Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I travelled to New York to watch the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on IMAX 3-D with Seth42 last night. Unlike Martian687’s experience, few theater-goers were dressed in Potter-verse costumes. Mostly it was 20-something artists and grad students. The text “below the fold” is spoiler-rific, but the following is my overall take on the film.
Just like the book, this film is much darker than the previous Harry Potter installments. I think they did a fantastic job with Harry’s dreams, and I though Dan Radcliffe played the role extremely convincingly. The movie also moved quickly — it was much less chapter-y than say Chamber of Secrets and did not include the extended passage-of-time sequences that peppered Azkaban. The director also did a nice job of using Prophet headlines to demonstrate public sentiment. Taken together, the main thrust of the story moved quite rapidly, and since the writers left out many non-essential parts (job well done!), that left plenty of time for the climax. Unfortunately, and this is my biggest gripe, they did not use this time to actually play out all of the book’s final chapters. They really skimped on the MoM fights and a few of what I though were the best final scenes.
Moving on to movie-specific parts, the writers did come up with some great lines that added to the film’s comedic value. Unfortunatley, the score (by Nicholas Hooper) could not even come close to comparing with the prior brilliance of John Williams. Casting was great: Imelda Staunton, while not looking exactly like my vision of Umbridge, emulated the character’s speech patterns nicely. And, Evanna Lynch truly was Loony Luna Lovegood — I agree with JK’s one-word assessment: “perfect“. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I thought Emma Watson’s (Hermione) performance was a bit weak.
All in all, a great film. I’m not quite sure it tops Azkaban for “Best Potter Movie So Far”, but well worth at least one theater visit.

Specific pros, cons, and movie originals.

  • Harry dealing with internal conflict, PTSD, and dreams
  • Leaving in the “teaspoon” comment
  • Evanna as Luna!
  • The dialogue/writing (e.g., “I’m sorry Professor, but I must not tell lies.”) — see below
  • Cutting down the story (e.g., no quidditch) before the twins’ revenge.
  • Transitions
  • Umbridge’s relationship with the staff.
  • Keeping “Snape’s Wortst Memory” in the flow of the movie


  • The twins’ revenge was just weak
  • Cutting down the story too much from the twins’ revenge onward.
  • Biggest Potter-verse Gripe: Dropping the rules of magic for the Death Eaters/Order members in the MoM, therefore preventing the DA from really fighting the DE’s
  • We never see Neville really come out of his shell (though he has a nice line with Bellatrix).
  • Not enough Lupin (esp after the bond they form in Book/Movie 3), though I understand that they wanted to develop Harry-Sirius more.
  • The 3-D was actually kind of distracting/didn’t add a whole lot. (Though the IMAX huge screen was great.)

Clever Movie Originality

  • Umbridge punishing everyone in the DA
  • Sirius mistaking Harry for James
  • Ginny’s subtle dislike of Harry-Cho: brilliant. This had my entire theater going “awwwwwww” in sympathy for Ginny both times we caught it.
  • Arthur’s tube experience
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