Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Created: Sat Mar 20 21:06:09 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 21:18:30 2010
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Direction: David Yates
External Link: IMDb
Without doubt, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is probably the most difficult Harry Potter book to translate into movie form, as it spans over 700 pages and is bogged down by incredibly minor episodes and events which follow a parallel thread to the main plotline. To be frank, the main plotline is a bit thin in any case and so a movie producer has the unenviable task of finding the right balance between concentrating on the storyline or concentrating on the world of Harry Potter at Hogwarts. So how does the movie stand up to the book?
I was disappointed by the movie. It is understandable that it would sacrifice a lot of the frills in order to get to the meat of the book but I did expect that some of the more important events at Hogwarts would feature here: for instance, Hagrid's role is reduced to a couple of scenes - the one with Grawp in the forbidden forest is shown, but his dismissal from Hogwarts is not even hinted at. Similarly a lot of plot devices are either completely absent or modified to a different form. Notable omissions are Quidditch at Hogwarts and minor but important characters like Dobby, the house-elf who helps Harry in finding out and using the Room of Requirement. Only a few classes are shown - notably the one where Harry Potter defies Umbridge and gets detention and Harry's secret Occlumency Lesson with Snape. Also the sequence where Harry probes into Snape's past is modified (the Pensieve does not play a role in the movie) and is way too short to have any real impact on the viewer. And unlike the book which has its share of humour, the movie is completely devoid of such "frills." Also the meeting between Harry Potter and Dumbledore at Dumbledore's Office after the battle at the Ministry is very, very tame - much unlike the book where Harry Potter spews out his anger and frustration on the Headmaster of Hogwarts.
On to the strong points and there are a few: Dolores Umbridge's character is quite differently potrayed and I think it's much more effective in the movie than in the book thanks to Imelda Staunton who comes out as the sweet-talking but odious High Inquisitor at Hogwarts. The book potrays Umbridge as repulsive, dark and sadistic while the movie shows her more as a ruthless disciplinarian with a cruel streak which appears to be more realistic. Surprisingly the character of Luna Lovegood is given a bit too much importance even though Evanna Lynch plays the role to perfection. Ron and Hermione, on the other hand are mere spectators right through to the end and don't carry much impact in spite of being more important to the overall scheme of things. The whole action is smooth flowing, though quite disjointed at times and the showdown at the Ministry of Magic in the climax is captured quite well. In particular, the battle between Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort at the end where they exchange blows using dazzling spells is a high point. The suavely villainous Lucius Malfoy and the deranged, sadistic Bellatrix Lestrange do play small, but memorable roles in the movie. The atmosphere is suitably eerie and dark throughout the whole movie which is in keeping with the general mood of the book.
But overall, watching OOTP is like watching a sequence of images and sounds flash past you with little or no time to absorb them. The movie feels so rushed and devoid of emotion, almost as though the director was keen on getting it over with after taking on such a huge task. People who haven't read the book will find it impossible to know what is going on since explanations are completely missing and the build up to the climax (which is the real tension of the novel) is absent. There's no focus on any particular aspect either and leaves the viewer with little to take away from the overall experience of watching the movie.
In the overall analysis I would say it's worth watching once if you're a Harry Potter fan, just to visualize your favourite characters, but otherwise I think it's not really anything to write home about. Rent the DVD if you can - buying it is a waste of money.