Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Short But Sweet
| Everyone knows that the best Star Trek films are the even numbered ones. Now it seems that popular opinion will soon say that it’s the opposite for the Harry Potter films. When it comes to the wizards, it’s the odd numbers that are magical.
Order of the Phoenix, while not as much fun as Prisoner of Azkeban, is a much more satisfying ride than the last film, Goblet of Fire. One of the problems these films have is the way that they try to squeeze Rowling’s overly growing mythology complete with subplots, background, history and the kitchen sink, into a standard movie length. The best films of the series manage to focus on Rowling’s main strength, telling a good story. The worst get bogged down in all the rest.
The story here remains fairly concise and relatively short. The film is cohesive and this keeps the film moving along at a nice pace. I admit it would be impossible for a newbie to come along and understand what is going on. There is just too much backstory that the film doesn’t get into that needs to be understood to follow the story. For those of us who have seen the other films, or read the books, it’s a good movie even if some parts are given short shrift. ie. What the hell happened to the girl Harry shares his first kiss with?
A special treat is Imelda Staunton as the prickly Dolores Umbridge. She is wonderful. However, maybe due to the relatively brief length of the film, most of the regular cast is left to the side. Only Harry gets to shine. This is the film which most focuses on Harry. Even Hermoine and Ron get sidelined.
This is probably the first Harry Potter film that I wouldn't recommend ensuring you see on the big screen. Maybe it's that we've already ooo'd and ah'd at every corner of Hogwarts and seen every magic trick there is, but I was never dazzled by the effects or the scenery in Phoenix. The climax scene in a chamber of crystal balls was quite effective but would probably maintain the intensity on a smaller screen as well. If you can wait for DVD you won't miss out on a thing.
It is the economy of this film which is its strength. It really does just move the plot along. He who must not be named is still just in the background even though he does appear more and more. He is emerging and I imagine that the last films will be the most satisfying as they will finally get to the meat of the whole story.