Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

18 Jul

The short review is that this is debatably the best Harry Potter movie. The longer review is as follows:
After seeing the fourth Harry Potter movie I said that they finally figured out the right balance between what to leave in, what to take out, and what to change when going from a Harry Potter book into a Harry Potter movie. While I still think that’s true, the final result of Movie Four (Goblet of Fire) feels somehow segmented. It’s one part, which leads to another, and then another, and so on until the final part. It didn’t feel as cohesive as Order of the Phoenix, which flows smoothly from frame one to the final showdown without stuttering.
Book five is among my least favorite of the books, and this time around the book is deleted, changed, and deviated from more than the other four but I think it’s to the benefit of the movie. We’ll soon know if anything too important was left out. Also, this movie does what none of the others have: it proves that Harry Potter is real.
Let me explain.
When I was at Hampshire we had a conversation where several of us stated that Harry Potter is not, in fact, fiction. I mean, you can get on a train in London and actually go to Hogwarts! It’s a real place and it’s all really happening! This movie proves it. You see, I make movies, I’ve worked with and seen performers, actresses, you know, and Luna Lovegood is no actress. Sure she has a pseudonym of “Evanna Lynch” but it’s really just Luna Lovegood. Yes, the crew this time around hired the actual character to play herself, on the condition that they call her “Evanna” so that we wouldn’t notice.
So let’s see, what else was cool about this movie? I’m glad that they finally started to use clips from the previous movies, and they managed (mostly with a lot of montages using The Daily Prophet) to set up a feeling that there’s a lot going on that we’re just not seeing on the screen. Things like Ginny and Hermione hanging out a lot, Fred and George planning on starting a store, Ron playing quidditch, etc. haven’t been deleted from the movie per say, they’re just not being shown on screen. There’s a lot that (could be) happening in between all the scenes. This also lends the movie an air of authenticity because it implies that the world of Harry Potter is too big for a movie. There’s mysterious “disappearances” going on that are only mentioned. There’s politics and secret societies and meetings that the younger characters aren’t involved in. There’s exams and classes and relationships that we don’t have time to see. But we know they’re all happening. Because it’s all real.
The payoff for all of this is that Harry has a weight to him that he’s never had before.
This is due in no small part to the increasingly talented portrayal by Daniel Radcliffe, as well as the way the script revised the story to focus solely on Harry. However they did it though, it makes this movie the most involving so far.
Did I mention that the final half-hour involves massive wizard duels including a showdown between Dumbledore and “Tom” himself? Cause it does. It’s awesome. No dragons though.
Oh yeah! I almost forgot to say that after a second viewing I noticed things about the structure of the story that have thus far eluded me due to the longer and more complicated nature of the book. There’s a huge running theme in this story about older, more experienced people versus the younger, more eager ones. The two new main characters are the best example. One is an older female who is proper, pink, and evil. She inspires, you could say, Umbrage. The other is a younger female who is naive, innocent, and joyful. She is, you could say, Lovegood. Another example is the M logo which represents the Ministry of Magic, that benevolent government out to maintain peace in the wizarding world (or perhaps just cause a war due to denial of reality). In any case if you flip their logo, the M, you get the W. W as in “Weasley.” It’s seen most prominently right after the fireworks burn Umbrage and erupt cheers out of everyone else (including the audience). The older characters in this story are mostly wrong, mostly blinded by their experience or their desire and end up in trouble for it. You know what they say about good intentions…
The younger characters are usually eager, strong followers of their desires and end up stronger and wiser for it. Perhaps the most poignant example is Dumbledore, who in this one is seen to be more humble than we’ve ever seen him. Especially when he admits, at the end, that he made a mistake with the way he dealt with Harry all year. Harry, on the other hand, seems more confident than ever.
One can only imagine how strong he’ll become once his unrequited love for Ginny is unbridled…


2 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

  1. motherofjedi August 3, 2007 at 2:02 pm #

    hello there, my dear;
    I’m coming back to the internet after a fairly long absence because we just finished reading HP7 last night. I read it out loud to my dad and it took us about 10 days, and I didn’t cheat by reading ahead or even by looking at the chapter titles. And I’m glad, because instead of inhaling the book as I normally would and probably missing nuances, I really savored every word, and I am very very impressed with what JKR accomplished.
    But I want to comment on your HP movie review, with which I heartily agree. The Umbridge-Luna contrast was so beautifully put forth in the film by having Umbridge scenes, where the evil feels like it’s sticking to your skin, followed immediately by Luna scenes, where her serenity and beauty wash you clean.
    I also agree with you about Harry’s growing confidence. What Harry reminds me of (you won’t be surprised) is Luke as he enters Jabba’s palace in RotJ. The first look at Luke, the new Luke who has somehow anchored himself in the Force more fully since the escape from Cloud City, always stuns me. And Harry is doing the same, and this is of course very evident in the even more mature Harry of book 7.
    *big hugs!*

    • junorhane August 6, 2007 at 7:03 pm #

      I tried to savor every word and take it slow, and I managed to take a few days to read it, but it was really hard to put down. I guess reading it out loud to someone would have helped.
      It’s quite an ending, and I love that she really had this all in mind from so long ago. Quite an accomplishment. Although I feel that book 7 is by far the “fullest” of them all and don’t really have any idea how they’re going to make a movie out of it.

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