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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Reviewed by RevolutionSF, © 2007

Format: Movie
By:   David Yates (director)
Genre:   Fantasy
Review Date:   July 17, 2007

A gaggle of RevolutionSF writers also saw the new 'Arry movie. So here's a second opinion. And a third. And a fourth. And a fifth.

* * * * *

At best a 6/10 and by far the worst of the five films, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was paced poorly, directed badly, woodenly acted, and unnecessarily confusing. Some scenes, especially the secret, kabbalistic-style meetings of the Order of the Phoenix, the students' hidden training classes, and the portrayal of Dolores Jane Umbridge all excelled but sadly there wasn't enough of these to cover the missing plot holes and obviously missing story elements. At movie's end, I turned to my wife, who had read the book, to fill in the missing bits for me. Previously reading the book should not be essential to fully understand a movie.

And just so you don't think I'm a Harry Potter curmudgeon, I did enjoy the previous films especially the excellent Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This movie would have benefited from another 30-45 minutes to help make everything clear. -- Rick Klaw

* * * * *

Yeah, I wouldn't say it's the worst of the lot. I really disliked Chris Columbus' whole approach in the first two. But Rick's points are all on the nose. The director made some really odd choices in what to include in the film and what to leave out.

It's especially frustrating since the book was the best of the series so far. It really lends itself to "Why didn't they have this awesome scene? Or that?" -- Shane Ivey

* * * * *

7 out of 10, behind Prisoner and ahead of Goblet by a broom straw. I liked the movie, but it fely like a rocket-sled ride through the Cliff's Notes version of the book. Everyone but Harry was pretty much a cameo. The end fight wasn't as intense or harsh as it was in the book (no surprise, really), and the Weasley twins' riotous exodus was not nearly as fun as it should have been. Only fireworks?

I liked how You-Know-Who was a constant, malevolent presence throughout the flick, without actually having a lot of screen time. I loved Umbridge and her wall of kitty plates that let you know she's evil, and Oldman's wink where he doesn't even close his eye. That was just cool.

And Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix: No one does psycho/sexy like she does. The shot of her in the chains, howling in rage was twistedly beautiful. Licking her own Dark Mark then cackling was just so deliciously wrong. I'll be in my bunk. -- Gary Mitchel

* * * * *

It was exciting and interesting as the fourth movie, wherein we are forced to jettison all of the subplots, side trips, and tangents, as well as the world-building bits of business, to concentrate on the Main Plot of good versus evil.

Is that bad? Not really. But watching Four and Five so soon after reading Four and Five really drives home how much condensing and tightening the filmmakers are doing to get this book series on the screen.

One of the things that interests me is how the movies have informed my re-reading of the books. Gary Oldman, for example, filling in handily for whomever I originally saw as Sirius Black, and with the re-reading of book five, I was expecting some great scenery chewing between him and Alan Rickman here, but apparently, there wasn't time.

There was a lot of those types of scenes excised in the interests of time. And the movie is over 2 hours long, at that. Draco gets two scenes, and don't blink or you'll miss them. The montage scene worked well, where we got a lot of info in short order. Unfortunately, doing it that way cuts short the first MacGonagal/Umbrage fight. It doesn't really happen. Not like in the books. Sigh.

By the way, Gary Oldman pulls off one of the best winks in the history of the universe. His eye doesn't even close! Watch for it. It's breathtaking.

I have a new wizard crush: Tonks is a RoboBabe, and I'll fight anyone who says different. Helena Bonham Carter is note-perfect as Bellatrix, and really, did anyone think she wouldn't pull it off? Please.

There's a shoe waiting to drop that never quite does so. I can't imagine how they will make that mess of Book Six into a film. Flashbacks are SOOOO entertaining, after all. At least this movie begins with a dementor attack and ends with a big honking wizard duel.

This movie (and the last one) accomplish the goal of acting as highlight reels for the books, and don't quite stand on their own as films. The only thing that saves them is that everyone on the planet knows they are chapters in a seven part story that will (hopefully) make sense when it's all said and done. If the filmmakers are smart, they will film six and seven back to back and release them nine months apart.

Maybe I'm just antsy waiting for the seventh and final book. -- Mark Finn



 
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