(Warning: Serious whining ahead. Also, spoilers for folks who haven’t read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or seen the movie.)
You know that feeling you get when Christmas morning comes and you look under the tree and the cat has vomited on the new cashmere sweater you’d been wanting for months? Yeah, that’s kind of the feeling I got after watching "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
I never got a chance to see this latest Harry Potter installment in the theaters, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release on DVD. Order of the Phoenix is hands-down my favorite of the Potter books. It had heart and depth and angst and a generous helping of Sirius, which makes me happy indeed. In fact, this was the only one of the books to actually make me cry – I got quite weepy and perhaps inappropriately angry at Sirius’ demise. (I just kept thinking, “But...but...that means no more Gary Oldman.”)
So you can imagine how excited I was to find how this installment had turned out on the big screen. Which leads me to one simple question: David Yates, what the hell did you do to my book? And yes, I’m choosing to blame him rather than screenwriter Michael Goldberg although I’d probably give Goldberg a glare or two as well if we met on the street. The thing is, I understand having to cut giant chunks out of an 850+ page book in order to fit it into a 2 1/2 hour movie. That’s fine. But good God, throw in a transitional scene every now and then. Without transitional scenes, there’s no opportunity to create an emotional build-up. You know, something that would actually make the end battle between Dumbledore, Voldemort and Harry matter.
A few expositional scenes would have been nice, too. As a viewer, I was too busy wondering what the hell was going on – and I’d read the damn book! -- to get invested in the characters. And my poor husband, who hasn’t read Order yet, spent most of the movie asking me what just happened – he didn’t even realize Sirius died. He just thought he got sucked into the mirror thingy (technical jargon) and disappeared. Now that’s bad – when you lose a main character, it’s supposed to mean something and, um, the audience is supposed to know it happened.
I’m completely willing to trade in all the arty camera angles and washed-out color palettes and set designs stolen from The Trial in exchange for some decent pacing, smooth transitions and quiet moments of character development. Is that too much to ask?
The thing that really blows here is that the last two movies before this one were so good. The whole series was really on a roll and now there’s this great big Phoenix-sized lump in the road and, well, it makes me sad. And to know that Yates is doing The Half-Blood Prince makes me even sadder. Like the cat just vomited on two sweaters.