Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Order of the Phoenix Movie Review

Okay, let's start out with the most surprising detail before we get to the main text of the review: Voldemort looks quite cutting in the black suit, shirt, tie combination. I'm dead serious. He has a damn good tailor, whoever he is.

The movie itself was satisfactory, if not outstanding. The Order of the Phoenix was one of the two weakest books (along with Chamber of Secrets), and if anything it seemed like an even worse candidate for film adaptation. But, perhaps recognizing their constraints, it actually came to life about as well as could be expected. As usual with the HP flicks, people without a background in the series (i.e., at least having watched the other movies) will be completely lost, but these movies were always made under the assumption that its viewers were fans already. Within that framework, the movie rolls along, doesn't go for too much, and most importantly, doesn't focus on the parts of the book that would spell disaster for its cast (in other words, it didn't make Daniel Radcliffe act).

One of the movie's better lines is when Hermione Granger tells Ron that he has "the emotional range of a teaspoon," but honestly, that line would have better been spoken to Mr. Potter. Daniel Radcliffe has always been limited by the fact that he can't express more than one emotion, and this script must have taken that into account. In the early movies, the magic emotion was "surprise." In this movie, surprise is out, and glowering is in. Boy, can Radcliffe glower. And to be fair, glaring and steaming and smoldering is how Harry spends most of Book Five, which is one of the reasons it aggravated me so much. Mercifully, the movie's producers decided not to focus on that theme of the book, and so for most of the movie Harry is rather expressionless. Which is where he is at his best. Aside from that, little of the acting was worth note. The other main characters manage to hold themselves reasonably well. Dolores Umbridge was, in my view, overplayed, but my brother said she hit the target dead on. Luna Lovegood flirted with being really well done, but was a bit too affected even for such an outlandish character.

Shorter than its predecessors, the movie still has pacing problems, tending to drag when the producers get CGI-happy. The reverse problem, of course, is that the movie feels perpetually rushed--the product of cramming a book the size of Order into a watchable movie. Major plot events occur in a single scene, without expounding, lending the whole show a "blink and it's gone" feeling. Prioritization would have helped here--there were a lot of areas that got short-changed, and a few that could have donated some precious minutes. The time spent showing Harry training his DAers, especially, could have been shaved and redirected to prevent the movie from being spread so thin. The final battle in the Ministry of Magic got the right amount of time and rang reasonably true (Bellatrix Lestrange was played beautifully, by the way), so kudos there. However, as it went on, it began to over-reach itself. Too many flashing lights, too much wanton destruction, even the summoning of a monster. It felt like it was cribbed from a Dragon Ball Z cartoon, or a Final Fantasy "limit break" animation. If, after defeating Voldemort, the soundtrack had broken out into FF's "victory" theme (da-da-da-daaa-da-daa-da-daa-daaa!), I wouldn't have been the least surprised. This shouldn't happen.

All in all, it was a fine movie, worth seeing, but nothing ground-breaking or earth-shattering. Given how weak the movie series started, I'd be quite pleased if it managed to find its niche as solid but unremarkable, as it seems significantly more possible for the movies to get worse, then to get better.



Anonymous said...

the movie is good... but poor book adaptation... i

prefer the past director who have done a good job

(although there's a lot of cut)on the previous harry

potter movies..
im with my boyfriend when we watch the movie and he was

so disappointed of many changes that the new director's

did.. and for sure to others who have watched the movie

(esp. harry potter fanatics) probably felt disappointed

too... Sigh*

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the movie, BUT I would have preferred to have them make the movie longer and follow the book more closely. Don't get me wrong, the movie was enjoyable and I can't fault the actors. I think the director is to blame for this. The movie got the "gist" of the book, but I would have enjoyed the movie SO MUCH MORE if he had stuck to the book and fleshed it out with more detail instead of making it seem like a story outline.
1) Neville did not discover the Room of Requirement. What is this? Are Neville & Dobby interchangable?
2) They had shown the real reason for the breakup between Harry and Cho. They had their kiss and that was basically the last of the interaction between the two on screen.
3) Cho did not betray Dumbledore's Army! Would it have killed the director to depict what really happened?
4) Umbridge was clueless about Dumbledore's army up until Marietta snitched - Why oh why, did the movie make her seem suspicious almost from the very start?
5) Although the movie did a fair job conveying Umbridge's personality, it was only fair. I don't think it went far enough to convey the total nasty evilness of her personality.
6) When the prophecy broke NO ONE heard what it said!! I was disappointed in the scene between Dumbledore and Harry after the battle at the Ministry. What was so difficult about having Harry show his anger in Dumbledore's office and Dumbledore telling Harry what the prophecy said instead of portrying it the way they did in the movie?
7) In the book, Grawp was violent and the movie he seemed neither violent or dangerous

What happened to
A) Ron & Hermione being made prefects?
B) Harry's interview with Rita Skeeter?
C) The attack on Hagrid and Professor McGonagall?
C) Why was Firenze never mentioned?
D) Fred and George's swamp? (I know that's not really key to the story, but I would have loved to see it along with the teachers deliberate inability to clean it up with Umbridge's assistance.

I could mention more, but I think you are getting the idea.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the last person! I think it's a decent movie on it's own but they missed a LOT of important parts too. They didn't have quidditch and they didn't go to that St. Mungo's to visit Mr. Weasely. I was really disappointed about Ron and Hermoine not being prefects but hopefully they will be in the 6th movie. Also, I DO NOT LIKE THIS DUMBLEDORE AT ALL!!! He's suppose to be kind and not a jerk. Eg. Like in that scene where trelawny was being fired and Dumbledore says to the other students "What are you all waiting for? Shouldn't you all be studying?" I can't remember the exact lines but it was something like that. ergg i don't like this actor!

Anonymous said...

For some reason, all that was cut didn't bother me. I realize cuts must be made. However, it still has to be good with what material is left.

I give this movie a C, because it has no flow. It's a bunch of chopped up scenes, to me. I really tried to like it.

I'd have to disagree with you, though, that the 5th and 2nd books are weak. I'd like to know your reasoning behind that, as I'm curious. I enjoyed both, throroughly. But this movie is easily the first HP movie I dislike. They need to add like, 20~30 minutes and at least edit it more coherently so that it flows better.

Anonymous said...

Also, Why was Grawp in the movie? He is such an easy candidate for being cut, as he has a very minimal role in Deathly Hallows.

Now, Sirius's mirror that he gives Harry, and Kreacher, and Tonks being introduced PROPERLY - - all these things are important in Hallows. (Oh, also the prophecy explanation at the end.)

ALSO, The movies fail because Dumbledore fails. Harry and Dumbledore's relationship is complex and shit, but in the movies, Dumbledore is this violent, beaten old man as opposed to an all knowing, powerful sage.