I got to watch ‘Harry Potter and The Order Phoenix, on the 2nd day of its release in India. It’s almost been a tradition. I have watched every HP movie on the first week of its release. The movies, on the whole have been disappointing. If not for the books, I don’t think the movies would have worked. The one I liked the best so far was Prisoner of Azkaban which incidentally is also my favorite book.
The Order of Phoenix is my least favorite book, it had lot of frivolous details and the story did not progress much. I thought it leant itself for a good movie script because you could remove a lot from the book without impacting the story. They have definitely cut the book short, but the cuts have not been in the right places. It is quite impossible to follow the movie if you have not read the book. I missed the first 10 minutes of the movie because the terrible traffic at Chennai which doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of abating even on a Saturday afternoon. When I entered the theatre, Sirus has just finished explaining about The Order to Harry and the scene moved to his trial at the ministry. It is here we get to see Umbridge. I think her characterization is true to the book, right from her short stature to her smiling sadism. She steals the lime light more than anyone else.
After this the story moves to Hogwarts and it feels like a few random pages from the book had been picked up for picturization. Umbridge becoming the high inquisitioner is so abrupt. Even Dumbledore comes across as helpless, which he never does in the book. Professor Trelawney being dismissed from Hogwarts also appears very theatrical. The movie does not explain why Cornelius Fudge does not want to believe that Voldermot is back and why he is nervous about Dumbledore gaining power. The Weasley twins escaping Hogwarts is very beautifully picturized but no explanation on what made them do it. One of the most disappointing aspects of the movie was that there was no Quiddich; it is the first HP movie which did not have the game.
What I liked about the movie is the way Harry handles the DA training. I never liked Harry in this book and that is one of the reasons it is my least favorite. He came across as too loud, too frustrated and rather spoilt in the book. However you come to like Harry in the movie. He is much more controlled, nicer and mature. Hagrid’s giant brother Grawp is really adorable. He steals the show in the two scenes he appears. The scene I liked best is when Hermione leads Umbridge to the forbidden forest claiming Dumbledore’s secret weapon is hidden there and Umbridge is attacked by Grawp and the Centaurs. She begs Harry to tell them she means no harm and Harry retorts with the words which she made him write during his detention “I must not tell lies”. The climax fight at the ministry is truly magnificient.
If you remember the book, Dumbledore answers many questions in the final chapters. Why Harry feels this connection to Voldermot, why he made Harry learn Occulmacy, why the prophecy was important to Vodermot, why he avoided Harry through the term, how the order came to know that Harry was at the ministry etc. I think this conversation between Harry and Dumbledore in on of the highlights of the book which hardly figures in the movie. Another aspect that the movie fails to capture is Harry’s extreme grief over Sirius death and his shock over the knowledge that he would have to kill Voldermot.
All said and done, who can miss Harry Potter, whether it is the book or the movie. Do watch the movie. But don’t forget to read the book before you go.