Sunday, July 15, 2007

Off-Topic Sunday: Harry Potter 5 Movie Review

Good evening, devout perusers. Dead horses are not worth beating, but for lack of a better introduction-there is nothing pertinent on the sports landscape. For lack of a better topic of discussion, then, I've prepared a review of the much-anticipated movie now out in theaters, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I realize that It's sort of a niche film, but so are most. And It's my blog, so shut up.

There are movies that are truly magnificent cinematic presentations, videos that captivate the audience with the quality of acting, writing, dramatic presentation, or plotline. There are also films that make their pretty penny by augmenting mediocrity with spectacular special effects. A third category is the film that entices viewers by promising the reenactment of a popular subject.

Unfortunately, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is not a dramatic masterpiece. It fulfills to the exact specifications the later two, however. Let us begin with the acting. Daniel Radcliffe, despite a substantial paycheck and plenty of experience, still portrays Harry Potter poorly. I don't think It's necessarily a case of Radcliffe being a bad fit for Harry, but I do think that Radcliffe is a bad fit for any role requiring him to do more than stand still. The producers seem to realize this as well as the rest of us; there are numerous situations where Harry has a well-fitting line handed to him on a silver platter, but instead cedes to another of the actors-almost as if those executives in charge of the film are wary of exposing his obvious lack of talent.
I am impressed with the performances of Harry's sidekicks Hermione and Ron, however. Emma Watson is one of those characters that truly fits the role as it was stated in the books, and Rupert Grint has grown into his. Alan Rickman is, as always, the quintessential embodiment of Professor Snape. I don't believe a better actor could have been found for the part. Imelda Stauton is a decent Dolores Umbridge, she certainly captures the repulsive spirit of 'Poisoned Honey' (as JK so aptly put it) to a tee.
The post of Dumbledore has seen much turmoil over the years, and until today I wasn't too happy with Michael Gambon's Dumbledore. He seems to have far improved his grasp of the role, however. He was less of the jovial, pompous buffoon with the beard, more of the world's most powerful Good Guy.
I've never been happy with Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, and my tune has changed very little. He's not the fierce, freedom-infatuated, occasionally feral in more ways than one Godfather that we all continue to love through his existence in the deathly plane. He's too tacit, lethargic to be Sirius. He was at least able to convey his love for Harry, however, and that's a bit of a saving grace.

The special effects are predictably impressive. The skeletal thestrals are well done, Grawp the giant certainly lived up to massive expectations, and there was little at fault with the fleeting centaur scenes (other than their newly acquired inability to converse). The battle between the Heavily Bearded Mentor Soon To Die and His Evil Student From Years Past Turned Worthy Hated Adversary was terrific, truly one of the most impressive scenes of its kind that I have seen.

The writing was dissimilar from what I expected, but altogether not that bad. There was an inordinate amount of deviation from the lines in the book, but the replacements were for the most part passable. (My favorite line: As Umbridge is being harassed by Grawp and his friendly centaur companions, "Harry! Tell them I mean no harm!" 'I'm sorry, professor... I must not tell lies.')

The theme of the story was represented well. The fifth tale was meant to herald a second reign of darkness, and the film did that well. If Radcliffe did anything well, it was portraying a dark side when inhabited by or sharing the emotions of Voldy.

All things considered, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a step up from its predeccesors. It took the necessary step forward and laid some solid groundwork for the next two films.
Final Grade: 7.5/10.

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