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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

07/13/07

Permalink 12:37:11 am, by millercommamatt, 772 words   English (US)
Categories: Harry Potter

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The movie portrayal of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was exactly what I expected it to be given the earlier films in the series. As the books become longer and the plots more complex, the medium of film, especially with the unwillingness of the movie production studios to expand the running times, becomes unable to portray the true depth of the Harry Potter story and the movies themselves become something akin to a visual “Cliff’s Notes” supplement to the books. Because of this, I would advise anyone who has not read the Order of the Phoenix book, even if they have seen the previous films, not to see the Order of the Phoenix movie. The Order of the Phoenix film is disjointed and incapable of conveying the depth of the plot unless the viewer is already aware of it from having read the book. If you haven't read the book, prepare to be lost.

Follow up:

Visually, the film is stunning. The visual effects for the fight sequences are exciting and truly unique. The camera work, combined with the editing, is very well done. From a technical aspect, the film is great.

The portrayal of the film's characters is hit-or-miss most of the time. Daniel Radcliffe, as Harry Potter, is brilliant in some scenes and middling in others. Emma Watson, as Hermione portrays her character well and any flaws I’ll attribute to the writing more that any lack of her abilities as an actress. Rupert Grint, as Ron, does a very good job considering what the writers give him. At least in this movie the writer(s) decided to make him something other than Harry’s idiot sidekick. Evanna Lynch makes a very good début as Luna Lovegood. Evanna has the looks and mannerisms of Luna down wonderfully. However, while after much debate I can’t identify the exact problem, the delivery of her dialogue is off. Nevertheless, I think she’s very good. Helena Bonham Carter makes for a wonderful Bellatrix Lestrange. I have no complaints on that front.

My biggest complaint with the Harry Potter films has always been with the portrayal of certain scenes, characters, and events where, for whatever reason, things were changed away from what the books have quite well. For example, in the Goblet of Fire film, the first task was changed from a very exciting cat-and-mouse game between Harry and the dragon to this ridiculous chase sequence where Harry and the dragon fly off and the entire audience just sits there and twiddles their thumbs wondering where Harry went and rather or not the dragon will eat him.

Gripe number one with Order of the Phoenix centers around Dolores Umbridge. I like how they portrayed her girlish nature with her evil, slightly psychotic, undercurrents. The big thing the movie makers miss is her almost phobic relationship with magic and her incompetence with her role. Frequently in the films, she performs rather deft acts of magic where her book counterpart would have been either unwilling or unable to do so.

Gripe number two is the fight sequences. While they are visually stunning, they are lacking in substance and they ignore the source material almost entirely. While rushing around as a wisp of smoke looks really cool, it has no basis in the books and often turns magical duels into some kind of race scene between shadowy blobs. I feel the fights could just have been done better. I've always imagined a magical fight to be more akin to martial arts than a race between wisps.

A few of my favorite scenes from Order of the Phoenix the book were left out like Harry’s Defense Against the Dark Arts practical. I would have also liked to see a bigger portrayal of the friction between Umbridge and the rest of the school faculty. I think that would have made for a more dramatic buildup to the Weasley Twins’ escape scene.

Like I said, this film is exactly what I was expecting and I didn't have very high expectations. Read the book, see the movie, but be aware of what you’re going to see. Order of the Phoenix the film isn’t for people who haven’t read the book and it’s not for people who get caught up on details and will be bothered when things in the movies don’t happen like they do in the book. Maybe the films should be re-titled: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – An Executive Summary... inspired by (not based on) J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

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