Sunday, January 20, 2008

DVD Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 9/10

As Harry and crew continue to grow and mature, so does the look and feel of the franchise. The most gothic in its mise-en-scene, it is also the most intense in its pacing. The script does an admirable job of truncating Rowling's epic source material, although moments with the centaurs and Hagrid's half-brother feel abrupt and ultimately a bit unnecessary. Imelda Staunton proves a more loathesome villain than Voldemort, true to her literary counterpart. A final note: people need to quit bitching about which individually pet moments or characters get left in the world of the books, or quit going to see these adaptations. Considering the script packs a book running 26 hours when read out loud into 2 hours, all Potter heads should be thankful Rowling's creations are not getting the treatment Paolini's Eragon did.


  1. You and I disagree on the Potter movies in general. I've only really liked Azkaban to this point.

    I outright dislike the book Phoenix. Bloated, poorly edited, badly paced and overboard in all the wrong ways. To me, gutting it was a step in the right direction.

    The one "moment" I missed was actually in the movie - Fred & George's "quitting" of Hogwarts. It was there but without the extra context, it lacked some of the oopmh and "FRED & GEORGE RULE SO HARD" ness.

    Excepting that, the movie benefited in almost every way by excising the source material down to a lean 2 hours and whatever minutes. I was drawn into the movie, it felt like the appropriate deal. The lack of quidditch doesn't bother me, you know? Interestingly, even with the movie's "shortest of the series running time" you point out that some elements feel 'tacked on.' As I said, the book: BLOATED.

    Here's the thing. What the film OotP did was actually instill in me a sense of awestruck wonder. The key example of this is near the finale


    In the novel, when the Order of the Phoenix swoop into the department of mysteries and get into an all-out showdown with the Death Eaters, the entire series of events leading up to Sirius' death - really virtually the entire segment - is somewhat confusing and hard to follow. As such, Sirius' death is very lacking in emotion. It's not really much. Dumbledore's fight with Voldemort is good, though...

    In the movie, when the Order swoops in, ASS-KICKING HAPPENED. It was AWESOME. The big pull-back shot with multiple characters, the music, the score, the direction... WOW. Just WOW. I NEVER got that from the book. Never. Other books in the series have, but the ending was just so damned tedious. Bonham-carter's Lestrange was fantastically delusional and evil. Sirius' death was like... no. Please no.

    And then, for the first goddamn time in the movie, they finally got Dumbledore right. Finally. Got. Him. Right. Look, I don't expect movie adaptations of comics and novels to be slavishly devoted to the source material. They simply can't be. But the Potter movies have failed to really capture Dumbledore to this point, four being the worst offender - what was Dumbledore's shining moment was blah.

    But this?

    This was awesome and Dumbledore vs Voldemort was amazing. Not just that, but Dumbledore in the trial and through-out.

    There is little that is "superior" in the book version of Phoenix. The film truly kept what was important and got rid of all the fat. In terms of the films, this movie depends on the story to be good - but it easily outstrips all but Azkaban in quality. In some ways I like it more than Azkaban, though Azkaban is less trapped by continuity and the complexities that come with the fifth in the series.

    I just need more Alan Rickman! Oh wait, next is Half-Blood. Oh, YES.

    Conclusion: Awe-inspiring, they got Dumbledore RIGHT one movie before his big scene, good to great acting, and a very fast-moving and well trimmed plot. Two big thumbs up.

  2. I don't read or watch Harry Potter but I daresay you actually meant "all Potter heads should be thankful Rowling's creations are NOT getting the treatment Paolini's Eragon did" since I'm well aware of your opinion on how much suckage Eragon the film exuded.

    Unless you actually meant to imply that the HP series and Eragon are on equal film footing. Either way, I guess.

  3. Right you are Gabrielle! Correction made. And as for the book/movie comparison Ryan, I'd have to say I agree with you on that one. Which I think is why I liked the film so much.