MOVIE REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Profit of Cash
I just came out of a screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth installment of the series, and before I go spouting off my likes and dislikes, I wanted to forewarn anybody reading this review that my expertise is vastly limited in the world of J.K Rowling. While I’ve never read the books, and it’s not due to a disliking or laziness, I just find the concept of visual storytelling much more effective than having me conjure up images from the deep and dark recesses of my imagination.
With that said, I want readers to understand that I’m reviewing this film as just that, a film, and not so much a visual appendage of the book. So please keep the hate mail that starts off with “You ignorant twit…” to a minimum.
Now that that is out of the way, I loved the film. It had all of the visual aspects and plot maturity that the previous films were leading up to, and I know we are only going upwards from here. The last film left us with the big reveal of nose-less Ralph Fiennes as our quintessential baddie Lord Voldemort, and Harry taking his first step of many into adulthood. There lies my biggest problem with the film, but we’ll take it slow, as per usual.
Putting our best foot forward, the visual effects never cease to amaze me in each of these films. Each director (in this case, BBC veteran David Yates) has brought a different look and feel to the film they were charged with, and gave the film an entirely fresh feel, without diverting too far from the original text. In this film, we get more special effects than any of its previous predecessors. Between CG’d giants, to CG’d fireworks, even to Ralph Fiennes CG’d lack of a nose, there is certainly more computer graphics in this film than you can wave a stick at. Though through all of this, not once was I taken out of the mythos by a lack of belief, all thanks to the superior visual effects.
By far my favorite aspect of the film to talk about, and probably the one that will get me in the most trouble, is the undertone used throughout the first and second act. That undertone being the same thing that has fueled some of the most important science fiction and fantasy films of our era, and probably before that. This message of course is essentially “Damn the Man!”
The first two acts, for those of you ignorant to the literature much like myself, is about the Ministry of Magic (fancy term for Wizard Government) taking over Hogwarts for being “unpatriotic”. The evil government representative, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) then appoints herself head of the school, and proceeds to ban all individualism and creativity, and only teach the students from “Ministry approved literature.” The audience is then set up to root for the rebellious teens as they “take back the school.” Sound at all like a certain rebel scum trying to take over a certain empire? This is spelled out even in the film’s tagline, which is simply “The Rebellion Begins!”
Now, I am to understand that this is explained and drawn out much more in the book, but as it flows in the film, the first two acts are hardly the same as the third when it comes to pacing or continuity. Our final act, as with all of the films, is of course where the epic battle takes place, and from what I’ve heard, it does the book justice.
The final aspect of this film, and sadly my least favorite is the acting. Now Radcliffe did a fine job in comparison to his previous performances, but my biggest gripe here is with the process of the ever-changing body of the adolescent male. Both Radlcliffe and Rupert Grind (Harry and Ron) looked like they had aged 12 years from the last film to this one, making them look completely awkward and unworkable, and it only hurt the film. I had a hard time buying that this hulking Tobey McGuire look-alike with glasses was the same kid with a bowl haircut I was rooting for six years ago. And Grind looks even worse.
From personal experience, being in the public eye during puberty is a bitch, but there had to be some kind of John Travolta/Hairspray prosthetics that could have been applied to make them both look less awkward, or at least not 25. Like I said, this only hurt the film.
Physical awkwardness aside, I enjoyed this film from start to finish. And from what I overheard from the gaggle of pre-teen girls outside of the theater, there was a lot left out from the book, but I thought the film ended exactly where it should have. I give the entire flick a 8/10, with my only hope that Warner Bros can lock the main cast in the same ice that preserved Captain America until the next two movies are done filming.