17 July 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry P & the O of the P

So, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book to date to be made into a movie, and yet the shortest movie to be made to date. Does that not sound weird? Well, the fifth book was kind of slow and boring, but it was a solid book, and better than four in my opinion. But when it comes to the movies, Goblet of Fire is far superior to Order of the Phoenix. The main reason being, Order does not focus on school. There is no Quidditch. There are hardly any classes. The OWL tests make a cameo. Luna Lovegood is played down to almost not existing at all. The only thing focused on was the DA and Voldemort’s return. The one thing I do give this series kudos for is that they get the cast back for each film. None of the main characters have changed, except for the obvious replacement of Richard Harris with Michael Gambon following his death.

The movie opens with Harry sitting on a playset and Dudley coming over to give him crap. Well, Dementors intervene and Harry is forced to save himself and Dudley by use of magic. This puts the Ministry of Magic on Harry’s case for underage use of magic. Dumbledore comes to his rescue and he goes free. It is important to note that at this time, the Ministry does not believe that Voldemort has returned.

Harry is then taken to 12 Grimuld Place, the home base for the Order of the Phoenix and the home of his Godfather Sirius Black. The Order was formed to fight the Dark Lord when he was in power the first time. His parents and Nevell’s parents were some of the early casualties the Order suffered. In the house, we get out first look at Kreacher the House Elf.

So, on to Hogwart’s we go. Harry first sees the XXXX pulling the carriages and is told that you cannot see them until you see death. Then, Dumbledore introduces Professor Umbrige, then new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She is played by series newcomer Imelda Staunton. After this, first time director Yates and company start chopping the story up. Ginny and Ron do not have their moment on the Quidditch pitch. Cho and Harry have little to do with each other. The whole movie focuses on Dumbledore’s Army which is formed when Umbrige decides, with the backing of the Ministry, to not teach the students defense, but rather theory.

The climax scene in the movie takes place in the Ministry of Magic as Harry and the members of the DA are trying to find the prophecy that tells of him and Voldemort’s connection. This scene is done very well visually. It follows the book better than any other scene in the movie, but is sadly not as emotional. From here, the Order shows up to help fight the Death Eaters that have come to find the same prophecy. The first major death of the series takes place at this point. Finally, Voldemort makes his appearance and the whole wizarding world now know that he has returned.

Bottom line, it was not the best adaptation at all. It cuts the fat and only goes with what is important to the rest of the series. I find this odd because I like the books because they have all the little nuances going on in the background. SPEW never makes an appearance in the movies at all. And poor Dobby has not returned since being freed in the second film. Last thought, whose idea was it to release the book after the movie? This greatly killed the legs of this film. It would have easily made over $300 million if the entire audience was not at home shut in reading the final book. The repeat attendance had to be down. Stupid idea. Anyway, the movie is worth seeing in theaters if you are a fan of the franchise. If you are not, I do not know what you would be doing seeing this movie. Just beware purists, that it is not a faithful adaptation.

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