Frank and I went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix. We’re both big fans of the books, and we’ve seen (though not in order) the four previous movies. Having sat through the other movies, we were both completely prepared for the fact that large hunks of plot and character from the book were absent. I also knew that this was the shortest HP movie, made from the longest HP book. Not a good sign. The thing I was not prepared for was how Order of the Phoenix confirmed all of my negative feelings about modern moviemaking.
This movie is almost completely impossible to follow if you haven’t either memorized the previous four films, or read the books. And because it employed standard action movie quick cuts, even within dialog scenes, you have to be pretty fast-thinking to connect the dots, even with a lot of HP background. And that’s the crux of my problem with this film. Who decreed that any film with action scenes must be highly tense and overly-drmatic at every single moment? The characters do not behave like real people. The scenes are too short, and the action sequences are shot through with fie and smoke and that high-pitched metallic sound that so many filmmakers use as a crutch. These things make a film unwatchable for me, unless I’m willing to completely ignore the plot and just gaze the fireworks. Sorry, ‘m not. I enjoy the Harry Potter world because I like the story, the conflict, the characters. None of these things seem very important in the films, and it’s getting worse with each production.
As we were heading home last night, I was thinking that perhaps I’m just too stuck in the old movie world I love. Realities are different, and people expect those fireworks. But Frank reminded me of at least one recnet film epic that featured plenty of action and plenty of character development and good dialog. Any guesses? OK I’ll tell ya, it’s Lord of the Rings.
Maybe there is hope. Peter Jackson did a pretty good job with furry-footed people and villains who catapult heads over the castle walls. Why can’t the HP filmmakers take a lesson from LOTR and remember that these stories are about people and their journeys, not just the smoke created when you set of a patronus charm.