The filmmakers wasted so much effort in their attempt to reinterpret the the fifth installment of the the Harry Potter saga. The narrative suffered from trying to put together a mish-mash of sub-plots (Dolores Umbridge, The Order, Dumbledore’s Army, Cho-Harry romance, Harry’s visions) which only proved that what worked in the book could not necessarily translate well into film. In fact, if you have read the book, you could afford to sleep through much of the film until the battle among Death Eaters, DA and the Order. You could at least appreciate the effort that the CGI team had put into the movie’s visual composition. Maybe that’s another reason why the film suffered: it stayed too true to the book’s content, not to its spirit.
The story could have worked better if the writers had not given too much face time to Dolores Umbridge and focused instead on what was going on inside Harry’s mind. His battle-of-wills against the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher only served to divert attention from the real subject of the story, which was that Voldermort was working through Harry. And what’s with stupid Kreacher, anyway? Or Ginny Weasley being all-powerful than practically all her wizarding peers? Come on!
HP5 featured a few of Britain’s most talented actors, but acting could only save it so much from sloppy, erratic storytelling. Daniel Radcliffe and Co. did well with each installment as they pitted talents with the likes of Gary Oldman, Michael Gambon, Jason Isaacs, Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, David Thewlis, Imelda Staunton (with whom Radcliffe also worked in the BBC Drama adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, David Copperfield) and Helena Bonham Carter as an emo-inspired deranged Bellatrix Lestrange. (Girl on my right: Wow, she’s goth. Girl’s. Boyfriend: No, that’s emo.)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix doesn’t feel like a movie that could stand on its own but a transitional episode that, hopefully, sets the stage for the last two films of the 7-part saga.
Side note: I realized that JK Rowling has been so unforgiving with Sirius Black. Harry’s godfather was wrongly accused of mass murdering muggles, and then sent to Azkaban surrounded by soul-sucking dementors for 13 years. Then, he escapes the Alcatraz-like prison and goes into hiding at his family’s grimy old place for two years with nothing but a crazy elf who keeps muttering hatred for half-breeds to himself and a half-bird-half-horse beast for company. And the next time he leaves the house, he just gets himself avada kedavra’d by no other than his least favorite cousin. Quite a life.