Friday, July 13, 2007

Harry Potter 5 the movie: stinks like a Dungbomb

I could think of several analogies for my viewing experience of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: watching it was almost as excruciating as a Cruciatus curse... of all the film adaptations of the HP books, this one put the "ug" in Muggle... like a Dementor, it sucked all the joy out of me and left me cold.

But I exaggerate. There WERE some glimmers of joy to be found within the murky morass that was HP5: tender moments between Harry and godfather Sirius Black;
the charmingly guileless discussion in the Gryffindor common room about Harry and Cho Chang's kiss ("It was... wet."); a glimpse of a young Severus Snape during his student years at Hogwarts; the magnificent Helena Bonham-Carter at her Goth finest as the deranged and dangerous Death-Eater Bellatrix LeStrange; the Star Wars-y duel between Albus Dumbledore and Volde-- I mean, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named; and of course, every scene that had speaking lines for my darling Fred and George Weasley, the twin rays of sunshine who also brightened up the 4th HP movie for me (favorite scene in HP5 that wasn't even in the book: the twins comforting a small boy weeping from the painful punishment inflicted by Dolores Umbridge). Solid performances from the grossly underused cast of British acting greats (Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Bonham-Carter, Emma Thompson) also helped buoy this dead-weight of a movie (credit goes to Katie Leung for single-handedly dragging down the talent quotient-- they couldn't find another Asian girl in the whole United Kingdom to play Cho?).

Despite the occasional break in the clouds, overall, the film adaptation of HP5 played out like detention with Dolores Umbridge: seemingly interminable, unnecessarily cruel, and dishearteningly pointless. However, I don't blame director David Yates (or the screenplay writers my sister wants to send to Azkaban) for coming out with such a dreary disaster. It's really J.K. Rowling's fault for producing such an utterly unfilmable book. I remember how impatient and frustrated I felt reading HP5, which was overly long and written in a strangely stilted style, showing all the signs of the writer's block that allegedly plagued Rowling while working on the book. The awful result translated even worse on screen, with an almost incomprehensible storyline (good luck to anyone who hasn't read the HP series), omitted plot points crucial to character development, overlooked and unacknowledged characters (with Ginny Weasley getting the worst of it), and weak transitions from one scene to the next. Oddly, for a movie that had too much material to work with, HP5 had many pockets of "dead air", parts where nothing seemed to be happening except for characters gawking at each other, looking forlorn/miserable/furious/terrified. More than once, I wished I had bought popcorn to munch on (or throw at the screen), to occupy myself during the gaps.

My sister reports that David Yates is slated to direct the 6th HP movie. Hopefully he does a better job, given a better book to film, an even more mature cast of "child" actors (a post-Equus Daniel Radcliffe still has some improving to do), and no killjoy, kill-her-now Umbridge eating up screen time. I'll say this much for this latest addition to the HP movie franchise: at least it stayed true to the book by being the stinker of the series too.

2 Comments:

At Sunday, July 15, 2007, Anonymous Christa said...

I didn't feel Sirius' death so much. It was like, he was gone and Harry held back a bit. No REAL denial and whatnot..

Sigh. Tom Felton wasn't shown much in the movie. But god, the special effects were amazing. Praise for that.

 
At Monday, July 16, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

"Sigh. Tom Felton wasn't shown much in the movie."

Not another Draco Malfoy fan! Haha. My students Laureen Lukban and Clarisse San Juan were staunch supporters of an imaginary Draco-Hermione pairing. :p

 

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