Saturday, 14 July 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Another year and another Harry Potter film.

To be honest I’ve only seen all of previous films once (each in the cinema) and I haven't read any of the books. So you’ll get an idea of where I’m coming from, I’ve never really been a huge fan of the series but found each film fairly enjoyable to sit through. Though I was surprised at how much I enjoyed ‘Goblet of Fire,’ that was definitely the standout for me.

So with each film getting progressively better and darker, I was quite looking forward to this new instalment. The trailer after all made it look pretty impressive.

So how does this one stand up?

Well I’m going to say straight away I didn’t enjoy it as much as GOF. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very good and I found myself really getting into the last 20 minutes, I just didn’t think it was as exciting as the forth.

The film focuses very much on Harry (as opposed to the regular trio), if he’s not in a scene, it’s not in the film. I can imagine a lot was cut from the book and the film-makers decided to focus purely on his story. This puts all the other characters into the background, and they appear to have smaller supporting roles. Hermonie and Ron get a little bit left out; they’re in a lot of the film, but only if they’re standing next to Harry.

I suppose this is understandable it is Harry’s journey after all, but this time it’s much more a focus piece rather than an ensemble. It works for the story though, as after the death of Cedric in part 4, Harry is feeling very alone and this is conveyed effectively through the film.

All the cast and characters do a great job even if some are only in a couple of scenes; the acting (especially with the children) is getting better with each film.

The fight sequence at the end is definitely the highlight, a full-on wizard on wizard battle between groups of good and evil. This then leads into the climatic battle between Dumbledore and Voldermort, which again is top-notch (and is better than the wizard fights in LOTR). But it is a little annoying that Voldermort seems to appear at the end of each film, has a fight, leaves and then starts brewing his plan for next film. When will they stop him? Oh right, film seven.

Actually thinking back the ending was probably the only real action sequence in the whole film. There’s a little one at the start with two dementors in the real world, but it barely lasts two minutes. The flying sequence over London is also very impressive and seems even more special as we’re generally used to people flying over New York or LA. But it’s hardly an action sequence and is really just people travelling from A to B.

Despite the lack of action, the movie still moves at a brisk pace, I never found myself getting bored or feeling anything had been included unnecessarily.

There are some really cool establishing shots of Hogwarts, which reminded me of Lord of the Rings, which must be a combination of miniature and CGI work.

I especially liked the addition of Dolores Umbridge (played marvellously by Imelda Satunton), even if she is the most annoying person in the world. Her acting is stellar, and she is so believable in the role that every time she’s on screen I couldn’t help smiling as to how perfectly she plays the character. The sense of evilness that reeks from her, yet you can tell she believes she’s doing the right thing. Even when she tortures Harry by writing lines (that get inscribed in blood on his hand – cringe worthy), she still thinks it is for his own good.

Helen Boham Carter and Gary Oldman both put in excellent work again. That seems to be the great thing about these films, the cast is just perfect for roles (yes I know I haven’t read the books), but every character is believable, which in a world of such fantasy is important.

So top acting, great special effects and a story that moves at a brisk pace I really enjoyed this Harry Potter, just not as much as the last.


What about you? Any Harry Potter book fans like to share there views?

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