The Red Right Hand
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HARRY POTTER
& THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Evil Must Be Confronted

Director
David Yates
Starring
Daniel Radcliffe
Rupert Grint
Emma Watson

As I stated back in 2005, when I used to work in a bookstore, I hated the idea of Harry Potter, simply for the commercialism of it all (that and the dreaded opening nights on the release of a new title). Despite this, I enjoyed the films and looked forward to their release with a child-like anticipation (anticipation like that of a child… not anticipation for on-screen "child liking"). I have maintained that each instalment has improved on the first and grown with the story. That is, up until the fourth book. The fourth book was a fairly hefty tome and let the fans down a bit, deviating from regular threads to focus on the featured tournament. The fifth book was released in June 2003, proudly brandishing over 850 pages of back story and knot tying. Before the sixth book (Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince) was released two years later, this was a bit of a fan favourite, furthering the story whilst offering mass closure. As this is the flabbiest title, I had predicted a split-release, showing the film in two parts. Instead, David Yates has offered a two and a half hour stab, cutting away reams of story. Fans will not be best pleased.

The more I think back on the film, the more I enjoy it. My initial reaction was not exactly the best, I was fairly disappointed with the lack of certain cut characters and the fact that so much had to be crammed in, leaving little room for character development (see highlighted character below). I was also annoyed by the digital effects which seemed rather standard and unimpressive, especially when compared with Goblet Of Fire. As I looked back on it, I found myself glazing these details and focusing on the stronger points, such as Gary Oldman as Sirius, Imelda Staunton as the obnoxious Dolores Umbridge and Harry and Cho [Katie Leung] making hot sweaty love in the dorm rooms, after smoking marijuana... wait, maybe that's to come in the later books. The plot is a little difficult to summarise without giving away so much; suffice to say that we are now entering fans-only territory. If you haven't seen the previous instalments, don't bother with what's to come.

The Potter series is experiencing a recurring theme with fantasy films (up until Christmas when The Golden Compass will change that) in which black is the new black and darker is better. In all respects, this is mostly true, as Harry gets older his life should be less cheery and more fraught with danger; it's only natural as teenage angst sets in. As somebody who knows and loves his films (and books... just not children's books) I must say that very little happens in this feature. We cover a lot of ground and screen-time but I could sum up the whole plot in four sentences - I think the reason for this may be the editing of the original text, I.e. how can we sum this book up in four sentences and feed important things in slowly until the film is full? The meddling Ministry of Magic and generally immense educational coverage in the book (of which survived to the film) is nice from a nostalgic point of view (experiencing similar things, under similar teachers before I moved away from London) but altogether a little pointless; not exactly furthering the story. The finale makes up for a lot but the whole ordeal feels like a stepping-stone to the next title.

Release Date:
12th July 2007

The Scene To Look Out For:
I don't know why but I liked the Snape [Alan Rickman] back-story; seeing him bullied by Potter's dad. I also thought the subtle use of CGI was most impressive. Using flashbacks from the previous films and adding current elements - one training session in particular comes to mind as Harry is remembering the mirror in the first film, seeing his parents, all of a sudden Snape appears behind them and says, "Feeling sentimental?" It's just cleverly done.

Notable Characters:
Hermione Granger. I wanted to highlight either Sirius Black or Dolores Umbridge but Emma Watson's performance as Hermione is really mind boggling. I gave her a few chances - she was a little bland in the Prisoner of Azkaban, more so in Goblet of Fire but this film really goes too far. Hermione is irritating, stuffy, opinionated and grotesquely acted. Other than her continual concerned/distressed staring, she has one scene that just illustrated how bad an actress Ms. Watson is. Sitting in the common room, mocking one another (as friends do) Hermione bursts into laughter all of a sudden she's in false hysterics and spewing one of the most forced laughs ever to grace the cinematograph. On the other hand, Rupert Grint has improved as Ron Weasley and is finally stepping away from the whiney performances of the first films.

Highlighted Quote:
"I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You're not a bad person. You're a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Understand?"

In A Few Words:
"A fairly standard addition to the series which will do well but fans will be disappointed and punters may feel gypped or confused"

Total Score:
6/10


Matthew Stogdon