Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This is my thoughts on the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Be warned: there are spoilers ahead!
I tend to have mixed feelings about Harry Potter movies at the best of times: as a huge fan of the books it saddens me to see all those hundreds of pages being converted into a shorter than 3 hour movie. I try to look at the movies as highlights from the books but the last few have made that difficult as so much has required modification to make the plot flow.
Order of the Phoenix is, in itself, not a great movie. The story has been compressed so much that the action tends to move rapidly between scenes without much sinking in or creating much of an emotional impact. Things which took months in story-time and quite a while to read are glossed over in minutes. Whilst this sometimes works, I think in Phoenix some more needed to be done to create a cohesive whole. Some things which were explained at length in the book were actually omitted in the movie, which in a couple cases rendered things incomprehensible.
Example: The climatic scenes of the story feature Harry being tricked by Voldemort into retrieving a prophecy from the Department of Mysteries. This is the same in both mediums. What is not the same is that the movie never actually explains why Voldemort wanted the prophecy in the first place. Lucius Malfoy is telling Harry that the prophecy will tell him why his parents were killed, why he has his scar, etc. This makes it seem as though the Death Eaters already know what the prophecy is. In the book this is not the case as Voldemort had only heard part of the prophecy, which is why he wanted to hear the rest.
Stylistically, the movie continues on from the last one in that it's more of a basic presentation. By this I mean the movies don't have the wonder and spectacle of the first two (directed by Chris Columbus) nor the luscious visuals of the third (directed by Alfonso Cuarón). I think the Phoenix presentation does follow the tone of the book fairly accurately, which is good. The fight scene at the end is very impressive and the special effects throughout are great as always. I do wish the Weasley twins' fantastic flight from Hogwarts was done a bit better: it just didn't seem to be all that impressive.
The film does add some nice things, in particular the fleeting looks of disappointment on Ginny's face as Harry stumbles through his relationship with Cho. Something I think all fans of the series would have been delighted to see as it foreshadows the next movie. Although I should say that the movie never explicitly has Ginny going out with Michael Corner but the two are seen sitting next to each other in what is to become the first DA meeting.
Overall, I did like the movie and it does fly by so quick that even the "boring" bits don't upset your viewing too much. Perhaps my greatest problem with the film is not the fault of the film at all: I had read the book again the day before I saw the movie so everything was fresh in my mind and begging for comparison. Oh well, I just wonder how they're going to go with the next one!