Tuesday 14 August 2007


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) dir. David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint


By Alan Bacchus

No introduction needed. It’s part 5, everyone knows what to expect now. The series is sailing at a competent speed, it’s not slowing down but not going faster either.

Continuing from the 4th film, Harry Potter is still shaken from his encounter with Voldimort – an encounter which saw the death of Cedric Diggory. The film opens, as always, in London in Harry’s regular home. Harry is approached by a couple of evil dementors (remember those cool ghost-creatures from Azkaban?). Harry uses a spell to ward them off, which is illegal in the Wizard world. Potter is put on trial by the Ministry of Magic, but is acquitted thanks to the testimony of Dumbledore. As a result Dumbledore and Potter are blacklisted by the Ministry for spreading accusations about Voldimort’s return. Something’s rotten in the State of Hogwarts…

I’m not a huge Potter fan, I haven’t read the books but have seen each film in the theatres. The series has flatlined for me. The introductory scenes with Potter’s family are quickly becoming sillier and sillier and are not in keeping with the more mature chapters of the series. And I’m still having trouble understanding the rules of the magic in the films. All genre stories establish their own rules. What can the characters do in terms of magic, what are their limits and what are their boundaries? My beef is the ending, when Dumbledore, Voldimort and Sirius Black seem to randomly ‘appear’ in the action when it’s convenient. Where were they, where did they come from? Were they watching the action somewhere and just decided to appear at that right moment? If the characters have the ability to ‘beam’ into any situation, where were they to help Potter in parts II, or II, or IV? And maybe I’m wrong, but the wizards always seem to be inventing spells to fit whatever threats comes at them.

I am continually disappointed with the lack of character development with anyone else but Potter. We haven’t learned anything new about Hermione or Ronald or Malfoy since Part II (which, for me, is the best of the series). There’s supposed to be a burgeoning relationship between Hermione and Ronald, but not an ounce of emotion is brought from either character. And this film even has less action to compensate.

The special effects were great in parts but dull and cartoonish in others. I was disappointed by the centaurs and that giant man-creature in the forest, which looked more Shrek-like than Potter-like. But, as mentioned, the battle of the wands finale was extraordinary, especially in IMAX 3-D. For once the technology enhanced the viewing experience. The last IMAX 3-D film I saw was “Superman Returns” whose 3-D scenes distracted me from the film. Now I can finally see the potential of the medium. Let’s just hope James Cameron can fix that annoying double-image problem with the glasses.

I was pleased to see Slawomir Idziak lensing this film. Idziak was one of Kieslowski’s frequent DOPs. His yellow and green style shows up in places, but it’s his ominous dark greys that dominate the film. It looks great.

I don’t think I was alone in my relative boredom with this film. Midway through, the audience was collectively distracted by some incredibly loud snoring in the theatre. Either the man needed a nap really badly or the series was waning for him too. Consider it an alarm bell for the producers to step it up. Enjoy.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I read the first Harry Potter book once the hype was in full bloom just to experience it and have an opinion. I thought it would be good, to an adolescent. I saw the first movie and thought it was an entertaining adaptation. I haven’t read any other Potter books nor seen other Potter movies. I decided to see this latest one since not much else was playing at the time. I was disappointed. I thought the movie was filmed well and the story seemed to flow quickly but I was pretty much confused throughout. A viewer would have to see the intervening movies, or have read the books, to keep up with the story and enjoy the movie. There were way too many short scenes that must have been significant to Potter fans but they left me wondering what they meant and why were they shown. It was like a shorthand version of the book where a shot would refer to a chapter. Obviously prior knowledge was required and that weakened the experience for me. Overall it seemed well acted and filmed with some neat effects.