Friday, July 13, 2007

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

Directed by David Yates

Great movie!! Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!

But as much as I loved it, I’m not going to do a full rundown of this film. There are already so many reviews of it out that it would just be overkill. Let me just touch on a couple of things before I get into Mr. Oldman’s performance.

I love the way the young actors, Radcliff, Watson and Grint have matured in their acting skills. Because the film, naturally, focuses on the issues of Harry Potter, I think we are seeing just the tip of the talent that lies in both Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. I am really looking forward to seeing them branch out into other productions.

Daniel Radcliff, on the other hand, has a chance to really show us how much he has grown in his acting skills. I’m quite looking forward to the release of his new film, “December Boys,” this fall and to seeing him in a role other than Harry Potter.

The film, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” also keeps to the pattern of maturing along with the characters and the actors. This is not really a movie for eight or nine-year-old children. Naturally, there is no inappropriate material but the content is more mature, as is the mood. The tone of the film is tense and dark. There are very few of the giggly, feel-good moments we saw in the first three films in the series, although the Weasley twins, as usual, do give us a couple of very good laughs.

I was a little disappointed with the clarity of the screenplay. There are one or two places, most notably at the end of the film in the scene in the Department of Mysteries, where you really can get lost if you haven’t read the books. Huey, Dewey and Lewey, who saw the movie with me, haven’t read the books and they were a real pain in a couple of places wanting me to explain what was happening. Sheesh! I wish those guys would just read the books!

I did enjoy Imelda Staunton’s portrayal of Dolores Umbridge and I didn’t think I was going to when I first saw the previews. To begin with, she’s much prettier than I had pictured Umbridge and her costumes were much too easy on the eyes. And initially her sickly-sweet manner appeared too genuine – she appeared too much a follower, not really capable of any foul deed on her very own. And therein lies the genius of Staunton’s interpretation, because soon enough we are given a glimpse of the real Dolores Umbridge and, much to our surprise, she’s a nasty piece of work capable of very evil things, indeed, all by her sickly-sweet little self.

The rest of the cast gave their usual fabulous performances. Although we didn’t get to see as much of Maggie Smith as I would have liked we did get to see David Thewlis as Remus Lupin again, which was a real treat. Alan Rickman was at his snide, snarling best as Snape and David Bradley, as Filch, was such a fantastically toady creep – I just loved him!

We didn’t get to see much of Robbie Coltrane either and that was disappointing. Emma Thompson’s role was whittled down and then toned down way too much, I thought. I was so looking forward to seeing Professor Trelawney flip out as Umbridge fired her. I think the taming down of that scene was a real loss to the film.

As much as I miss and mourn the loss of Richard Harris, I must say I have enjoyed Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledor immensely. And at the end of the film, while facing Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic – shades of Gandalf, he was great!!! He was fierce, he was wise, he was valiant! That scene was everything I had hoped it would be.

And now we come to Sirius Black, played by Gary Oldman. Finally! Of course, a great deal had to be cut from the 800-something page book to make this movie and, sadly, a large part of Sirius Black’s character never made it to the screen.

Long before he had been cast in the role I knew that Gary Oldman would be the perfect actor to play Sirius Black. This multi-dimensional character requires an actor of unsurpassed talent and fortunately, I wasn’t the only one to recognize that. I was thrilled when I learned that he had been cast.

And yet, we don’t get to see the full Sirius simply because they just could not cram it all into a two-hour film. Ach!! As if Sirius wasn’t more important that that silly old flap between the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts.

Seriously though, I do think that the relationship between Harry & Sirius needed more detail in the film. That relationship is very important in showing how Harry’s support system is first built up and then swept away from him. I think it’s a crucial element of the story that is not receiving enough attention in the films. Too bad the film’s makers didn’t see fit to consult with me. If they had we would have been treated to an unforgettable performance by Gary Oldman.

That’s not to say his performance was forgettable. Oh, no!! Anything but! Even though we only get to see one side of Sirius’s personality, Oldman shows that side with incredible skill. If you didn’t absolutely love Sirius before, after seeing this movie you will – you most certainly will.

The film shows only the best sides of Sirius; the loving, supportive side, the talented and skilled wizard side, the wiser, more mature side and, very briefly, the frustrated side that is forced to remain in hiding from the Ministry of Magic, unable to take a full part in the fight against Voldemort. And I could be just reading what I want to see in the character but I do think we see a little of the wounded side of Sirius come out in Oldman's protrayal. Sirius is quiet, sitting off by himself at the dining table, subdued when talking about what's going on in the Wizarding World. I think Mr. Oldman put as much of the full Sirius into the character as he could, given the amount of screen time he got, and it was very effective.

This is Gary Oldman as we’ve rarely seen him. No wild man stunts, no craziness. It was great, I tell you, great, to see him play this tragic character. His tones of voice, his facial expressions, his body language all take us straight into what his character is feeling.

He made us love Sirius; made us long to see Sirius give Harry the home and father-figure that Harry so desperately needs. He made us feel confident that the war with Voldemort could be more easily won because we had Sirius on our side. Harry’s world, the entire Wizarding World, was safer, happier, more complete with Sirius in it.

And then, of course, we lose him. And it’s a terrible loss, a devastating loss; for Harry and for us. (If you haven’t read the books…..well, I’m sorry I spoiled that part for you.)

For Harry, the loss of Sirius means the loss of his only real tie with his parents, the loss of the chance for a real home, the loss of the chance to have a father-figure in his life, the loss of the support he needs in his battle against Voldemort.

For us it means all that and more. For us it means we can no longer look forward to seeing Gary Oldman in the next movies in the series. A truly shattering loss.


Huey said...

Aw, come on! Was it that hard to tear your eyes away from The Oldman to clue us in?

Maybe if you would read us all a chapter every night at bedtime we'd be more interested in the books? Just a thought.....

Good article. And I agree with you, I think that Oldman was showing something more in that dining room scene - I just didn't get it until you pointed it out. See? You really are good at this!

The Willow said...

Bedtime stories? Huey, Huey, just leave me speechless. And that's just because you agreed with me! Let's not mention the fact that you are actually talking about Gary Oldman. I knew I'd turn you around, eventually.

Glad you saw that in his performance, too. I thought that people who had not read the book might have missed it. I was kind of looking for it, too, or at least I was looking for the signs of Sirius's wounds - wondering just how much of him would get into the film - so I was afraid I might have read too much into the part.

Now, back to those bedtime stories - I don't suppose you'd be happy with me reading them to you over the phone?

Sassys said...

Well done...well written and "hey Gary is not too bad on the old eyes"
I have not gone out to a movie theater in ages and this review actually makes me want to do that!!

The Willow said...

Well, hey, hey, hey, Sassys-girl!! Thank you for the kind words. And I hope you do get to see OOTP in a theater. It'll be great on the old DVD at home but that big screen and great sound system really puts something special into the viewing.

So, who said "hey, Gary is not too bad on the old eyes"? Not that I disagree - just wondering....

Sassys said...

I said that LOL!! I think as far as looks go that Gary Oldman is kinda cute! Then again I have strange taste!

The Willow said...

Ha!Ha! Sassys-girl, your tastes are no stranger than mine. Frankly, I've never been accused of being "normal."

Course, I don't mean this to sound as though thinking that GO is easy on the eyes is 'Abby Normal.' No, no, no, far from that. Far, far from that. :-D

Sire said...

Talk about an in depth review. Great one PW. Say bab I missed you and wanted to know if you wanted to play with me?

BTW seeing how BF has gone you might want to join some of the gang at Communati?