Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

August 17, 2010

This is an up and down movie in my opinion.  Some aspects are delightful and done so well … others are unpleasant and creepy (but supposed to be) … and some are tragic mistakes.  They had a lot of ground to cover, plot wise, so some things did have to be cut.  But still I mourn the loss of Kreature, of all the emotional development and insight into the adult characters that takes place at Grimauld Place and,  for that matter, all of the personality in Tonks full stop, etc etc etc. There’s a lot packed into it but still it somehow manages to retail a good sense of pacing.  There are the usual high adrenaline action sequences but there are moments of down time and character development which I really appreciate.

The good and bad of the book: I love Sirius (with all his flaws) and I’m glad we get at least a little time between him and Harry at the train station and again at Christmas.  Its not much but I love every bit of it.  Gary Oldman just nails the role.  In a few short scenes he gives all of Sirius’ pathos and bravery and yet still hints at his recklessness and rebellion.

And I absolutely adore the DA.  More on my general love of it in another post.  For the moment I’ll just say that I think the room of requirement is beautiful and the spell practicing scenes are note perfect and that just listening to the soundtrack from that scene makes me smile.

Umbridge, of course,creeps the hell out of, as she is supposed to do.  Imelda Staunton does a great job with the role and I admire her … but I don’t enjoy it.

The things they did Oh So Well: The way they used dramatic swoops through the Daily Prophet to sweep through chunks of exposition at several points and particularly at the end is really elegant.  It gives us all the information we need about the vindication of Harry and Dumbledore, the shift in public consciousness and the sacking of Fudge as minister.  Plus the design of the Prophet (admittedly not new for this movie) is lovely.

Similarly I just loved Umbridge’s wall of Ministry decrees.  It was so beautiful … and told so much plot in such a clean visual way that I didn’t even mind the mildly stupid gag of Filch climbing up a ridiculously long ladder and nearly hammering himself off of it to post them.

And then there’s Cho: I don’t have much use for her in the books (even when its her friend who sneaks on the DA – which seriously WOULD NOT have taken any more screen time to explain and I don’t know why they changed it).  She’s weepy and useless.  The last time I watched this movie I used the fast forward and scene skip controls to edit her out of the movie and found it much improved. On the other hand, there is my favorite scene re: Cho, and possibly in the movie.  Granted, though, she isn’t in it.

“Don’t you understand how she’s feeling?”

“No.”

“Well, obviously she’s feeling sad about Cedric, therefore confused about liking Harry and guilty about kissing him, conflicted because Umbridge is threatening to sack her mum from her job at the ministry and frightened of failing her O.W.L.s because she’s so busy worrying about everything else.”

“One person couldn’t feel all that.  They’d explode.”

“Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon…”

Overall, the fifth installment is handled competently by David Yates.  There are lots of moments to enjoy.  But it doesn’t exactly set me on fire.  Its surprising to me that my reaction is so markedly different to this one than to Half Blood Prince, released just two years later with the same directorial team.  More on that tomorrow.

Click here for more on Harry Potter.

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