July 16, 2007

Movie Review

(Arrgghh matey, there be spoilers ahead.)

The family went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night. I enjoyed it but daughter #1, who expects a full transcription of the book, was disappointed. She feels that if they aren't going to include everything then they shouldn't have bothered. Many plot lines from the book have been discarded or were touched upon ever so briefly that this film more than any previous HP film cannot stand on its own. I tried to explain the difficulties of adapting Mr. Rowling's rambling eight hundred pages into something less than ten hours, but without much success. Well, daughter #1 has viewed the HP films negatively ever since seeing Gary Oldman as Sirius. I will admit that a lot was left out, but how could it not be? Hmm..., the more I think about it, the more I wish they had made at least a 3 hour film. But I digress.

This film is dark, but, then again, so is the arc of the story. Marvelous casting and acting come to the fore and it does seem to end far too quickly. There is very little humor at all and lots of little coming of age epiphanies that mostly emphasize a recognition of the growing complexity of life and the difficult choices that must be made. I'm impressed that the books and films have both managed to avoid a sense of invincibility that most teenagers seem to feel about themselves.

The acts of violence commited against children in this film were quite shocking, though not necessarily in a way you might expect. More than once, the students of Hogwarts are shown coping, or struggling to cope, with the aftereffects of these violent acts. Like I said, this is a dark, yet appropriately so, film. The level of malevolence by Voldemort and his followers is ratcheted noticeably up. It isn't just about power for them but also a perveted, sadistic dominance where it all really adds up to something noticeably less than a zero sum game. Not that those ostensibly there to care for the students of Hogwarts are any bargain either. The willingness of officialdom to use any means necessary to further their own good ends should scare the bejesus out of a lot of folks. To move byond the obvious, think about who Ms. Umbridge choses to use the veritaserum on and why. Hermione's naive, "simple" faith in the responsible adults to do the right thing seems to have been finally shattered.

A few random thoughts ... is the Room of Requirement only for students? Didn't Ms. Umbridge have a need to know where Dumbledore's Army was meeting? And of course, it would have contained exactly what she needed. There are times when I can only admire the job that the administrators and teachers of high school age kids do. Just imagine how much tougher it might be if the kids could also do magic.

Complete aside ... it is funny to me that so many people read and adore the Harry Potter books and films with their rather clear moralizing, pointing out the bad incentives and poor performance of government entities, and the recognition of evil and the necessity of actively fighting it rather than ignoring it or trying to reach an accomodation with it. Yet those lesson somehow never seem to register when it comes to the real world. Oh well.

Now, I anxiously await the final book installment on Friday.

Posted by Charles Austin at July 16, 2007 06:27 PM