a little east of reality

Monday, July 16, 2007

movie review: hp & the order of the phoenix

I don’t think this review contains any spoilers. Of course most people will be seeing the movie already having read the book, but I also didn’t want to spoil any cool movie surprises. I may edit this post after I see the movie again on the weekend.

For me watching Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix was kind of like watching Lord of the Rings. Whenever something I really wanted to see wasn’t there, I had to remind myself that the book is just too, too long for everything in it to make it to the screen and then add that moment to my “hope it’s in the deleted scenes” list. I would have liked more of almost everything we got…Tonks and the rest of the Order, the deepening of the relationship between the main characters as they become older and more complex people, the memories of Severus Snape and Harry’s realisation through viewing them that his father had done some disturbing things when he was young that pointed to a reckless and not always compassionate nature.

I also would have loved to see more of Lupin, who is my favourite character. David Thewlis plays him so perfectly that he’s one of the few people I’ve ever wanted to write a fan letter to. Anyway, my conclusion was that although the film felt a little choppy to me, it was only because just when I was starting to enjoy some part of it they would move on to the next. But in reality the editing aspect, and the task of turning way too much story into less than three hours of film, was very well handled.

There were also things I would have found powerful to see on screen, but which would have been too scary for the younger part of their target audience. For example, I have always wanted to see the part where Mrs Weasley tries to deal with a Boggart by herself and ends up seeing her greatest fear – the members of her family being killed one after the other. I think that scene shows the depth of her commitment to the Order – it is her greatest fear, but she doesn’t want to run, she wants to fight. Visually however, it would be a pretty harrowing scene for younger fans. And it’s superfluous plotwise, so it’s out. That's film-making. Fair enough.

Things I liked and thought were well done:
George & Fred’s departure (though I’d hoped they’d include the swamp they created on the third floor), the DA training sessions (and Filch), all the stuff that takes place in the hall of prophecies and after (including some very cool fight scenes) and definitely Delores Umbridge. In the posters I didn’t think she looked toady or evil enough, but in the cinema I was just itching to smack her one for most of the film ~ which means she was being played perfectly, saccharine sweet while delivering the nastiest pronouncements and most cruel of punishments. E.v.i.l. The kittens on her walls made me laugh out loud, as did Luna Lovegood who, just as in the book, manages to be both a little vague, random, and yet lovely. The thestrals were awesome. That kiss...was it a magical movie kiss? No. Was it the first kiss of two nervous fifteen-year-olds? Yes, it was.

Things I didn’t like: Mrs Weasley in this one seemed almost like a characature of herself ~ too much of what used to be a good portrayal. Michael Gambon gives more energy to the character of Dumbledore than Richard Harris did, but somehow to me he always seems also a little clumsier of movement (and it shows in this movie when he fights) and even in scenes where the story would benefit from it, he never shows that wonderful calm assurance that Dumbledore exuded in the first two films. If he screws up the incredibly important scenes he is going to have in the sixth film, I’m sending him a howler.

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