Just so everyone knows where I stand in terms of the Harry Potter movie franchise: PoA disappointed me while CoS was on top of my list.
I was filled with much apprehension as I entered the cinema to watch the fifth installment of Harry Potter having seen from past experience and heard from early reviewers what a disappointment this one would also prove to be. However, I told myself to withhold judgement until I watched it for myself. It was fortunate that I did so as I came out of the cinema loving this movie above the rest.
David Yates did a brilliant job as director which I thank the heavens for as he'll also be directing Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince'. He bought the storyline together seamlessly and effortlessly without the huge chunks of story blocks we have seen in previous films, this was a great achievement considering the length and detail of the book.
Of course, many storylines were missing but this unfortunately cannot be helped. To be honest, this film was done so well that I hardly noticed the bits that were missing. A few plots have also been changed but this too was done for the greater good and it did help the storyline flow along better as well as reducing the time. For instance, it was Cho Chang who tipped off Umbridge about the DA's whereabouts under the influence of Vetraserum. This more than anything, demonstrated Umbridge's abuse of power and the extent she was willing to go to bring Hogwarts under her control more so than it did in the book.
One of the things I was extremely worried about in the fifth film was the Sirius and Harry storyline as GoF seem to have left their relationship rather bare leaving Yates with nothing much to work with. However, the emotional tie between godfather and godson was overwhelming as the family connection was truly palpable and left me nothing short of sobbing when Sirius died. Speaking of Sirius, one of the things I did miss was the animosity between Sirius and Snape which I had hoped would come into play. Unfortunately, Alan Rickman's screen-time was extremely short though worthwhile with his Occlumency scenes with Daniel Radcliffe.
The Ministry of Magic was superb, from the Visitor's entrance (i.e. telephone booth) to the Floo networks. Cornelius Fudge succeeded in making me fume at his ignorance with his sanctimonious attitude
and when he finally uttered the words He's back, practically everyone in the cinema went Duh! although he was definitely more a sight than one Dolores Umbridge.
In terms of acting, Imelda Staunton was nothing short of frightening in her role as Umbridge, the tyrannical witch taking over Hogwarts using the most absurd Educational Decrees'. She was hated on first sight, from her hem hem' and little laughs to her sickenly sweet and condescending nature. Staunton definitely gets a thumb up for bringing such a horrible character to life (I actually find her scarier than Voldemort!)
Newcomer Evanna Lynch was a breath of fresh air as whimsical Luna Lovegood, from her radish earrings to her dreamy nature. She was fantastic and made me love her more than the book did. There seem to be an unspoken connection between her and Harry in a way in which she seem to understand him more than anybody else. One of their best scenes was when she introduced him to the Thestrals. She was calm and unassuming as she described to Harry what his push for isolation would ultimately lead him to in the hands of Voldemort
allowing Harry to see that he was stronger as a team with Ron and Hermione (and before you get the wrong idea, no, I do not believe that Harry and Luna would get romantically involved
the ships already sailed for Harry and Ginny^.^).
The trio's performance still continues to improve and grow. Above all, I must applaud Daniel Radcliffe for his fantastic acting, he has definitely grown the most out of all three of them and it shows in here. He bought out the frustration Harry experienced from being the black sheep, his turmoil and fears about Voldemort's connection, the longing to belong in a family, his belief that he's alone in the warfront
it was practically a flawless performance (to me anyway). His silent grief when Sirius fell through the archway was heart-shattering (far better than the dry sobs in PoA which made my grimace and look away)
the pain was raw and real enough to make me cry. His possession by Voldemort was another superb scene, making the audience gasp with horror as he writhed on the floor and fought to overcome Voldemort's hold on him. It could have been made corny or extremely fake but it was far from it and I found myself glued to the screen and subconsciously egging Harry to fight on even though I've read the book and knew what would happen. All I have to say is that Daniel Radcliffe has definitely made his mark as an actor.
Rupert Grint had much more to do in this film as Ron Weasley rather than being the comical sidekick. The writers have finally decided that Ron has grown up and has lost the passiveness that has so become him since the first film, he no longer looks like he's going to wet his pants at a moment's notice. This definitely gives Rupert a wider horizon to act upon as he shows his support for his best friend, even in the worst of conditions. I loved him more than ever in this film.
I don't have much to comment on with Emma Watson; she has thus far being pretty consistent in her acting as the intellectual Hermione Granger and has always being, in my opinion, one of the most mature child actors. Her motherly nature carried on from GoF as she tries to get Harry to understand they are together as a team: When are you going to get it into your head: we're in this together! You can also see her maternal side when confronted with Grawp
a hilarious and sweet scene in which you seriously are delusional if you don't think Ron and Hermione are going to get together (no offence!).
As for the adult actors
Michael Gambon still fails to impress me in his role has Dumbledore. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing his acting but he seems to fail to grasp the character itself. From reading the books, Dumbledore gives me the impression of kind and gentle wizard, calm even in the toughest storms but with a great unspoken aura of power around him. Perhaps I am biased towards his predecessor, Richard Harris but Michael Gambon has never denied the fact that he knows nothing about the Harry Potter books and while I do no think it necessary for it to be a requirement, it would seem to be a necessity if he would at least understand his character rather than going off the scripts. He failed to emit the sense of power and serenity in the film; instead, he spent more than half of the film looking despondent and defeated, not really a picture that inspires confidence. Unlike the book, he doesn't exude any sort of care towards the students (kind of hard seeing as how he physically abuse his students in GoF
sorry, can't help bringing that up)
making his words to Harry at the end up of the film almost unbelievable. I am now seriously concerned as to how they're going to pull of Half Blood Prince', let's just hope that David Yates surprises us.
Jason Issacs is deliciously evil as Lucius Malfoy. He mentioned previously that he loves playing this evil villain and it shows
making Michael Gambon should take a leaf out of his books. Helena Bonham Carter is also brilliant as the deranged Bellatrix Lestrange, from her actions, expression to the way she speaks. I definitely look forward to seeing more of her in future series. Ralph Fiennes pulled off another brilliant performance as Voldemort.
Gary Oldman totally proved me wrong with his performance as Sirius Black. I didn't really find him believable in PoA, finding him way too crazy for my liking (even after being locked up in Azkaban) but I LOVED him in OotP, finding him absolutely believable as Harry's godfather. He's got the caring and mischievous nature of Sirius down pact and I was whooping with joy when he appeared behind Lucius and said Get away from my godson! before punching him. It also made his death even more unbearable to witness *sob*.
Now, onto the parts which brought down the film a bit (and I'll try not to be too picky):
- I liked the dementors in PoA more than the bald uncloaked ones here
it was too off tracked from the description in the books.
- I did not like Arabella Figg (played by Kathryn Hunter), the acting was too weak to be made believable. While in the book, Figg is a bustling and slightly hysterical old lady, the one in the film was too mundane and monotonous for my liking.
- Grimmauld Place: the entrance was a complete disappointment, forgoing the entire Secret Keeper plot and using Moody's stick instead
makes me wonder how the others manage to get in. Not to mention the fact that 12 Grimmauld Place is suppose to be a manor, not a narrow apartment!
- Snape's memory scene was completely cut down so that we barely got a glimpse of him and the Marauder's
I was really looking forward to that too.
- As I mentioned before, Gambon's Dumbledore still doesn't strike a cord with me
neither in fact does David Thewlis' Lupin which I'm completely heartbroken about as he's one of my favourite characters. Fortunately, he didn't show up as much here. Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley) I almost didn't notice and while I knew he was Junior Undersecretory to Fudge, this wasn't explained in the film and may have puzzled quite a few people.
- What I was most disappointed in, however, was the end conversation with Dumbledore and Harry which was completely cut to a bare minimum. The explanation was brief, short and completely and utterly unsatisfactory. It barely tells of the prophecy and how it came across and why Dumbledore was forced to avoid Harry the entire time and how Harry overcame Voldemort's possession. I really hope that movie-only viewers would read through the book as it will provide a much more worthwhile explanation.
Overall, I found Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix powerful and compelling where the trio's relationship finally come into play as they come together to support each other and fight as a team. David Yates, David Heyman and the team did an awesome job bringing the book to life, making it feel more like a movie
I'm really glad to hear they are really taking to heart the thing the fans say.