Movie Review: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
We went to the midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie last night; it looks like it's going to be pretty popular. There were 5 (!) sold-out midnight showings at my local suburban theater, and something like 17 showings over in Boise last night. The audience for my particular showing seemed to attract all the screeching teenage girls in the Valley, but I only missed a few lines of dialogue, so it wasn't that bad. (SubBasket, on the other hand, had a hard time dealing with the concept of the giggling girls flirting with her sons.)
Without putting out too many spoilers, I can say I really liked the movie. After the horrible disappointment that was the last HP movie, this one moved back towards the style of the superior third installment. Since they took an 800+ page book and crammed it into a 2 1/4 hour movie, they obviously had to cut a lot of good stuff out; some of the more frustrating cuts were getting rid of any Quidditch and the "Ron and Hermione become prefects" plotlines. Still, I thought that they included most of the vital parts of the book -- the use of newspaper headlines to advance the story worked pretty well.
I was especially interested to see how they were going to handle the "battle royale" at the end; I figured they'd have a hard time showing on film the internal struggle Harry had to go through to defeat Voldemort's attempted "possession" of him. They ended up doing a pretty good job, and even someone who hadn't read the book will probably be able to understand what's going on. I especially liked how they handled the magical duels between the adult wizards and witches -- there wasn't any "stand back, I'm going to do magic" feeling, they just went at it full bore (like you'd expect them to do in "real life").
They handled the funnier parts well, and the actress who played Luna Lovegood stole every scene she was in. One kind of disconcerting sequence came in the scene where the three principles were discussing Harry's first kiss -- it looked like the actress playing Hermione dropped out of character and started cracking up, but they decided to keep it in the film for some reason. It almost had the feeling of a mid-film blooper reel.
Overall, it was well worth staying up late for. While I still haven't decided whether or not it's better than Prisoner of Azkaban, it's definitely one of the top two HP films. I give it four screeching teenage female film-goers out of five.