If you still believe that the Harry Potter series is for kids, “The Order of the Phoenix” will cure you of that misbelief. And it’s not just the much publicized kiss (which makes me wonder about HBP which is filled with snogging) or the “medieval” detentions (the quill used to “do the lines” carve the lines on the students’ hands), but the whole handling of the story by the director and actors which marks this. Of course, that does not mean the film doesn’t have it’s lighter moments. But all in all, the movie for most of the time does justice to the darker leanings of the book.
A (very) short story for those who do not know it, but know what Harry Potter is generally (SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers ahead):
While Dumbledore continues to tell the world that Lord Voldemort has indeed returned, the Ministry of Magic (under the Minister’s “able” leadership) starts a policy to blame the messengers. Thus, all through the summer, Harry and Dumbledore are maligned in the ministry controlled Daily Prophet. So, Dumbledore re-instates The Order of The Phoenix, a group of people who fought Lord Voldemort in last war. Ministry also starts meddling in Hogwarts with placing of Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge as DADA teacher, starting to take away power from Dumbledore.
Meanwhile, Harry (in his fifth year at Hogwarts) fights dementors, finds love and gets angry at his separation from wizarding world (where almost no one believes him) and Prof. Dumbledore, who is avoiding him for most of the year. Prof. Umbridge keeps the students from actually learning magic, and hence Harry and his friends start a “study group” called “Dumbledore’s Army”. Of course, the group goes against the ministry policies, and hence they need to practise magic in secret. When the Army is discovered, Dumbledore takes the blame and has to flee from Hogwarts, making Umbridge Head of Hogwarts.
Harry is also being plagued by nightmares (or visions) because of his connection with Lord Voldemort. A group of Death Eaters escapes from Azkaban, and Harry with his group of friends has to save the world at the end in a pitched battle with Death Eaters. Of course, this leads to the most awaited duel of the series, and opening of the collective eyes of wizarding world.
(END OF SPOILERS)
I was not really expecting to see “Caps-Lock Harry” (as he is in the book) in the movie, but Harry in the movie is enough angry without making it ridiculous. Hermione is Hermione, of course, and the scene with Grawp is a whole lot funny. Ron continues to be sheepish, bumbling Ron, which is different enough from the book to make die-hard fans squirm a bit in their seats. Dumbledore continues his GoF streak, and though the last duel is superb, his reactions after that do leave a fans unsatisfied, to say the least. Of course, book-Dumbledore does peek through in the scene of his flight from Hogwarts. Tonks was a bit different than I imagined, though she does show core traits of book-Tonks.
Luna “Loony” Lovegood is really book character brought to life with her butterbeer-cork necklace, her prancing around the castle to her own “dhoon”, and the general looniness she carries as her aura. Hope she continues in the series.
But the movie really belongs to Dolores Umbridge. Her mannerisms and “hem hem” (read the book to get what that is) raise a lot of laughs early on, so do her rules (“girls and boys should have 9” between them” if I remember correct) and insistence on grooming. But as the story goes on, her insecurities and the resultant acts do make the character truly loath-worthy, and her downfall was celebrated in the theatre.
(SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers ahead)
Of course, the story is changed a lot, but I am not complaining as there is no way you can fit the gigantic book in a 138 min movie. Though that means Dobby gets short shrift (Neville benefiting from the omission), so do Dursleys (the initial storyline is cut a lot, which leaves no mention that Aunt Petunia knows about dementors). The last battle in the ministry is cut and changed a lot, with a lot of rooms missing from the Department of Mysteries, and Lucius Malfoy telling Harry about the importance of the prophesy. Which also means that the discussions between Harry and Dumbledore at the end of movies continue to be short, and a lot of detail being already covered by others.
Neville’s transformation is not apparent (and there is not mention of his “potential”), so is Sirius’ anger at being left at home doing nothing. Weasley’s Exit is flamboyant enough, though making the exit at the OWL time is something they would not do, as shown in the book. But the biggest problem I found was the scene of Sirius’ death leaves a lot to be desired, and I am not sure people who have not read the book will get what happens there.
But the small touches are what makes the movie. The main one was Ginny looking crest-fallen and/or jealous while Harry pays extra attention to Cho. Though we do not see Ginny’s romance (and Ron’s “Ross feat” – scroll down to almost the end of the link for why), but her magical power is beautifully shown, with her “Reducto”s and “Stupefy”s causing a spectacular damage (enough to impress Fred and George).
(END OF SPOILERS)
But, at the end, the overall impression on me of the movie is that it has enough light moments (the kiss, Umbridge the High Inquisitor, Grawp) to entertain general public, and dark enough to satisfy fans. Just remember that you are not reading a 800-odd page book, and you will appreciate that it was a good move that David Yates is signed for continuing the story in Half Blood Prince.
Quote of The Day:
We believe, Voldemort may be after something.
– Sirius Black (Order of the Phoenix)