Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I went to see Order of the Phoenix tonight.
For some reason, the movie seemed grimmer to me than I remember the book being. Upon reflection, however, that isn’t the case. I had re-watched the fourth movie recently, and I think that’s where the impression comes from.
Overall, I enjoyed myself a great deal. However, the movie suffered from the same major flaws that all the other Potter movies suffer from, all of which boil down to trying to be too faithful to the books.
I understand and applaud J.K. Rowling’s vociferous defense of her work. But she needs to understand that there is a difference between movies and books and how you tell the stories. Certain plot elements and characters that work well or even perfectly in a book require excising in a movie. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.
For example: we didn’t need to be exposed to Hagrid’s stupid giant half-brother. It was a totally unnecessary experience, felt shoe-horned it, and, if shaved, would have left a more concise story.
Another flaw that comes from this is that the second half of the movies always feel rushed. Why? Because we must introduce everything and everyone in the first half of the story, which takes an hour and a half. And then we’re only left with a half an hour to close it all off, so we start trimming. Of course, if we didn’t have to include a retarded giant brother, we could make the transition smoother.
(An interesting point: Quidditch isn’t mentioned *at all* in the film. For something so important to Harry, you’d think they’d at least mention it.)
The characters were, as usual, very well realized. The big new one – Dolores Umbridge – was brilliantly evil. The cat plates on her walls are just plain excellent. I seem to remember that in the book she was portrayed as dressing in “institution” colors and the like, but making her all happy and pink and. . . evil . . . was just brilliant.
The media made a big deal out of Helena Bonham-Carter being cast as Bellatrix but she had a total of 4 lines and 5 minutes of screen time, tops. Snape at least had several more lines than in the previous couple films, but Malfoy was relegated to 3 lines and about 1.5 minutes of screen time (we had to show the retarded giant, remember?).
(Man. I really hate that giant.)
What else sticks out as good: the use of newspapers to move plot and provide cuts is excellent. The sets and costumes are great – just the art direction, in general. Making Dudley into a chav. The family tree wallpaper. Gary Oldman. Kreecher. Tonks. Several shots – including the opening one of the playground. Jason Isaacs just drips menace.
And holy shit: the wizard battles.
During the fight between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters, I leaned over to gnat23 and said, “man, how come they didn’t do a wizard duel like this between Saruman and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings?” (the fact that this epic fight between the two most powerful wizards happened off-screen has always irritated me).
I thought it was well done.
And then we got to the fight between Dumbledore and Voldemort. Holy crap. It was like, “oh, you thought we were going fast before? Harhahahah.” BAM. Might as well have been sitting still.
In conclusion, it came across like a series of well-executed vignettes – single scenes and sequences were individually *excellent* but the sinew that was supposed to tie them together wasn’t all there in places, OR body parts were missing entirely. So we end up with a kind of Franken-potter monster. Enjoyable, but because of its flaws is less compelling than that book.