I just finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix yesterday, and had fully expected to walk out of the theater tonight disappointed that the movie didn’t live up to the book. Luckily, I was wrong. While of course the movie didn’t contain every storyline and detail from the book (how could it?), it was still an excellent movie.
Once again, the casting was brilliant. Natalia Tena walked on screen, and I could have sworn Nymphadora Tonks had crawled out of my imagination. Professor Umbridge, wonderfully evil as she was, was another great casting choice with Imelda Staunton. The shining star of the new additions, however, was Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood.
The usual cast of characters is back, this time with the Weasley twins, Ginny Weasley, and Neville Longbottom working more closely with Harry, Ron, & Hermione than in the previous movies.
Voldemort is back, and is gathering an army. Dumbledore has re-formed the Order of the Phoenix from the original members of 14 years ago (including Mr. & Mrs. Weasley, Harry’s godfather Sirius Black, and the former Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and werewolf Remus Lupin). The kids are still too young to join the Order, and their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is a puppet for the Ministry of Magic. They are left to their own devices to learn how to properly defend themselves against the inevitable. Harry starts teaching the other students defensive spells and charms, since he is the only one with real-life experience using the spells.
While he’s busy teaching the students to defend themselves against Voldemort during the day, at night he’s having nightmares about a strange room with glass orbs. Each nightmare brings him closer to seeing what’s really in the room, until he sees something that pushes him into action. Along with Neville, Luna, Ginny, Ron, & Hermione, Harry rushes to save someone close to him.
The story is a slow build-up, and has less action than the other four movies. It also has zero Quidditch scenes. Several storylines were left out – as in the previous couple of movies, Hermione’s quest to free the house elves isn’t mentioned. Harry and Cho’s on-again-off-again relationship is minimized. The Weasley Twins’ joke shop also goes unmentioned, as does the plotline of Firenze the centaur becoming a teacher at Hogwarts.
Even without the missing stories, it’s a great adaptation. I have a hard time deciding if the movie itself makes sense to people who haven’t read the books. Luckily, MovieSnob Mike is strictly a movie guy when it comes to the world of Harry Potter, and he loved the movie too.
The special effects were excellent – especially the Patronuses and the end battle scenes. The thing that most impressed me, however, is how much Daniel Radcliffe has grown into himself as an actor. He started these films at 11-years-old – too young to know whether he really had talent. If Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire didn’t prove what a truly excellent actor he is, this movie will absolutely show the world that he will be able to have an impressive acting career after Harry Potter.
The one word of caution I will give is that you need to be a true Harry Potter fan, books or movies, to really appreciate this movie. There are too many underlying stories and relationships to be able to walk into this movie without knowing the world of Harry Potter and enjoy it. On the other hand, true Potter fans will see this as a well-done adaptation of the longest of the novels.
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