Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The irresistible force that is PotterWeek+ kicks off the second half with the fifth chapter of the epic fantasy series. If this is the first you’ve seen of the series, you might want to begin with the prior installments in the series. Here are the First, Second, Third, and Fourth reviews.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in JK Rowling’s series, it introduces a host of new characters, pushes the established characters in entirely new directions, and generally serves as the jumping-off point for the series’ epic endgame. So naturally the film adaptation has the shortest running time of any of the books.
Therein lies the problem.
This time around the film gets a new director in David Yates and, for the first time in the series a new screenwriter in Michael Goldenberg. Yates would stick around for the remainder of the series, but it would be Goldenberg’s only contribution.
The film’s major fault is that in adapting the lengthy and exposition-heavy novel to just over two hours on the screen we’re left with a film that will leave those who aren’t familiar with the books baffled by a weird ending, and those who are familiar annoyed at the absence of many great moments.
If I can get ahead of myself for a moment here; one of the best decisions that the producers of the film series made was splitting book seven into two films, it may have been motivated in large part by crass commercial considerations, but it worked creatively as well. Apparently, this was considered as early in the series as ‘Goblet and while I can see how that story would have been difficult to break in two, I can’t for the life of me understand why ‘Order wasn’t made into two movies.
The film does do a great job of presenting one of the book’s major themes; that in the face of real danger, sometimes the biggest obstacle can be the well-meaning but self-centered government nincompoops with no understanding of the real problem.
Unfortunately, there’s so much additional material left out that the complex and mysterious final act comes across as a rushed and confusing jumble.
‘Order is a fairly satisfying movie, but it has a log of problems. There’s probably more I could say about this movie than any of the one’s I’ve reviewed thus far in the series.
Based on the terrific cast, and illuminating story it’s Worth Seeing.
[Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) – Director: David Yates – Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images]