Saturday, July 14, 2007

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix (Movie Review)

I won't explain myself -- and my obsession with the Harry Potter series -- again.

(That's what hyperlinks are for.)

But I will say I enjoyed this film quite a bit, which should come as no surprise to anyone who's kept up on my almost-medical condition.

That's not to say this fifth film (of seven) is necessarily as good as the previous. I didn't expect it to be -- each book is longer, and so directors and screenwriters alike are forced to cut more and more out in order to transform 900 page books into 2 1/2 hours. It's no measly task, and I think both parties deserve fair credit for keeping the film on track with the main storyline.

[Even if they do rely more and more on quick clips of The Daily Prophet (the preferred newspaper for all non-muggles) to fill in narrative gaps]

In The Order of the Phoenix (2007), Harry returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his fifth year. That means he's 16, and so going through all of the typical rites of passage for that age (first real kiss, growing body, angst, confusion, attempts to define "self," etc.). But Harry also has the added distinction of being the most famous boy at school -- a modern day "savior," really.

But, alas, no one believes Harry when he says He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Lord Voldemort aka "Tom Riddle") has returned to destroy their world, and even The Daily Prophet is siding with the Ministry of Magic in trashing Potter and his hero, head master Albus Dumbledore, positioning both as "liars."

With all of the world against him, Potter thus feels all the more alone (something any teenager can relate to). But once he realizes the Order of the Phoenix (a group of "good" adult witches and wizards) is by his side, he aspires to likewise prepare his schoolmates -- even after Hogwarts is taken over by the Ministry.

And there, in typical J.K. Rowling fashion, is the part where the author inserts political and social commentary, with the Ministry and its failure to recognize the truth -- all the while inflicting torture on those it deems to be in the wrong -- bearing an uncanny resemblance to past and present governments. Recent infringements of certain civil liberties in the "real" world certainly come to mind.

Fast notes about the movie:

  • I'd forgotten how altogether creepy Luna Lovegood was
  • Neville Longbottom plays a pretty big role in the book, particularly in a cetain fight scene. I was sorry to see him back in the shadows in the film
  • Like the book, this isn't as good as the third installment, but I preferred it over the fourth
  • Don't take little kids to see this. If thy're not old enough to read it and understand it, they're not old enough to watch it.
  • This film is the darkest thus far -- but that's to be expected, since each book is darker than the previous. Thus, it feels a little less escapist as Potter battles more "serious" demons -- both external and internal
  • It's still escapism as a whole, and I realize I sound like a real dork by even writing in such detail about the series
  • I don't care

Anyhoo. I'm off to do something intellectual.

Just kidding.



Anonymous said...

It helps if you haven't read the book in a while. I had forgotten a lot of the plot points so I wasn't upset about not seeing them. I find it is easier to watch adaptations this way.

Quick question (that I wanted to ask when I saw the movie): Who carries a chunk of raw meat around with them?

disgruntled world citizen said...

i'm going to check out the movie sometime this week.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

BPP - Are you referring to the meat Hagrid was carrying around in his cabin? I think that was sorta a throwback to Flinstones-type medical solutions. Hagrid was all bruised/cut, and the (cold) beef was probably intended to help with the swelling. At least that's how I interpreted it... though it wouldn't have hurt for the director to show Hagrid actually holding the beef to his eye.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

DWC - Let me know what you think. Have you pre-ordered Book 7 through your employer yet? I figure I'll just pick it up a day or two after it's released... though just to be on the safe side, I probably won't watch/read the news until I finish the book.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

It's on my list of to do and to see...

Anonymous said...

No, I meant the meat Luna was carrying around to feed the baby invisible thing. (I can't remember the name of the creature.) An apple? Sure. Raw meat? Not so much.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

PE - Let me know what you think.

BPP - Ahhh, yes. My bad. I don't think it's a stretch for Luna, oddly enough. I like her character (and I think the girl playing her did a good job), but she's certainly a bit of a diversion from the norm.

Mystic Wing said...

We saw the movie over the weekend, and I rather liked it, too. I find the last couple of films, with their dark tone, much prefereble to the kiddie fairy tales of the first few.

But it did strike me that this movie—and perhaps the series in general—takes a very long time to execute what is basically a very simple plot line.

Hats off to Rowlling for pulling it off, but I wonder if she might have done better by writing one very good 900 page novel rather than expanding one good tale to fill seven books.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I agree completely. It is hard to be odd enough to stand out in a school full of witches and wizards. She stands out like a punk rocker in a revival tent. I like Luna and the girl playing her did a really good job of just being blissed out.

disgruntled world citizen said...

My dad and I went and saw it this afternoon. I'm glad I've read the book about four times. The movie moved FAST! They left alot out, I guess they had to, but still... I think I'm gonna hafta see it again. Good stuff, though.

As for the question about the preorder question... yes, I do have it on order. I'm working that night, too. Should be a good time. And I'm with you, I'm staying away from the news and internet so I don't stumble upon any spoilers.