Today’s movie review is written by my Harry Potter loving wife, Donna. To give you a taste of her fandom, she received HP7 the Saturday it was released at 5pm and finished it less than 12 hours later, around 4:30 am Sunday morning. Book 5 was released one month after we were married. For the few days following the book’s release, I thought Donna married the wrong guy with a big scar on his forehead. She re-read books 1-6 in a week before book 7 was released. She re-read books 1-5 before book 6 was released. Her review does not contain any blatant spoilers for books 6 and 7, but it does speak vaguely about their outcomes.
This past weekend I finally went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I am a huge fan of all of the Harry Potter books, but have yet to be inspired by any of the previous four Harry Potter movies. I had heard very good reviews about the 5th movie and went in with a very positive attitude. As in the previous 4 movies, I walked away very disappointed.In the previous four movies my biggest complaint was the lack of character development in the movies that came with trying to capture as much of the plot from the book as possible. The movies stuck with the storyline and never came close to capturing the magic of each book. With the most recent 5th movie, they tried something new, straying from the storyline and trying to invigorate some new magic for the audience. Unfortunately they completely missed it. The only character they really developed in this movie was the newest character, Dolores Umbridge.
I loved what they did with her character and really felt they brought her to life. I detested her in the book and actually hated reading about her character, but in the movie found myself fascinated by her. She seemed so much more complex, and strangely alluring. I wondered if those unfamiliar with the books would immediately recognize how evil she really is. What I can not figure out, is why they only developed this one character. She is not a main character in the context of the entire 7-part story and barely shows up even in the 7th book.
Why not develop the other characters that we will follow for two more films? I can only imagine that it had something to do with the main characters limited acting abilities. While they have developed significantly over the years, they still fail to draw you in to their characters and fail to make you empathize with there situation.
For all of these limitations, what upset me the most was the ending. It seemed as if the story could have ended here in the 5th movie. Where the book shows how young Harry still is at only 15, and how he is struggling to deal with very adult life situations way too early, the movie gives him the wisdom of a grown man and makes him conquer Voldemort through “his knowledge of love” and deal with the aftermath with patience and understanding. Where is the aggression, where is his rage? It just didn’t fit. Harry won’t grow into the man portrayed in the 5th movie until the end of book 7. The 5th book left me in tears, feeling horrible for Harry and wild with anticipation for the next book. This movie left me feeling flat and truly disappointed.
One note that I feel is necessary. I watched the movie with three friends. Two had just finished book 5 and have not read 6 and 7. The other has read all seven books. I have read all 7 and have read books 1-6 more than two times each. The two friends who just finished book 5 for the first time really liked the movie. My other friend hated the movie as much as I did. Maybe knowing the rest of the story detracts from the movie, I don’t know. The genius of Rowling is her ability to weave a story through 7 books tying in little pieces from the previous books. The movie fails to incorporate the important details. Some of my “oh my gosh” moments when reading have to do with my amazement to what Rowling brings back from earlier books. If details are missing from the movies (i.e. R.A.B. and Sirius’s mirror), you can’t experience these amazing moments of true genius.