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4.0 out of 5 stars The longest Harry Potter book gets whittled down to the shortest Harry Potter film, July 11, 2007
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I think that when you take the longest Harry Potter book and turn it into the shortest Harry Potter film, that a large number of complaints by fans as to what has been cut will be inevitable after they watch "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." Not that this means that the legions of fans will be bitterly disappointed by the film version, but rather that there will be regrets over not getting to see favorite scenes on the screen. For example, Quidditch is completely out of the film, denying Ron of his best moments in the sun (start singing "Weasley is our king"). So do not be surprised when your mind keeps shifting to what has been cut and distracting you from time to time while watching this summer's latest blockbuster.

When last we left our hero, Harry fell victim to a trap to bring back Lord Voldermort, which cost Cedric Diggory his life. The Ministry of Magic wants things hushed up, but Dumbledore tells the students at Hogwarts that Diggory was murdered and Lord Voldermort murdered him. As this fifth film opens Harry and his wicked cousin Dudley are attacked by Dementors. Harry uses his wand to defend them and is summarily expelled from Hogwarts for using magic in front of a muggle. The good news is that Harry gets reinstated, but the bad news is that the Ministry of Magic uses the opportunity to appoint Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary at the Ministry, as the school's new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. However, Umbridge teaches only the theory and not the practice because she insists Harry is a liar and there is nothing the students need to learn to defend themselves from. Then things get progressively worse.

"The Order of the Phoenix" was the most maddening book to read, not because it was the longest, but because I detest Dolores Umbridge. As far as I am concerned she makes Voldermort look good, because he knows he is evil, wicked, bad, mean and nasty inside, while Umbridge thinks the ends justify the means. She is puritanical, sadistic and hypocritical. If there were not going to be children reading this review I would tell you what I really think of her. Suffice it to say, she makes me sick and I do not even take pleasure in loving to hate her, which is why my only requirement going into the film is that the Weasley Twins get their moment of glory when they become the disloyal opposition to the new order at Hogwarts.

Daniel Radcliffe continues to have the tote the heavy load in these films as Harry, with Rupert Grint's Ron Weasley being reduced more and more often to reaction shots while Emma Watson's Hermione Granger remains the Mistress of Exposition in these films. Alan Rickman as Snape remains pitch perfect casting and Gary Oldman as Sirius Black is also a joy to watch, but I discovered in this film that I really like Michael Gambon's performance as Dumbledore, mainly because he always plays up the character's intelligence and I find I prefer his interpretation to that of the late Richard Harris, forgive my heresy. Imelda Staunton does not look as much like a toad as Umbridge does in the book, but she captures the character's detestability from start to finish. We are always painfully aware how dangerous she is, whether she smiles or not. Also, Evanna Lynch steals more scenes as Luna Lovegood than Katie Leung does as Cho Chang, and it is certainly interesting to see Neville (Matthew Lewis) towering over everybody, with Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) in the silent but strong role for the pivotal sextet.

After seeing this film I raced home and got out my copy of the book and starting cataloguing things that had been cut. Such comparisons are, as I suggested up top, inevitable for anyone who has read the book. At this point what I missed the most were some of the conversations between Maggie Smith's Professor McGonagall and Umbridge where Minerva verbally flaws the Inquisitor. The omission that I am focusing on the most is the whole bit about why Neville's family was a target of Voldermort (I agree with Harry: always say his name and thereby reduce its power), since that suggests implications for what will happen in the final book, which gets released in just ten more days. I also would have liked to have seen an over reaction to Harry discovering his father bullied Snape at Hogwarts. My favorite part ends up being the impressive wizard's duel between Voldermort and Dumbledore. Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg does a good job of whittling down Rowling's book and director David Yates does a competent job, but fans will simply want more. Also, we know what happens in the next book and all of the bad things that happen in this film cannot help but seem inconsequential in comparison. Plus, fans will be distracted by mining this film for clues as to what will happen in the last book.
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 16, 2007 4:41:54 AM PDT
C. A. Luster says:
It is refreshing to see a book reviewer not blast a movie based on differences, but simply point out some disappointments about key things in the book that were not covered. Good review.

Posted on Jul 16, 2007 6:40:28 AM PDT
Excellent review. "Mistress of Exposition" certainly well-describes Watson's Hermione. It is a shame though to see her replace Ron as Harry's best friend (merely because Watson is more photogenic than Grint?)

Posted on Aug 2, 2007 11:43:28 AM PDT
Midge says:
Excellent introspective review.
I've read 1-6. #7 is waiting here for me to get to it, but I did cheat and look at the end. I don't mind spoilers. I've not been to this movie yet... waiting until all of the younger audiences are done. I, too wondered why Harry did not have a more compassionate reaction toward Snape after seeing his father & friends tormenting Snape much like the Malfoys had done toward Harry.
On Mr Filch, I always wondered if Mrs Norris might have been a love affair and having been caught by her husband with Filch, she had been turned into a cat. But I suspect that wont be answered when I finish #7.
I was disappointed that the scene between the Dursley's and Weasley's was deleted in movie Goblet of Fire. It would have been quite a scene to have them bursting through the wall behind the fireplace and then the joke candy scene. I think that director wasted a lot of time and money on forcing the cast and crew to go to Scotland for 211 rain-ruined days when in the end, the genuine countryside did not look any more real than the special effects version. He seemed to obsess on the unimportant trivial, not to mention having Daniel spend 6 months practicing in a water tank. But the one thing in movie 4 which I liked better than the book, was having Neville involved in helping Harry with the Gilly weed rather than Dobby. I was also glad to see they left out Hermione's campaign to free the elves. But for the money wasted on those rainy days in Scotland, they could have done a lot more on the opening Qwiddich match scene with the interaction before & after the match including the elf, the woods and the effect of the veela which went unexplained in the movie. The entire plot was changed around so it lost the book version of the gambling deal with the Weasely twins, Percy's attitude & many other intricate details such as seeing the other dragon matches. I love the books and all of the movies but I was hoping they did not ask that director for movie 4 back again. I was surprised that Rowling allowed him to make such drastic alterations.

But, I'm looking forward to seeing Order of the Phoenix and reading book 7 and I hope that Rowling soon realizes "there's no place like home" with future books. There is so much more that can be done as they enter into adulthood and choose careers. Some at Hogwarts, some at the ministry and perhaps some at the hospital. Then their offspring would start an entire new set of adventures. I don't think Rowling will find that the non-Harry Potter books she plans to write will generate the interest or momentum she has with this series. I think she will find it a very disappointing venture after she departs.
As a last thought, has anyone ever seen the movie, "Troll" with Angela Lansbury in a world of magic where the character's father is named, "Harry Potter?" I found the similarities between that movie and certain elements of the Harry Potter series to be astonishingly close.

Posted on Aug 28, 2007 10:39:54 AM PDT
Lena says:
Just want to thank you for good reviews - not only this one, but most of them are informative, objective and either without spoilers or with the warnings... I actually made a list of movies that I'm going to check out, based on your recommendations. Thanks again!

Posted on Sep 12, 2007 10:20:58 AM PDT
J. Savage says:
A scene I was kinda missing from the book was when Umbridge went on her crusade against the teathers. Attacking Hagrid w/ fang over his shoulders and McGonagall being stunned by several wizards at one time. It would've really made her character more menacing.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2007 5:04:08 AM PST
Esmerelda says:
And now we know that saying Voldemorts name calls him----eeeek!

Posted on Nov 14, 2007 6:07:20 AM PST
Arali says:
Thank you for your well thought out review. I too found some omissions disappointing because the movie alone does not give enough information to those who still have not read the books and are relying entirely on the movies for entertainment. Perhaps the producers might want to film extended editions, as Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings. There is just too many key scenes that are being left out and I know a lot of people who have not read any of the books, believe it or not. I, too, feel that Neville is not getting the attention he deserves in these movies.

Posted on Nov 15, 2007 4:49:43 PM PST
Jason L. says:
I just wanted to say that I find Michael Gambon to be the absolute WORST character in the cinematic Harry Potter series. He obviously doesn't understand the character and even worse, he looks like an old man in a poorly fitted bathrobe whereas the Dumbledore of the books (and as Richard Harris portrayed him) was tall, regal in stature, wore a variety of majestic clothing (based upon the descriptions J.K. Rowling used) and had a commanding presence. Michael Gambon just can't pull it off; he seems to be a doddering old fool (as Dumbledore, not his other roles) who is not tall, impressive and generates no real authority or intelligence as Albus Dumbledore is supposed to do. In short, he detracts from every scene he is in. Though Richard Harris was VERY near the end of his life, he displayed all the traits that Dumbledore was depicted as having. Perhaps Michael Gambon thought he was playing "Bumble-snore" instead of Albus Dumbledore? I shudder to think how he is going to botch "The Half Blood Prince," which is going to be the movie with the most interaction between Dumbledore and Harry.

As to the rest of the movie, it was the worst of the five made so far in my opinion. Fans would have stayed longer in the theatres (I would have!) if the filmmakers had just taken the time to really explore the characters and try to stay true to the book. Yes, cuts had to be made but these filmmakers just don't seem to understand the book, the series, the characters and as such, they turned out a very poor movie (by comparison to the first four). And finally, whereas the magic was impressive during the duel between Voldemort and Harry in the "Goblet of Fire" movie (and throughout the rest of the movie and the other three), they seemed to scrimp on special effects this time. All and all, I felt a great let down. And why aren't Voldemort's eyes Red with slits? What's that about? Read the book, filmmakers; please! You'll make a better movie.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2007 9:13:51 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 9, 2007 7:28:14 AM PST
J. Naughton says:
When I think of Dombledore as I read the books it's Michael Gambon I see. No slap to Richard Harris, whom I always thought of as far too old for the role, weak and almost feeble. Gambon dueling Tom Riddle was exciting, Harris' characterization of the Headmaster would have needed a walker to duel Riddle or anyone.
I find Gambon a perfect casting choice.

No need to get into such a lather over the whole bit or go name calling.

Posted on Dec 6, 2007 4:49:45 AM PST
Karl May says:
I agree with Jason in these comments to the review. Although the review seems to be well written, I cannot understand the reviewers preference for Michael Gambon. I shudder when he appears on the screen. I cannot think of an actor that does the Dumbledore in the books more injustice! he is the absolute worst! First, he has none of the physical attributes that are clearly defined by Rowlings. This is not his fault,but based on that fact alone he should not have been considered for this role. Second, he doesn't seem to grasp the character of Dumbledore. The Dumbledore in the books is a person of great character; loving and kind, yet a terrible force to be reckoned with when the situation calls for it. While reading the books, one gets the notion that Albus Dumbledore is the one great, omnipotent wizard. Even greater and more powerful than voldemort. Michael Gambon, in my opinion, doesn't potray the authority to overpower a mouse. Instead, he tends to be condascending and sarcastic but also weak and unsure of himself. Richard Harris, although noticably near his demise in the second film, still commands a presence that Michael Gambon will never achieve.
I, too, shudder when I think of the next film, in which there is so much interaction between Dumbledore and Harry. Overall, the movies have been done fairly well, but this actor, unfortunately, has no place in them
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