Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a good addition to the Harry Potter film library. I have a hard time watching the films after reading the book because I prefer a literal interpretation, but I suppose the books are little too long for that. The first movie was pretty literal, but it was also pretty short. The first part of the movie really seems to jump around. The screenwriter seems to have chosen random samples from the book to show. When they do show a scene from the book they are fairly literal but they make some often frustrating choices of what to cut and what to add that is not in the book.
An example of this is when Harry and the advance guard fly from Privot Drive to headquarters. They fly close to the river’s surface and almost hit and boat (meaning muggles would like see them) whereas in the book, Moody is adamant about flying high so as not to be seen. Also, when the students get off the train they are not in their robes whereas in the book it always a staple of the end of the train ride to put on their robes. Also, the statue in the Ministry of Magic didn’t seem to match the description in the book with just one fountain in the middle. I think it had the same statues, but this seems like a simple touch that a set designer or film director would be able to correct. It was almost like the screenwriter didn’t read the whole book series and only skimmed the 5th book.
There are other examples of this idea, but these are some that stuck with me now. The movie spends a lot of time at the DA meetings which is fun and the film does a good job of showing Harry grow up and into his role as a leader. As I said, I found the rest of the time at Hogwart’s jumpy and rushed. I get the feeling, as I did with the third and fourth movie, that if you hadn’t read he book you wouldn’t be able to follow the story. Maybe that is okay though given the audience.
Hands down the best part of the movie is the time in the Department of Ministries. The sets are well done and the action is really exciting and captures the adventure of the novel. It is faced paced, gripping, and good ride. The final battle in the Ministry of Magic between Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Harry is very exciting, and in this case the few lines Harry adds I liked and I think illustrates why being good is better than being bad. Dumbledore’s speech at the end leave a lot to be desired, but I guess they were trying to keep to a schedule.
Acting wise, Alan Rickman (Snape), Jason Issacs (Lucious Malfoy), and Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) all gave stellar performances as usually. You really want to loathe Malfoy in the film and he is very convincing in the DoM. Snape is detestable and lovable at the same time especially when he is challenging Harry during occlumency. Voldemort is very calm and confident and you really fear him throughout the movie. Helena Bonham Carter does a quality job as Bellatrix Lestrange portraying a truly horrible witch. Finally, even though you hate her, Imelda Staunton gives a true to the book performance portraying Dolores Umbridge.
The score in the movie is very moving. The music during at the end of the battle with Voldemort is really puts a point on the moment and truly makes you feel Harry’s pain.
In end, if you like Harry Potter you should see this movies. It diverts from the book a lot, but if you know the story, you will have not trouble following it. There are several excellent performances given in the film and the movie making elements are all very well done.