My rating of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Yahoo! Movies page): B+ (Memorable)
Directed by: David Yates
Released by: Warner Bros
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton
This is what happens when you have a long and meandering story to turn into a movie. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which might just be getting the most amount of attention because of the forthcoming release of the last Harry Potter book this Saturday, turns out to be the worst of the lot yet. In fact, if you simply go and watch the movie without reading the book, I won’t blame you if you can’t make out a thing. You NEED to read the book before seeing this, because the movie has cut down the novel’s story so short that it doesn’t make sense at times. It was meant to happen – when the longest novel of the series so far is turned into the shortest HP movie ever. Sheesh, the whole movie is akin to watching soccer match highlights! And they way they’ve twisted the storyline is terrible terrible…
Watch the trailer of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
To be fair, the movie does have its high points. I really liked the use of raw and jerky camera footage in some sequences, something noticeably absent in the earlier ones. It also deserves much praise for its stunning visuals (and I don’t mean special effects here). The stunning Lord of the Rings style sweeping vistas and flybys are well, stunning. The way the transitions between scenes are handled, and the cool camera perspectives that are used are worth appreciating. As for special effects, I’d call them mediocre, after the high standards set by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I heard some gushing stuff in the newspaper of them having made some of the biggest sets for the current movie, but frankly, I wasn’t impressed. The ones in the movie hardly even compare to the massive spaces in the Ministry of Magic and all that are depicted in the novel. In fact, the Department of Mysteries sequences definitely feels as if it was shot in a small kitchen or a library, compared to what the book paints it like. Must say though – the scene on the Azkaban break out was way cool, although short.
As for the acting, I’ve always said it’s pretty bad in ALL Harry Potter movies. The only exceptions, among the regulars, are Alan Rickman as Professor Snape – boy does he fit the role well – and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger – she’s the only one among the three main protagonists who can actually act, and do it well too. As for this particular movie, it’s worth mentioning that Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, and Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood (she really DID act well) do a commendable job. After watching the trailer I had been apprehensive about Umbridge, because she seemed far too sweet in it to be the toad-like and evil woman she is in the novel; she definitely looked like a harmless old granny rather than a person who’d make people etch lines on their hands. I take back my words after seeing the movie. Sure, she isn’t as revolting to look at, but she’s definitely got the irritating part right. You really WILL feel the hatred against her for her sheer irritatingness. Gary Oldman as Sirius Black is ok. Rickman does well as usual, imbibing that cold, ruthless speak amazingly. Emma Watson, as always, is the only one who actually has and expression while speaking. As for Rupert Grint as Ron Weasely, he’s far too old for his role – he looks like a 20 year old man! Justin Long as Matt Farrell in Die Hard 4.0 looked younger! The rest of the cast is pathetic, simply muttering lines without any feeling, simply because they need to get their paycheck. Mrs Figg in the movie doesn’t act scared even after seeing the Dementors; Uncle Vernon reacts to Dudley’s ill health as if he just heard something funny on the news – it’s terrible the expressionless way everyone does their roles in this movie. Daniel Radcliffe has shown some improvement because he no longer keeps on gaping like a goldfish all the time; but is still pathetic as far as dialogue delivery is concerned.
The soundtrack is grating and terrible. It’s totally loony as far as syncing with on screen events is concerned. A cheerful tune while Dementors are attacking? Yeah right. And funeral dirges on solemn occasions? Yup, they’re there too.
Don’t get taken in by the ‘this Potter movie is darker than the previous one’ (which they say for every new Potter movie) this time. The fourth one was definitely more darker than this. I really don’t like this one for changing the story so much. The list is endless. Starting from Privet Drive, everything has been compressed. Ron and Hermione become prefects – never mentioned. So much of the happenings at the Department of Mysteries has been cut out and twisted and mangled that there was hardly anything left of it. Even the turning points like Sirius Black getting killed seems like it was done as an afterthought. No focus AT ALL has been given on the OWLs; the part on Harry going public with The Quibbler ain’t there; and there’s no Quidditch too in this one! It was a major part of the novel after all. Even the exit of Fred and George Weasley from Hogwarts is so watered down that it looks pathetic. The much hyped kiss with Cho Chang has simply been put in because of the buzz it would create – because it certainly didn’t deserve screen time if other much more important scenes have been dropped. Oh, I can go on and on about it, but they really really messed up the story. I wouldn’t mind watching a longer movie really, if it ensured that the stuff would be better. It seems as if Warner Bros wants to spend less and extract more profits out of the franchise.
My fave among all Potter movies though would be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. When seen along with the others, it’s horribly out of sync in the look and feel of the characters; watch the movie and isolation though and you’ll find it far better than anything else that has come out in the series. Seriously, Alfonso Cuaron is one helluva amazing director. His effect HAS rubbed off on the subsequent ones though – even the latest movie has some droll wit; and his work on better focus on visuals continues, albeit much watered down, in the later movies.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is simply something to be watched BECAUSE it comes in the series. It’s the worst by far. The only saving grace are the awesome camera perspectives.