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Our First Review of HARRY POTTER & THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX Has Arrived!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I’m most interested to see Gary Oldman in this one. Loved him in the third, and this should be a chance to see him really rip it up. So far, the trailers are just a hint of what we’ll see, and I’m sure Potter fans are ready to see the whole thing. For now, this review, which hit my inbox while I was out of town, is going to have to do:

I should preface by saying there are a few mild spoilers, nothing that will ruin the film but if you want to go in completely unspoiled don’t read. If you want to know if your favorite part from the book was done well but don’t want too much detail it is safe. Approximately a week ago when I was purchasing tickets at AMC River East in Chicago, to see The Number 23 (not nearly as bad as many critics say by the way) I received passes for test screenings for two films. One film was the new Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard film The Brave One, the other was a secret. All it said was that it was a new holiday film from a major Hollywood studio and that it was geared more toward the younger audience. I am not the biggest fan of Jodie Foster’s mediocre run lately so I decided to see the latter film instead. Once we got in, a man announced they were excited for us to be the third audience anywhere to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Needless to say everyone went nuts. I was hoping this is what it was but the flyer said the film was PG and everyone seemed to think it was going to be Shrek 3, so I was pleasantly surprised. I am not a big Potter fan; I don’t like the way Rowling writes so I only read the second book in its entirety, and passed on the rest. I have however seen all of the films, which really only started getting really good with Cuaron’s “Azkaban,” which then was bested by Goblet of Fire in my opinion. The weakest of the series was without question Chamber of Secrets. So that’s where I stand in reference to the Potter franchise. The film was a success in many, in fact most, aspects. The acting is getting better and better and there were a few parts where Daniel Radcliff actually showed range. There really is no weak acting in the film and the standouts are Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, and of course Gary Oldman as Sirius Black. Imelda Staunton’s Umbridge is good but wholly annoying. The movie moves along at a good pace until about halfway through and then gets bogged down a bit for most of the rest of the film. It is not horribly slow but it does drag, with the current running time being approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes there is definitely some editing that could be done to make this problem disappear. Now I am going to get into some of what I marked on the card they ask you to fill out at the end of the screening. I was asked what parts I didn’t like. I put that I found most scenes with Umbridge in them were kind of slow and got tiring very quickly. I also found the scenes with Hagrid’s brother to be incredibly awkward and clunky, which in my opinion should be excised. What parts did I like? I loved the parts where Dumbledore’s Army was training, I really enjoyed the scene where Cho and Harry kiss, and there is a comment made by Ron shortly after that was hilarious and left the entire theater in stitches. Another scene I really liked was toward the end when Dumbledore and Voldemort battle. The effects were nowhere near finished causing this scene to be really awkward, but at a screening like this you have to be able to overlook the unfinished effects, and while the scene was not that long or anything it was done well and will no doubt look great. I love seeing wizards fight. A few other questions were which characters I liked the most which were Ron, Sirius, (which is a no brainer-Oldman is awesome) Luna, (as I understand it a lot of fans of the books were afraid of how her character would come off in the film, and she was my favorite character, so I guess they did something right. She was goofy and odd and a lot of fun and Evanna Lynch is probably the best of the child actors) and lastly Harry Potter. Radcliff seems like he knows what he is doing now and looks comfortable. Harry is not a slouch in this which I really liked because he comes off as being kind of a pussy in the other films even though he is supposed to be really powerful. In The Order of the Phoenix he is not yet some awesome wizard but he is kind of a badass. As I left the theater I initially felt that the film may have been as good as “Goblet” which as I mentioned I think is the best film. However something was bothering me about the film that I couldn’t quite put my finger on and then I realized what it was not much really happened. So yeah, I felt that not a whole lot happened, and this story could possibly have been squeezed into another film. Which is not to say it is boring, and there are some really good parts and it is not entirely unnecessary, I just felt that the lack of anything major knocks it down a bit in the ranks of the films. Another thing that bugged me was and this tells of the climax of the film so do not read the next paragraph if you don’t want to know… We have yet another Voldemort confrontation at the end where he is not completely defeated. This is getting tiring, I really hope this stops now, I am sick of the main villain showing up at the end and then not being completely defeated only say the same thing can happen again at the end of the next film. So if you liked the last two films style, you will like this. This film is not much different from the last entries in the series. I really appreciated the depth of Harry’s character in this, they actually give Harry something to do and he deals with some interesting things in a more real and rounded way. The character of Harry Potter is actually interesting in this film which makes up for some of the few mistakes in the film. Nothing was handled poorly in the film with the exception of Hagrid’s brother and possibly Umbridge’s scenes. I know you are not supposed to like her, but my god by ½ way through the film I dreaded seeing her on screen. This is something that could be fixed with editing though, and while I think a big part of the reason Hagrid’s brother played so poorly was because the effects at this point were understandably bad, to the point where there was almost no texturing or layering and no shadowing at all. I still think the film would benefit from doing away with him altogether. While I can’t say whether or not you will hate what they’ve done if you loved the books, I can say overall it was really good and enjoyable, though not necessarily the best in the series (this could possibly change when it is finished being edited and the effects shots are completed.) I am not an avid fan of the series, and I think the subject and mediocre writing of Rowling stops it from ever being an all around amazing series, and the Order of the Phoenix neither made me hate the series nor fall head over heels in love with it, but it was really good. This follows The Goblet of Fire making it the second best of the Potter films, which is saying quite a bit. B+ If you use this call me Rosncranz.
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