Friday, July 13, 2007

Nutshell Reviews: Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix

Stop! In case you haven't read it, I've put up a post on the rest of the Harry Potter books and movies, so read that one first and then come back.

The Order of the Phoenix had a lot going for it before the opening credits even rolled. I knew the cast were back, and I liked them. I was very happy with the edit done to the last book on translation into a movie and I had confidence that the same might be done to this one. And I had read an interview with the director of this and the upcoming sixth movie due in 2008, and he is a huge fan of Bill Nighy, so I liked him too.

Fiennes was once again astoundingly good was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and looks dashing in a tux! The Wesley twins, played with style and conviction by James and Oliver Phelps once again seemed to steal any scene they appeared in, even if neither ever open his mouth! My favourite character in the book, Sirius Black was wonderfully portrayed once more by the equally wonderful Gary Oldman, and new addition Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge can only be described as the written words on the page given life and committed to film! She was incredible. While we're here, the rest of the cast were wonderful too, without a single weak link. I must give a big congratulations to Irish actress Evanna Lynch who played Luna Lovegood. As a character I had forgotten completely about from the book, she was memorably played by the young talent in her first role in anything ever! That's what happens with open auditions!

Moving on from the cast, the music was great! So too were the special effects. Clean, vibrant CGI made the big moments a joy to watch. The scenes of Dumbledores Army (pictured to the left) practicing in their private hide-away made for great character moments, as well as awesome special effects. Broomstick flying along the Thames sent shivers down my back, and the final showdown between Voldemort and Dumbledore was spectacular eye candy.

So the movie was great, right?

Wrong.

Everything I hated about the novel was in the movie. Harry spent most of his time whinging and whining, acting more like a spoilt brat than the shy, reluctant character he was previously. Communication between characters was worse than on the Lost island! If people were just upfront with Harry almost everything could have been avoided! Worst of all is Dumbledore, who distances himself from Harry to "protect him", but that very act causes Harry to run head first into the Death-Eaters trap!! The prophesy everyone is after, either to hear or protect tells us a fact that we have known since book one, page one! Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot!! This is worse than a poorly written DnD plot!

And the "important character" death! Arg! When I got to that bit in the novel I threw the book away I was so frustrated! It was random, stupid and pointless, and done to a character that had itself proclaimed in that very book how useless it felt! Due to the possibly spoilery nature of the following paragraph, I'm writing it in white, so if you want to read it, just click around here, then, keeping the left button pressed, move the mouse down to highlight the paragraph, revealing the hidden text (it's better done than the blasted prophesy was!). Yes, I know most of my readers were aware of how this works, but I'm erring on the side of caution here!

The killed off character is of course, Sirius Black. Now while I admit bias on the previously mentioned fact of him being my favourite character in the series, it was obvious that Rowling had no more use for him. After his book, Prisoner of Azkaban, he only ever appeared to throw out a piece of advice to Harry or be a sounding board for Harrys frustrations. His purpose was done. His last act was to let Dumbledore use his house for their base. And then he suffers a ridiculous death. Hit by a knock-back spell that would hardly have bruised him in any other situation, he stumbles, stumbles back into a mysterious veil with mysterious voices of the dead. Could this veil be a not-to-subtle reference to the "veil of death"?!? Oh god. Yes. What a stupid way to remove a character, just so she could announce an "important character" (yeah, right.) death in the newest novel. Awful. The movie actually makes it even worse, as the scene where Sirius laments his uselessness doesn't have 400 pages of fluff to make you forget it before he meets his demise. Instead, he tells Harry how useless he is and a few minutes later, *poof* he's dead. Didn't see that one coming, did ya?!?

The Order of the Phoenix was the book that turned me off the whole Harry Potter franchise. While I was never one of the "queue for the midnight launch" kind of fans, I read and enjoyed the novels. Until Order. It was ridiculously long, padded out with more fluff than ever before. I've mentioned the flaws just a bit ago, so I don't need to here... but I will anyway, cause they were terrible and should be emphasised! Whiny Harry, useless prophesy, unhelpful secrecy and pointless death. And the movie has them all. In fact, by successfully exorcising the fluff, the bad points just get crammed together, one running into the next!

The Half-Blood Prince is the first of the novels I have yet to read, and most likely will not have by the time the movie adaptation comes out. But where Order put me off the books, the movie hasn't entirely put me off the movies. Sure, I'm not going to be preordering tickets, and I might grab a matinee to save on the entry price, but if the effects and acting are as strong and enjoyable to watch as they were in this one, it'll be worth seeing once.

But only once.

And I still won't read the damned book.

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