Harry Potter review

Ok… seriously, I promise to get on track with doing this daily. Really I do. And adhering to the schedule I set for myself. It’s just a matter of doing so. I just have to get in the rhythm. But here’s the review for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. A contemplation on The Simpsons will come later today.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

2 stars

It’s hard to play a blame game as to why the fifth installment of the usually entertaining Harry Potter franchise has failed to live up to the standards set by the previous four films. The only thing that’s really changed is the director. I guess it’s not that hard to play the blame game after all.

Let me preface this in the same way I prefaced the review for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: I have not read the books. I read the first one, didn’t care for it, haven’t picked one up since. So my plot outline is based on the presentation in the film alone, not all the side plots from the book that didn’t make the final cut. This is a film review, so I am reviewing the film. OK, here we go.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has incurred the wrath of the Ministry of Magic after performing a magic spell in front of regular people, though in his defense, it was to ward of demons sent to kill him. Then he finds out about the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society formed to defend the world upon Voldemort’s return, members include Harry’s parents, Sirius Black, Snape, Dumbledore, the Weasleys, Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, etc.. Then Harry meets before the Ministry to decide his fate at Hogwarts Academy. They let him stay, but prudish member of the Ministry Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) decides she’s going to become a teacher there, to keep an eye on things at Hogwarts.

To explain everything as well as they did in the movie would be a practice in futility. It’s one convoluted mess. It’s like trying to listen to a goofy 50 year old Mid-Westerner try to tell a joke. “Oh wait, I forgot about this part, let me back up.”

The thing of the movies, and this goes for all cinematic adaptations of books, especially popular books, is that they are supposed to make people who have yet to read the books, care about the story, about the characters, as much as those who have read and loved the books do. Like I said, I haven’t read the books. Not my cup of tea. But the first four flicks made me care. I liked the story. For the 2 hours or so that I was in the theatre, or watching it on DVD in my living room, I was pulled in, I was engrossed by the story. It was an enjoyable experience for me.

I didn’t get that feeling from this one. And it’s David Yates’ fault. Or Michael Goldenberg’s. Goldenberg’s the screenwriter. Steven Kloves has done a fantastic job translating the previous four novels to the screen. And thank the god I don’t believe in he’s coming back for part six. Because Goldenberg’s script was just a muddled mess. Unfortunately we’re not spared Yates for the sixth installment.

I think everyone did their parts to the best of their abilities. They did the best with what they were given, and it wasn’t much. There were no stand-out performances. But to the credit of the entire cast and crew, they aren’t showing the signs of fatigue one would expect after six years and five movies. They go out and deliver with everything they’ve got, which is the mark of true dedication to the craft.

It was a convoluted mess of a movie that needs better writing, but above all else, a better director. Yates just wasn’t the right man for the job. I think if the producers want to go out with a bang on the seventh flick (and I’m sure they do), go with Guillermo del Toro or Alfonso Cauron. Not Tim Burton.

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