Harry Potter & the Order of Blahness

I’m a bit underwhelmed by the latest installment to the Harry Potter movie franchise. It’s not hideous or anything, mind you, I just feel that it lacks something. Coherence? Flow? Depth? Or magic, perhaps? For me, the whole film is enveloped in total blahness. Even the opening billboard and closing credits are uninspired. It’s probably “good enough” for a Potter film, but it’s far (very far) from being the best one. I still feel that the third one—Alfonso Cuarón’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”—is still the best of the lot, followed closely by Mike Newell’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Now I’m not sure which one I hate (dislike, actually… hate is such a strong word) the most–the first one or the Order of the Phoenix.

Okay, okay, it has its redeeming qualities: the costume design is superb (I love, love, LOVE Serius Black’s/Gary Oldman’s velvet jacket. And his hair is fabulous! He’s my fave, as you can see), the fight scenes are entertaining (but not true to the book), Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood is endearing (maybe a tad too much, though), Imelda Staunton’s Dolores Umbridge is kitschy-perfect (but not toad-like as in the book), and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort is brilliantly captivating (he makes use of his little screen time incredibly well, yet again). The story is Harry-centric so Daniel Radcliffe has to carry the film practically on his own and he pulls it off, albeit there are glitches in his performance. I blame the scriptwriters and the Director for this, though. He can only do so much with the material that was given to him. He was in pain most of the movie, but I didn’t get the impression that he felt like he was turning evil until he spoke to Serius Black about it. And the snake biting scene was not at all menacing.

The other stars in the cast—Alan Rickman (my other fave, Severus Snape), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney), etc, etc.—are criminally underused and are hardly seen at all. The two main characters—Harry’s best buds—Ron Weasly (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are, unfortunately, demoted to bit roles and are kept in the background. You’d miss them if you go for a bathroom break. Helena Bonham Carter (who knew she only had a few lines so she had to be “conspicuous.”) as Bellatrix Lestrange is eye-catching, but maybe for the wrong reasons. She should be more scary than demented, I think. A bit drag queenish, but still fabulous, though (well, I personally like her because weird roles suit her so she can do no wrong in my book).

The novel is probably the weakest of the series so even from the start it was already a challenge for director David Yates to translate this to film. He cuts out a lot of things from the book, which, on one hand, is good because it makes for a faster paced film, but, on the other, it is also bad because the already fragmented storyline becomes even more frayed at the edges. I am not against deleting and editing parts of the book (hello, I haven’t got all day to watch the movie!), but since they cut out so much of the storyline, they should have at least sewed it back together in a coherent and effective manner. Didn’t Yates watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy? I got the feeling that he just wanted to bridge one scene to the next, racing from one frame to another, and ultimately get to the ending so we can all see the first public appearance of Lord Voldemort. It really felt as if he was skipping all over the place to get to the end and move on to the meatier “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” It was one hell of a jaunty ride. I didn’t like being pushed at all.

The cinematography, I am so sorry to say, is non-existent. If the plot is not strong then give me something pretty at least. They have a la Cuarón-like moments—for example, when Harry, Hermione, and Ron were walking towards the Hog’s Head and the camera phases through the window and follows them inside—but most of the shots are not memorable. I’ve heard that a lot of people say that this was the darkest one of all and yet I did not get that feeling at all. It’s just too bad that Yates is directing the next one, though. I want Cuarón or Guillermo del Torro or, if they want a Brit to man the helm, Newell! They would probably have a better vision for the 6th installment of the series. Yates should take a breather and let the story unfold at its own pace otherwise he will lose track of the main arc and storyline.

I can whinge on and on about “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (it doesn’t leap out and grab you by the neck or it’s indistinct and a bit forgettable. I cannot be passionate about it. Ever), but at the end of the day I think it still serves its purpose: to act as a bridge and bring us to the last leg of the journey. Now we can move on to the next! Fans will bicker because this and that was not shown or this and that was distorted, but they will have to accept it as as part of the series—the lowest part, but still part of the franchise. They’ve trekked on the Harry Potter road this far, so they might as well stick it out till the end. That’s what I’m going to do.

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2 Responses to “Harry Potter & the Order of Blahness”

  1. van Says:

    Helena Bonham Carter’s is supposed to be more demented than menacing, I think.

  2. Ivan Says:

    I want Del Toro for the next film! That would be so wonderful.

    Well, fat chance.

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