Sunday, July 15, 2007

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The latest installment in the "Harry Potter" series arrived in theaters last Wednesday, and I had the chance to take it in today. It was definitely NOT a disappointment - it was wonderfully crafted and a great adaptation of a very long novel.

I must admit, that the timing on the release of each film works to benefit them. Just enough time has elapsed since this book's publication, that I can really only remember the basics of the plot, and I'm sure this is true for most of the general public. This really works to the advantage of the filmmakers, because MOST viewers can't remember many of the minute details of the novel. Of course, the Potter fanatics will know that director David Yates and screenwriter Michael Gonldeberg have trimmed many small subplots.

The basic story: Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts School under a cloud of bad publicity, following the death of Cedric Diggory in the TriWizard Competition. The Ministry of Magic is trying to discredit reports of the return of Lord Voldemort, and are scapegoating Harry. Also arriving is the new teacher of Defense against the Dark Arts, Dolores Umbridge, whose been sent by the Ministry to take charge of affairs at Hogwarts.

The films have gotten darker and darker with each installment. I wondered about the many young children in the theater - most of the political undertones escaped them, I know, but many must have been very frightened by the film. Although a small ray of hope is shone during the closing scenes, the feeling of doom for our heroes is palpable.

The performances are terrific. It's amazing to look back at footage from the first film, and see how much the three principals have grown physically and talent-wise. Daniel Ratcliffe displays some real acting chops. His scenes with Gary Oldman could have shown some real weaknesses in his talent; instead, he proves worthy of competing with the veteran actor. The supporting cast? Well, since there is nary an acting lord or dame who hasn't appeared in the series (they still have a chance - there are two more films!), you expect high quality. I adore Alan Rickman as Snape, Jason Isaacs as Malfoy, Maggie Smith, and Emma Thompson. New to the series are scene stealers Helena Bonham Carter and Imelda Staunton as Umbridge.

The latest "Harry Potter" adventure is definitely not a disappointment. Satisfying for fans of both the books and the movies. As a matter of fact, I may have to pull out the last book and have another read, just to remember what happens next to young Mr. Potter.



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