Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

[Screenshot]And so we get tot the most disordered entry into the Harry Potter franchise. Despite my disenchantment with the last two books, at least they were about something. The plot of the book on which this film is based goes in a million different directions and ends up pretty diffuse.

So, yeah, not a real ripe candidate for adaptation: the source material was weak, and the film franchise is kinda scraping the bottom of our wonder and awe at magical effects anyways. It’s interesting to see what they deemed necessary to cut to squeeze this into a film. Basically, everything not connected to the totalitarianism-at-Hogwarts subplot was cut. This has some benefits, such as the removal of the cringe-inducing teen-romance plot, but it also complicates and muddles major plot points (in this story and, God help us, the sequels). For instance, while the totalitarian-leadership story works well enough, it basically doesn’t tie into the Voldemort-wants-something story. I would have been fine with dropping the prophecy storyline anyways, because it’s kind of stupid, but it is the climax of the book, so they can’t really do that. So the movie feels like it suddenly stops telling the interesting story, and shifts gears for an unrelated botched rescue with Ralph Fiennes lacking a nose and failing to look very intimidating. It’s very random. The final showdown is better than in the book (honestly, it would be hard to be worse than that muddle of exposition) and it was nice to give Sirius a real death instead of the silly stumbling-over-the-wrong-doorway deal, but, still, it’s a godawful mess.

So, yeah, as you may have noted, I’m not a real fan of the way they did this one, not that I can suggest any way to do it better except perhaps not to do it at all. Besides the plot construction (and some of the dialogue) I have little complaint. The visual effects are good as usual, and the kids act reasonably well (including the newcomers); the main complaint I have about acting gets back to my prior structural complaint, which is that the extraordinary adult cast is used lamentably little. Does Maggie Smith even get a speaking role here?

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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