Movie #3--that pesky Potter

Continuing our trend of short movie reviews (see last post for Bourne and Becoming Jane), it's time to address Harry Potter #5--Order of the Phoenix. Now, I know many big Harry fans, and I have seen all the movies so far and actually read the first two books. I have not read this book, however, so I am writing this critique purely of the film, as if the book was never written (although I suspect a fairly high percentage of film goers read the book). Why am I prefacing this review with so many boring disclaimers? Because, overall, the movie was pretty average, if not poor. The film had some amazing and well-done visuals, and the fight scenes were very cool, however the plot was horribly under-developed. I expect that the book, which I understand to be a long one, had the opportunity to provide so much more support that was lacking in this film version. Even the subtitle namesake organization, the "Order of the Phoenix," was nothing of particular interest to the story as of now (my guess is it will play a larger role later). The first 30 minutes of the film are incredibly dull, with little going on to pull the moviegoer in. Oh, scary, Harry may get expelled! Who cares, we all know that isn't going to happen and we never fear for his well being either since we know there are more films to come. It appears that this movie moved the Harry plot along and gave some decent back story, which should make #6 and #7 great, but it did little to add to the excitement of this film and made it very disappointing. I really couldn't recommend the movie to anyone that hadn't already read the book. I do like how the films have gotten darker and more mature as Harry himself has matured. I did enjoy disliking Dolores Umbridge in her pink perverseness, and the actress did a superb job of making her incredibly annoying. I also am hoping Helena Bonham Carter's crazy Azkaban-escapee makes a future appearance because she was horribly underutilized (despite getting to kill Harry's godfather). Also, the film left me with many questions since things were awkwardly used: if the other children couldn't see the flying horse/dragon things because they hadn't seen death yet, then how the heck did they ride them to London? A simple shot of Ron riding one where it was invisible to him would have been cool and solved that problem. When Sirius is killed, he get sucked into some gate...what is that thing (never explained)? And can we get a little better CG for when the kids are standing on the awkward sky bridge at Hogwart's? Those scenes look as real and seamless as the comical green screen shots of Conan O'Brien driving his late-night desk through New York City. Overall, 140 minutes spent for only about an hour of decent movie, and the weakest Harry film to date.

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