Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Film Review
My husband and I got out to see our first movie in god knows how long today. This guy has refused to read any of the books, yet loves the movies so much that the moment they come out he's like a kid, "Can we go? Can we go? Huh? Huh? Can we go now?" I've told him to just READ THE DAMN BOOKS if he wants to know what happens (he devours books, so it's not like he's not a reader) but he'd rather watch it unfold on the screen.

This is one of my favourite books of the series. The last film, I thought, had to cut out WAY too much to bring it down to anything less than 5 hours, and despite the awesome special effects, the movie didn't do much for me. This one, on the other hand, did. I thought the balance between what was left in, but truncated -- the Occlumency lessons, Harry's horrific detentions, the DA meetings -- and what was taken out -- scenes in the Ministry of Magic, the High Inquisitor's students trying to take out the DA, pretty much everything about Lupin, Luna Lovegood's father -- actually worked, and despite other films, where my husband comes out and says, "So... what was that stag on the shoreline supposed to be?" that wasn't explained because the filmmaker assumed the viewers had all read the books, director David Yates really seemed to cater to both audiences in this one.

The highlight in the film for me (as is often the case) was Alan Rickman as Snape. This guy is gold. The scene where he faces off against Harry and just sneers through a barely opened mouth was great, and I often find myself grinning stupidly whenever he's talking.

My friend Fionna held a Harry Potter party in 2003 and I had just read the book, and showed up dressed as Umbridge, complete with a pink sweater, purple robes, giant bow on my head, and a clipboard where I wrote out educational decrees and came up behind people, interrupting their conversations with a "hem hem" just to be super annoying. So I have a special place in my heart for her, and while I originally thought Patricia Routledge would have been PERFECT in the role, I thought Imelda Staunton pulled it off brilliantly. She was absolutely spot-on, from the hem-hem's, to her sweetly sipping tea while torturing children, to being just a slight bit off through the entire film (my husband at the beginning thought she was supposed to be insane). :)

It's over 2 hours long, but unlike some of the other Potter films (Chamber) doesn't feel like it.

I'm currently 200 pages into Book 7 -- I should be further, but I swear every time I find a second to open it up my toddler jumps on me and yells, "Mommy mommy, do the Chicken Little story!" before pointing to the cover of the book and saying, "Who's that?" "That's Harry Potter." "Who's that?" "Those are his friends, Hermione and Ron." "Why?" "Why what?" "Why are they his friends?" "Because they, um... clicked when they first met, and now they're all heroes." "Why?" "Because Harry has often saved the world." "Why?"

It pretty much goes on like that for 15 minutes. And then I have to go do laundry or get her a snack or something. So I'm hoping to read more tonight and I'll post a full review later this week (with spoiler warnings where applicable). So far: Loving it.

Update: I thought of this after I posted this, but there's a scene at the end of the film where the final battle takes place, and it's so amazing that I leaned over to my husband and said, "Wow... I hope Tim Kring sees this and realizes how Sylar and Peter's fight should have played out!"


Steve & Megan said...

Alan Rickman is perfect as Snape, but leaves me somewhat confused. You see, in my mind, Snape's not supposed to be appealing at all.

The Chapati Kid said...

Love Alan Rickman.
Just finished the book myself at 5 pm and posted on it. No spoilers. But a great read. My eyes couldn't move as fast as my fingers wanted to turn the pages.
Steve & Megan: if you've read the third, fourth, and etc. books, you'll see why Snape's not as cut-and-dried as he seems.

Nikki Stafford said...

Steve & Megan: LOL! I know what you mean; there are times when I'm watching and thinking, "Um... I don't think I'm supposed to be thinking Snape is as sexy as I think he is." :)

Chapatikid: I know; that's my only complaint about the book, is that I just can't read as quickly as I'd like to. My eyes can't move as fast as I want them to.

Chris in NF said...

There's a term now film studies, in adaptation theory, called the "Darcy effect" -- referring to those performances in filmic adaptations of novels where the actor's portrayal is so brilliant you can never return to the novel without imagining him/her as the character. As the name suggests, it refers to Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the BBC Pride and Pejudice.

I think we can also now call it the "Snape effect." Damn he's good. Even in the flashbacks where we see the young Snape, I still hear Rickman's voice.

I agree, Nikki, with your eval of the film -- I was amazed at how well they turned the longest novel of the series into the shortest movie, and did it with such dispatch. "Goblet" felt like it left so much out, but "Phoenix" was a model of economic storytelling. And I was so much sadder (speaking of the Darcy effect) seeing Sirius die in the film than in the novel, entirely because I'll miss Gary Oldman.

And for the record: I purchased the Deathly Hallows at 2:30 saturday afternoon .. promptly went to the Order of the Phoenix's 3:30 showing ... and completed Hallows at noon on sunday.

But then, I don't have a toddler. With great motherhood comes great responsibility. ;-)

Nikki Stafford said...

Chris: Oh man, I'm SO jealous of how fast you're reading it. As soon as I'm done (and I hope that's really soon) I'm going to post on it and we can all have a spoilery chat about it. :)

And wow, I didn't say anything about Sirius's death, but you are SO right; I felt the same way, and assumed I was alone! I was almost in tears when Oldman went through the veil, and when I read the book I wasn't as torn up about it. I heart Gary Oldman SO much.

Chris in NF said...

God love Rosencrantz.