[Movie Review] Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I saw it
– when: 11 Jul 2007
– why: I’m an avid Harry Potter reader. I’ve read the books and I’ve watched the films. 🙂

Synopsis:  As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It’s been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero’s non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief–or will it?
(from http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1808475612/details)

*** Warning: May contain spoilers ***

Thoughts / Review:
This is a much darker film than the rest of the Harry Potter film series. If you think the previous Goblet of Fire was dark, this one’s even more so. Harry’s older, stronger, and has more worries now that Voldemort has returned in the wizarding world and is gathering his dark forces. Intensity and tension starts immediately with the story kicking off where the Dementors are loose in the muggle world, sucking out the happiness from Harry and his cousin, Dudley.
 

New director on board the HP franchise, this time it’s David Yates. Naturally, there’s a difference in technical styles compared with the previous directors. I liked the dark feel of the film and how it was presented. I also liked the thing he did with the Daily Prophet newspapers featured in the scenes, showing a summary of what is happening around the wizarding community with the moving photos and flashing headlines as it slides from one paper to another, I thought that was a nice touch.

Naturally, as for all book-to-film adaptations, there were changes and tweaks with the adaptation of the story to the big screen. You’d note it right away from the start. I was kinda looking forward to the part where Lupin and company shows up in Privet Drive to pick up Harry on the way to Grimmauld. Unfortunately for me, they cut Lupin off from the scene and Moody took over that part. Tonks was there and Shacklebolt with a couple of wizards I can’t remember the names of and wasn’t introduced anyway. I think they had a bit of a hard time trying to condense book 5 into a 2-hour film.

I think the characters weren’t developed that well in the film. Although the prominent and essential scenes were included, much of the things going on wasn’t explained too well. I was quite satisfied with Luna even though it was a bit subdued, she was acting weird enough. ~Lol. Although Neville’s character was explored here, I think it wasn’t enough. However, hey did quite well with the Umbridge’s character. I so hated her in the book and in the film, you’d hate her even more. She was so annoying, bossy and nosy. I think the actress (Imelda Staunton) was perfect for Umbridge. The character development between Sirius and Harry was lacking in strength to see the closeness they’ve developed as a family. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange was a good choice, too bad Bella wasn’t featured that much and seemed to exist in the film solely for the purpose of the fight with Sirius. All you know is she’s evil and loyal to Voldemort and Neville hates her. She wasn’t explored too well that if you just watch the film, you won’t seem to be able to understand why she’s so despicable and wouldn’t feel too strongly against her like after when you read the book, and she’s overshadowed by the impact of Lucius Malfoy’s appearance. Oh, Kreacher was there but his appearance in the film wasn’t of too much importance as the role he played in the book. Oh, I hated him so much after I read it, but here he didn’t seem to serve any much purpose of appearing at all. So, yeah, generally, that’s my only complaint for the film… Character development wasn’t done too well, but that’s just my opinion. 😀

I really loved Hermione’s hair! Hehe. The highlights of her hair were really lovely that made me want to have hair styled and colored like that. It was one of the first things I noticed when Hermione appeared in the scene. Ahem, anyway, going back to the story, one of the parts I liked in the film that I can remember right now were the meetings conducted by Dumbledore’s Army and the part where Dumbledore evades Umbridge in his office when being confronted for Dumbledore’s army was also one of my favorite scenes. Dumbledore escaping with Fawkes and Shacklebolt commenting “He’s got style!” Lol. It was nice to see that on film. Amidst the story’s dark theme, there was enough light dialogue nicely and subtly inserted here and there, so you’d get to smile and laugh once in a while.

The last 20 minutes or so of the film was pretty awesome! The fight scene in the Ministry of Magic was the highlight for me. I liked that they interpreted the wand fights like sword fight, the moves were really cool to watch. Even though I was a bit disappointed that the fountain statues didn’t come to life, but the duel between Voldy and Dumbledore was really cool (for a moment, I was reminded a bit of Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf against the Balrog)

I read the book though, so I didn’t have any problem following the story. I’m not so sure if those who watched the film only (and hadn’t read the book) would completely understand what is going on for the lack of explanation, but I think they’d get the gist of it. I think the important elements of the story and the summary of the major events were presented properly.

TO WRAP IT UP… Despite my personal points of concern that I rambled about, overall, I still found the film quite entertaining. Don’t be put off by the darkness of the story,  I think it really is worth watching. 🙂

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