Thursday July 12, 2007 5:07 pm
Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the movie based on book five of the Harry series, opened yesterday in a mid-week event that had everyone scrambling to get to theatres. But, is the movie worth all the hype and hoopla?
The first scene featuring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter himself) showed a rather buff young man who could…sort of…pass for fifteen. Maybe. Fans were immediately thrown into danger and treated to some stunning CGI, though anyone unfamiliar with the series by this point will be instantly and immediately lost. If you don’t already know the story, The Order of the Phoenix is not the place to get started.
In the blink of an eye, Harry Potter meets the Order (though this is not properly explained) and soon enough is whisked off to school. It is right around this point that fans of the book series are going to have some trouble. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to interpret the scenes and dialogue that have been completely manufactured, spotting the little details that got changed, and cringing over everything that’s getting left out. The first few months of the book fly by in the space of maybe a minute and a half.
One thing that can be said of all the Harry Potter movies, at least so far, is the casting. New characters added to the screen for this flick include spacey Luna Lovegood “Looney,” played wonderfully by Evanna Lynch; Nymphadora Tonka (Natalie Tena); Kingsley Shacklebolt (George Harris); diabolical villain Dolores Umbridge, played by unlikely-looking Imelda Staunton; and Bellatrix Lestrange, brought to life perfectly by Helena Bonham Carter. The characters and the cast are not disappointing – nor have they ever been.
No, where Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix fails is in the scripting, in the length, and in the total deviations it takes from the novel. This is where die-hard fans of the series will be left disappointed. A few scenes were invented, while several more were changed, and some of the true highlights of the book (such as St. Mungo’s, the re-appearance of 2nd-year teacher Gilderoy Lockhart, and the introduction of the Longbottoms) have been left out completely. The Order of the Phoenix is at turns too fast-paced, highly confusing, and often leaves viewers guessing.
If you don’t read the book, you’re missing more than half the story. But if you’ve never read the book, you probably won’t be disappointed by the new Harry Potter flick.
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