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Harry Potter and the really good movie [Jul. 10th, 2007|10:21 pm]
[Current Mood |excitedenthusiastic]

Just came back in from a sneak preview of Order of the Phoenix. It is now my favorite of the Harry Potter films.

And the really funny thing is, a while back I said that they should deal with the fact that the kids are growing up so quickly by simply skipping that one. What a fool I was.

Order of the Phoenix is a monster of a book - 800+ pages of story. That's a lot to cram into a feature film. Thankfully, the screenwriters and director didn't try. Some plotlines are left out, and certain characters are given the tasks that tertiary characters carried out in the book, leaving fewer people to introduce. This streamlining leaves an effective movie that carries forward the plot and leaves plenty to enjoy.

And what I enjoyed most was hating Dolores Umbridge. Imelda Staunton really is too attractive a woman to play Dolores, but she totally sells the role. She is positively vile, while keeping that "little girl cute" act in place. And her office is so perfect - in all its dreadful pink perfection - that they should just send the set design Oscar over now.

The hate didn't stop there. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange was equally vile. She plays crazy like a dream - adding evil on top of that is just icing on the cake.

The movie had to rush through a lot of stuff, but it took time for the development of Dumbledore's Army. And that was an excellent directorial choice. The growing competence and confidence of the characters is great to see - we've watched them grow tall, and in that, we watch them grow up.

The other major casting addition for this movie was Luna Lovegood. Once again, casting was spot on. The actress playing her does an excellent job being just crazy enough.

Sure, there will be favorite scenes that you miss, but there are also changes that work much better, particularly on screen. If you are a Potter fan, you won't be disappointed.

[User Picture]From: callie_chan
2007-07-11 03:18 am (UTC)
Please, oh please, tell me that Fred and George's dramatic exit from Hogwarts made the cut? I've been looking forward to that scene for forever because I always felt it was one of the most triumphant moments of the whole book.
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[User Picture]From: katiger
2007-07-11 04:35 am (UTC)
It didn't
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[User Picture]From: dakiwiboid
2007-07-11 03:42 am (UTC)

We aren't going until this weekend

but now I'm really looking forward to it!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-11 05:16 am (UTC)
No, but I'm amused by that.
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[User Picture]From: magisa
2007-07-11 06:40 am (UTC)
For me it was almost the best movie, but the slight alterations taken together made it one of my least favorite, next to part 3. :(
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-11 11:08 am (UTC)
See, I always recognize that they are two different media - it's not quite the same story, because it can't be. It's just physically impossible to convey everything within the time frame. I thought they made good choices in how to streamline it.
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[User Picture]From: mishamish
2007-07-11 12:15 pm (UTC)
See, this review takes me from "Squee Mode" to "Full on, OMGFIRE Crazy Squee Mode!" T. and I are probably going to go see it tonight. And I watched Chamber of Secrets this weekend on TNT and they had all of the interviews and Sneak Peeks and stuff. I didn't see enough of Umbridge to make a judgement, but I *DEFINITELY* back you up on the characters. I hadn't even thought about who would be playing Luna (though, in the sneak peeks, she does seem to have knocked it out of the ballpark), but as soon as I heard (months ago) that HBC would be playing Belatrix, I just said "Oh yeah. Oh HELLS yeah!" IcantwaitIcantwaitIcantwaitIcantwait!!!
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[User Picture]From: mishamish
2007-07-11 12:17 pm (UTC)
(Oh, also: Best. Entry Title. EVAH!)
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[User Picture]From: vrax
2007-07-11 02:12 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty psyched about it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-12 01:31 am (UTC)
I hope you get to go soon! Feel better!!!
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[User Picture]From: suzieboz
2007-07-11 02:47 pm (UTC)

Oh boy.....

Helena Bonham Carter - that alone has downgraded this to matinee pricing tier only. That woman can't act for shit IMO - no matter what she does she'll always be the "ape in the remake who looked like Janet Jackson". Sorry.

I still can't get Kathy Bates as Dolores out of my mind....
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-12 01:35 am (UTC)

Re: Oh boy.....

You are SO wrong about HBC. I loved her in Fight Club, and in Big Fish.

But I know you, and once you take on a hatin', there's no turning back! ;-)

Kathy Bates would have been great - except I can't see her pulling off the accent. Imelda Staunton is wonderful.
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[User Picture]From: chris2342
2007-07-11 03:29 pm (UTC)
I absolutely loved it. While it's not the best standalone movie of the Potter films (that would be "Prisoner") it's the best Harry Potter film. And yes, Staunton really captured Dolores Umbridge. She is definitely the most vile character to me in the series. That whole banality of evil thing is so much more spot-on than huge snakey evil people in real life. You know, like the president.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-12 01:37 am (UTC)
I wish they had time to show the post-Weasely-departure rebellion, but there are just some things that had to go. She was truly magnificent in her vileness.
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[User Picture]From: jeanniemac
2007-07-11 04:33 pm (UTC)
I'm still not sure when we are going to see the movie but hopefully it will be sometime this weekend. I cannot wait to see Imelda Staunton as Umbridge. Staunton is one of the most under appriciated actresses out there (and one of my favorites) and I can't wait to see what she does with the role. I just love the promo shots that made her look like a demented Queen Elizabeth.

As for Helena Bonham Carter, I'm very much looking forward to her version of Belatrix. I am, however, a little dubious of her ability to take on Angela Lansbury's role in Sweeny Todd...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-12 01:42 am (UTC)
OOO, I think she'll be great! Not Angela, of course, but no one is Angela.
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[User Picture]From: frawg_angel
2007-07-11 05:18 pm (UTC)
Well, I was trying to avoid the Harry Potter Virus that seems to happen from all the promotional information that they leak out in the press... And the movies on TV... and the pre-order emails from Amazon about my book coming to me... And I was thinking that maybe I'd see the movie next week since I was very constricted on my finances this week and had a snaffu with a short term contract job... and then I saw your review. While I don't agree with all your movie reviews, I was GREATLY heartened by this! So, screw it, I went to the midnight showing even though I got a call at 7:30pm to show up at the contract job at 9am today *must... stay... awake... must... realize... not... 20... anymore...*

I agree with you that this is the best move, and it's the first one I've enjoyed really since the second one. The third annoys me so much I never purchased it and the fouth got a response of "It wasn't as bad as the 3rd as high praise from me. My issue with the third came from too much style over substance, and the things that were left out were so annoyingly massive that when speaking to my father about it (who hasn't read the books) and asking "Why did Remus and Sirius know about the map without being told what it was, how to use it, that it never lied..." and "Who are Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs?" and my personal favorite "Why is Harry's patronus a stag" which were the connection to his family that made the third book my favorite of the series still. He couldn't answer the questions and wondered that himself but figured it wasn't important enough to be covered.

This one had some changes, but the feel of it was right. Acting was better, dialogue was a LOT better, the things that were left in were good, and I didn't miss a lot of what was left out. I ADORED Umbridge, loved hating her, and thought she brought up the interaction with others. Wonderful wonderful wonderful.

HBC as Bellatrix Lestrange was also fan-freakin-tastic!

The mark of a good movie for me is satisfying my need for enjoyment, not throwing me out of the film with "WTF" moments, and have me wanting more... either to see the next movie in the series or read the next book, or just figure out a way to stay in that world. Star Wars does it to me... I can't watch Empire without watching Jedi. Can't do it, if I don't it feels so unfinished and itchy. I went home and decided to pull out Half Blood Prince and bring it to work today rather than waiting to re-read it right before book 7 comes out.

Man, I am seeing that again in the theater!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-12 01:59 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it! I was tempted to go see it again - alas, I am too busy these days. Grr.
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[User Picture]From: rhapsody_98
2007-07-11 06:23 pm (UTC)
I would love to see HBC do something other than goth, she's such a good actress. But I guess when you're married to Tim Burton, you have an image to uphold.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-12 02:01 am (UTC)
Her next big role is in Sweeney Todd, so yeah, not leaving the fold anytime soon.
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[User Picture]From: ihavethatshirt
2007-07-12 02:00 am (UTC)
I think Umbridge has made me dislike kittens. For that, I hate her to the tenth power.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-12 02:08 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: dreagoddess
2007-07-12 11:59 am (UTC)
It's funny, because OotP is probably my least favorite of the books. But it's now my hands-down favorite of the movies. (Well, okay, probably tied with the first one, because that was the first one!) Once again, they did such a stupendous job with casting. Luna and Umbridge were both wonderful. But what I loved is that everybody had their part to play, and even the short roles were great. There wasn't nearly enough McGonagall, but what parts she had, she shone. Snape just oozed in every scene, and I got shivers down my spine! Sirius was just the right bit of reckless, overgrown kid and desperate to do something, and him calling Harry "James" in the middle of battle was a really great touch.

*sucks in breath*

But the best part was the Trio. They were wonderful. They really felt like three kids who'd been best friends for years and would go through anything for each other.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2007-07-12 01:08 pm (UTC)
I reread OotP for the first time recently and discovered that I liked it a lot more than I remembered. So I was looking forward to the movie.

And yeah, the "Nice one, James" bit was just heartrending. And the relationship between Our Heroes was great.

I wanna go again! But I don't have time!!!
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