Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003/2007)

Book

Written by JK Rowling

Rowling is a fantastic writer, but an even better imaginer. Her imagination is something of a wonder when it comes to the Harry Potter series. She is a worldwide treasure and should be known forever for her work on this series alone, whether she writes more of anything or not. True, this is very high praise, and maybe I am jumping to conclusions and building up to big for this particular book, but I also stand by it. Order of the Phoenix is an addictive read, just like the others in the series, but again, Rowling manages to make it unique and memorable in its own right, even if it is part of a larger, single story. Rowling brings in great new characters like Dolores Umbridge and Luna Lovegood and continues to build the foundation of all of the other characters, like Neville and Fred and George Weasley.

Once again she proves that from page 1 she knows exactly where the story is going and structures the book so beautifully that you really can’t help but put it down, even if this one gets quite frustrating at times. The frustration comes in the form of both the witch, literally, Dolores Umbridge and her antics, and with the emo qualities now on display by our leading man Harry Potter. Honestly, there were times I wanted to punch that kid in the stomach for the way he thought about things. He was such a frustrated, troubled, teenager who should have known better but couldn’t help himself to be an idiot sometimes. You have the romance with Cho, the dreams and subsequent occlumency lessons and of course the need to be in the know at all times because he was the one that had fought off Voldemort on three other occasions. But what makes it such a great book is the fact that despite all this frustration while reading it, I still couldn’t put it down and wanted to know where it was going.

The stakes is what makes it so great. Now we know Voldemort is on the loose and powerful again, yet the Ministry denies it, so what will happen? Something has to come to a boiling point, and it does in spectacular fashion. It is hard to measure this book with the others in the series because it is so frustrating, but it is a brilliant piece of literature, even if it is the longest book in the series, which is comforting now because when I say long, I mean looong.


 

Movie

Directed by David Yates
Written by Michael Goldenberg

Honestly, I don’t know if I had seen this movie more than once or twice before this viewing, but I don’t know why because it is pretty great. Once again we have a new director and this time it is pretty much first time director David Yates, which may have seemed like a peculiar pick at the time, but now, when all is said and done, he will have directed half of the series. I think the single most peculiar thing about this movie, however, is the runtime. I mentioned that it is the longest book of the series, well it is also the shortest movie, if that makes sense. But I will deal with that in the adaptation section of this review. So to the movie!

David Yates is a breath of fresh air. Him and his co-pilot in action editor Mark Day. These two make this film something of a wonder. Columbus was solid and got the job done, but it always seemed to me to be standard. Cuaron did a good job of making it his own and he had his own style that definitely worked, and Newell, well I don’t know what went wrong there. But Yates and Day create the wonderful world of Harry Potter. Their imagination and vision of the series is unique and I really bought into it. Day and Yates work together and create a couple of great montage scenes that are necessary in a film with so much source material. But Day also makes the film flow so beautifully. Yates has the world in his mind and exercises it for all of us to see. This is something that is solidified with Half-Blood Prince, but is obvious here as well.

Again the casting is phenomenal. Imelda Staunton as Umbridge is perfect. And if it is possible, Evanna Lynch makes Luna Lovegood and better than she was in the book. I loved Luna in the book, but Evanna’s performance definitely made me have a crush on her character. Her dreamy mannerisms and all the little things she does are great. Her skipping, her short conversations with Harry and her way of comforting him when Sirius dies are all fantastic. Oldman is Oldman, which is say great, as are the rest of the veteran cast. It just all goes by so fast, which I will continue to elaborate on here is a second.

Adaptation

So the difference between length in book and movie is amazing. There is so much that happens in the book that just can’t make it to the movie and I accept that. Like I said, I really liked the movie and the movie worked, but at the same time, taking the stance that you can’t separate the book and movie, which is something I don’t do, but here I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate, I would say the adaptation was awful. It’s a case of ‘what could have been’ more than ‘what was’. I like the movie a lot and truthfully find the adaptation to be fine. They make it work within a reasonable amount of time.

A friend of mine suggested the idea that they create the series into an animated series that would be able to cover everything in the imagination of Rowling. I think this is a great idea because Rowling infuses the story with so much stuff that is great to read and very enjoyable, but when put into movie form, there is only so much that is important enough to make the cut. Once again I don’t blame the screenwriter, he did the best job he could given the time constraints. I read the other day that they considered making the fourth movie into two movies. Honestly, I am glad they didn’t though. The seventh book is the only one I can see being able to maintain enough action to make two complete coherent movies. So even though the book is full of so much, I do not see it being a good two movies, but when put into just one, I greatly enjoyed myself. I guess what this installment proves is that anybody that enjoys the film series that has not read the books, should, because there is so much that doesn’t make it to the films that are equally great and fun.

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