Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, Movie

WARNING: If you have not read the book or seen the movie, this post contains spoilers about plot, etc.

Ok, now this is my favorite (so far) of the Harry Potter books. Needless to say I was anxious to see how the movie compared. My worries were for nothing. It was just as good as the trailers led me to believe.

1) Sirius Black's death: In the book, Bellatrix pushes him into the veil and is very clearly at fault for intentional homicide. The movie makes it seem like he just fell in accidentally during the fighting.
2) Ginny's Harry Smack-down: While I understand they couldn't include everything, this to me was an important reminder about Ginny's past and would have added some weight to some of the scenes at Grimmauld Place.
3) Neville's Parents: I missed the scene at the hospital where we see how broken the Longbottom's were by their torture. I missed seeing Neville's reaction. The conversation they did include was an OK substitute but it left people who haven't read the books with the impression the Longbottoms were dead.

10 Things They Got Completely Right:
10) The Daily Prophet Transitions - Fantastic way to both get rid of some exposition & move from scene to scene.
9) The Twins Exit from Hogwarts - No swamp but they really didn't need it. The fireworks destroying all the proclamations was visually stunning.
8) Neville Awww! - Matthew Lewis has done a very good job over the course of the movies portraying and here, he outdoes himself. He conveys Neville's hesitation but also his heroic spirit. Excellent.
7) Bellatrix Lestrange - Helena Bonham Carter was every bit as bat-shit crazy and vicious as I imagined when reading the books.
6) Background Inclusions - From the goat at the Hogshead to Grawp to the Inquisitorial Squad, Yates managed to pack a ton of little things in without taking up time & dialogue doing it. This really made it seem like less was cut from the book. I am curious to see how this skill is applied to the 6th movie.
5) The Trio Acting Together - Before the movie was released, I heard an Emma Watson interview where she mentioned Yates was the first director to really play up the relationship between the Trio. She was right. Ron & Hermione were especially fantastic. And Daniel Radcliffe was absolutely fantastic.
4) Everybody Else Acting - The entire ensemble was utilized in every scene they were in. I think Yates may be the first director to so noticeably expect them to perform in the background and to hit very specific notes. Every single scene with the DA, in the common rooms, and classrooms everyone was noticably improved even with the camera wasn't on them. Bonnie Wright especially did brilliantly.
3) Battle At The Ministry - Perfect. I loved how spooky it was, how obviously out-classed the kids were, how Lucius & Bellatrix tag-teamed them with the evil and how original a wizarding battle looked. If the battle for Hogwarts in HBP is half as good, I'll be satisfied.
2) Luna Lovegood - Perfect look. Dead-on voice. She hit it out of the park with every scene she was in and got some of the best lines of the movie.
1) Umbridge - This movie would not work if Umbridge wasn't just as evil, sanctimonious and viscerally repugnant as in the book. This movie did work because Imelda Staunton exceeded even my most ambitious expectations. She was deluded, bureaucratic, controlling, and god help her, pink.

So, on the whole good movie & excellent book-to-movie transition. Based on this installment, I'm very glad David Yates will be returning to direct Year 6.

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