his film death was indeed sad, it lacked the deep impact that book-Dumbledore’s death had. I think this was simply due to the fact that we’ve really never had an adequate portrayal of Albus in film—and now the movie-only fans who don’t read books (what a shame to be missing about half of the whole series!) will never truly know the twinkle-eyed, sweet-toothed fellow who so much enjoyed a good joke and true love.
And the fact that Harry was fully mobile and visible—rather than immobilized and invisible, as he was in the book—during Dumbledore’s murder is simply unconscionable. We all know that our favorite rule-defying hero would have saved his headmaster’s life if he could move, rules be damned.
Since the film also replaced Dumbledore’s exquisitely moving funeral—filled with wizards from everywhere, various creatures and even a poignant phoenix cry courtesy of Fawkes at one point—with a very dull scene of featuring students pointing their wands into the sky, it also left his death feeling even more hollow.
Overall the film had a few good effects, some added humor (and some needlessly added scenes, too), and a general flow with the others in the series that make it enjoyable enough to watch; but book fans should expect the cuts above, and more.