Harry Potter and the Test of Patience

by

What bugs me most about Order of the Phoenix is all the great actors that are in it, names like Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewlis, Ralph Fiennes, all together in one movie, but no… Hagrid’s retarded CGI enhanced giant brother steals the most screentime. That alone should condemn the movie but it is an adaptation and it must adhere to the source, frustrating and bloated as it is. When those actors are onscreen the movie momentarily elevates above the pedestrian direction and bland orchestration of the soundtrack.

Enjoy Lupin while he lasts.

The kids get all the acting fun. Or rather one, Daniel Radcliffe, who quite literally carries the whole movie as the incredibly depressed titular spellcaster. He really does a good job when all he does is look angry and pout. His emo glare could have been as hilarious as Tobey Maguire’s in Spider-Man 3. The guy’s grown into a fairly convincing thespian, a quick glimpse during a flashback of his younger self from the first movie shows how far he’s come. Sadly, co-star Rupert Grint, who should get a lot more work, gets the shaft once more, relegated to Harry Potter’s buddy who shows up once in a while to say something then leave again. Eventually everyone falls to the wayside, except Harry and Ralph Fiennes’ welcome return as Voldemort for a final display of CG wizardry and pyrotechnics.

The Order of the Redheads

Which is what Order of the Phoenix amounts to: two and a half hours of waiting for something to remind me I’m watching a movie about wizards and magic. Waiting for the next scene with Gary Oldman or Alan Rickman. It’s a decent flick but not as good as the two previous installments. A lot happens and a few new characters are introduced but none of it feels like the events they’re supposed to be, especially a character’s death that just. Sorta. Happens. If you blink, you may miss it. Which is a big problem. I don’t want to just watch the goings-on as they occur, I want to be engaged and this movie, beyond a few moments, failed to do so.

Order of the Phoenix is a disappointing sequel, a thankless one. That’s the problem with big long serials, eventually it’s going to feel like nothing more than an episode of TV. As it is now it is just one big set-up episode, a stop-gap between the next entry and finally, the conclusion of the entire show. Hopefully they’ll make those into the big event this one wasn’t.

Expecto PACHICKEN

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9 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Test of Patience”

  1. johnmora Says:

    One of the things that always seems to be true about movies with amazing, fantastic casts is that it almost always comes at the cost of the actors being in it for only a small amount of time. Usually the reason so many outstanding people can be in the same movie and not have it be the most expensive movie of all time due entirely to actors’ salaries is because it’s a movie they can do inbetween other, more serious and involved projects. So I didn’t go into this with any expectation that the adult actors would have any sort of weight or relevance. What I did go into this expecting was a movie.

    Instead, it seems, they were content on giving us a slideshow of the events of the book. Yeah, it’s certainly Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but only in the most literal sense of the word. It doesn’t FEEL like the book feels. It doesn’t even have a feeling of its own. It’s completely flatlined in terms of being a living, breathing movie. It’s undead adaptation movie!

    I mean, could they have gone a safer route? There’s really nothing to differentiate this from the guy that did Goblet of Fire except for the lengths of the characters’ hair (which was honestly one of the only annoyances I had with the last one). There is, I suppose, one thing that makes this stand apart from the others. Things keep happening on the very edge of the frame. And I don’t know why, except that the director, a TV movie veteran, really thought it would be artsy and cool. Except it wasn’t. It just frustrated me as I saw Harry placed mundanely on the edge with a bunch of empty space filling the rest. The most annoying time it did this was the Dumbledore/Voldemort fight. I wanna see the fight, not Harry and a bunch of wall!

    The second thing that crippled this movie was the very unwise editing from the book. It left out a lot of unnecessary things, sure, but there were some things that I think ended up shortchanging the “Order of the Phoenix” experience, especially for people that will never read the book. The movie was only about two hours and ten minutes long. Why? That’s about the same runtime that the last two movies were. Why? Was there something about the first two that made them special enough to get nearly three hour runtimes? Was there something BAD about them that made WB enforce a time limitation? I can’t think of any other reason why this movie has to be so short, since it wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to add the content that seemed missing. Taking out St. Mungo’s hospital and the full coda to the movie really cripples Neville’s subplot, which felt like an important part of the book and the Harry Potter mythos. Instead, we just know that Neville’s a poor orphan. If I was the actor, I’d feel miffed.

    Also, I don’t care what they have to do, but John Williams needs to come back. After rather average scores for Sorceror’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, his soundtrack for Prisoner of Azkaban was phenomenal, and his best effort in quite a while. These generic scores for the past two movies don’t cut the mustard, and leave the whole thing feeling as generic as they really are, which is a shame. The only good parts about them is Hedwig’s Theme, easily the best thing Williams has composed in a decade or more.

    The movie isn’t ALL bad. The new cast member in the form of Imelda Staunton is quite good. She understands and channels all of the sugary-sweet menace and ignorance of the book’s Dolores Umbridge and fills the role better than I ever thought she could. Plus, she’s a slight bit more attractive than I thought she would be after knowing her only from the DVD cover of that one movie where she plays the abortionist. Rowr.

    Also, the special effects are at their peak in this movie, with a finale with more dazzling special effects than I expected. I haven’t been wowed by Harry Potter’s effects in quite a while, so making me take notice of them took some doing. Kudos, guys. I’m hoping to see this at the local IMAX so I can get the 3D experience for the finale. The movie might be pedestrian, but it’s at least worth some 3D glasses.

    And again, summer movies give us a contemptible line spoken by a black man that in any other context would almost be considered racist. (Hey! He stole that guy’s PIZZA!) I mean, really. At least it wasn’t spoken by anyone with any established character or dignity.

    After all this, I’m desperately hoping that the franchise’s powers-that-be take a look at their track record and realize that Cuaron was the only one that gave them a movie that could stand on its own two feet and deliver us not a second-hand telling of the book, but a movie in its own right with a director’s personal style. Even though it was possibly the most egregious at leaving out necessary material, Prisoner of Azkaban felt like the most successful adaptation, maybe BECAUSE the book wasn’t inviolable holy script. They really need to get another director known for his or her personal style (NOT TIM BURTON) and attach him or her to the last two movies, or they’re gonna be as milquetoast and forgettable as this one. Harry Potter doesn’t deserve such a Cruciatus curse. :3

    Oh my, this comment was longer than Magus’ review! |:3

  2. Brian B Says:

    “And I don’t know why, except that the director, a TV movie veteran, really thought it would be artsy and cool. Except it wasn’t. It just frustrated me as I saw Harry placed mundanely on the edge with a bunch of empty space filling the rest. The most annoying time it did this was the Dumbledore/Voldemort fight. I wanna see the fight, not Harry and a bunch of wall!”

    I just got back from the movie, I have no idea what you are talking about.

  3. johnmora Says:

    BAH!

  4. Marc M Says:

    Way to screw up and have to retro 3 different things in the next film, HOLLYWOOD.
    Thats what you get for cutting so frakking much.

    The movie was a bit of a blur to me.

  5. (grumplet) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: SNOGGING « Grump Factory Says:

    […] Anyone who talks to me about the Harry Potter movies or read my rant in the comments section for Magus’ grumplet about Order of the Phoenix knows that I had a venomous dislike for David Yates, the man who had been handed the keys to the […]

  6. Andrew Pelt Says:

    fantastic movies. Have you watched Avatar yet by chance? Movie made me a little light headed but wow, what a great movie.

  7. Tim Torres Says:

    It all makes sense. Only spambots would enjoy Avatar.

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