I’ve had several requests for my review of book 7, and I promise that is coming. For now, however, let us leave those who have yet to read it, time to read it. Instead, I’ll review the fifth film.
I have to provide my little warning first. I have yet to be truly impressed with the Harry Potter films, and I watch them mostly of joy for the books. In fact, I probably go against the vast majority of people when I state that the first two films are unequivocally, my favorite films. The only one that comes close in my opinion is the fourth film. Here’s why…
JK Rowling is a master story teller. As such, the films were largely doomed from the beginning. There is just so much in the books that you could never fit it all into the films without doing either a serious disservice to the story or creating a 12-hour film. It’s just not possible. To make it work, I find that the films tend to take the standard artistic licenses. In my opinion, they just don’t do it very well.
I am of the opinion that if you are going to retell a story, you should either tell it right or tell it better. In the case of JK Rowling, telling it better would require one of the greatest films of all time. Telling it right, however, creates what most people feel is a stagnant retelling of the original story. And I can agree with that. However, most of the directors seem to have approached the stories trying to tell it better, and they just haven’t.
I find myself getting annoyed at the little things. In the fifth film, I hate how Ms. Figg is portrayed. The whole scene appears to have been produced and directed by a bunch of kids. I also hate the scenes with the Dursleys for the same reasons. Because they come so early, you end up trying to recover the excitement instead of enjoying the film.
Later in the film, I found some of the changes made by the directors to be poorly made. In particular, making Cho Chang the revealer of the DA even under Veratiserum was not the best choice. It would not have cost anything to the time or quality of the film for that scene to be accurate, especially now since the film version of Harry is feeling guilty for accusing Cho whereas the book version deals with none of those issues.
I was extremely disappointed in the trial at the beginning of the movie. It was set up well, but Fudge seemed almost disinterested in the trial instead of the absolute rage portrayed in the books. Again, a critical mistake that would not have cost anything to have replicated.
My biggest disappointment, however, was that the departure of Fred and George was tamed down so much. While still enjoyable, the book made their departure much more illustrious and worthy of becoming legend. In the movie, the events will probably be forgotten by the next school year for all except those who were present.
Finally, I did not like the heavy, dark feel to the Ministry of Magic, but that is a choice I can deal with.
On the other hand, the ending of the film was incredible and as powerful and wonderful as I wanted it to be. The battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort was not only thunderous, but was an interesting dichotomy between the methods used. I was disappointed not to see and deal with Harry’s response to Sirius’s death in detail, especially since that event is of critical importance to the rest of the series. I also thought that the DA and the Room of Requirement were very well done.
On a whole, the film has many redeeming qualities: the dementors, the DA, the battle at the end, and the thestrals were all wonderfully done and highly enjoyable. These counteract nicely with the disappointments (Ms. Figg, the Dursleys, the trial, Fred and George, and Harry’s mourning) to leave me giving the film a solid 6 out of 10. Go see it in the theaters, but only because it really is worth it to see that last battle on the big screen.
Oh, and yes. Of course I’ll be pre-ordering it as soon as it is available. I do have my reputation to keep up after all.