Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 10: Adam’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix + GIVEAWAY

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was praised by the critics as the best of the series and I have to agree with them.  The film shows a different, more complex side to the world of wizardry that gave viewers a new refreshing look at the film franchise. 

The film starts off in the muggle world, with Harry and his cousin Dudley in a pedestrian tunnel near a playground when they are attacked by Dementors, the soul-sucking guards of Azkaban.  Harry uses his magic to dispatch them, and is subsequently expelled from Hogwarts for using magic in front of a muggle.  While at the Ministry of Magic for his hearing, Harry learns that the Ministry is trying to deny that Lord Voldemort is back, and that it was in fact Harry Potter who killed Cedric Diggory!  Fortunately, Harry is cleared of all charges and he gets to go back to Hogwarts, where students start treating him differently due to the divide of whether Voldemort is back or not.  The ministry hires Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, but the real reason she’s hired is to keep an eye on the students and Dumbledore for the Ministry.  Harry, with the help of his faithful friends Hermione and Ron, form “Dumbledore’s Army”, a group of students who want to learn how to defend themselves against the Dark Arts.  Together, this underground army must convince everyone that Voldemort is back or else the world of wizardry will be forever changed for the worse.

This film was perfection. It was perfectly paced and combined great special effects with a great story.  It made Rowling’s story come to life, and really made the world of wizardry come to life as well.  In this film you definitely get to see some of the turmoil and the under-workings of this magical world.  The characters were excellently developed and definitely seemed like people whom you could meet on the street.  I can’t really put into words why this film felt more special than the others, but it definitely had a different feel. The pacing was perfect, and the interludes with the newspaper headlines really helped move the story along.  A lot of times book to film adaptations cut huge amounts out due to time constraints.  The newspaper headlines were a way to keep those pieces of the book in, while keeping the total film time at a manageable amount.  The headlines reminded me of old films where the flipping newspapers introduced scenes.

Just when I thought a character couldn’t get any cooler and more badass than Lord Voldemort, the introduction of Bellatrix Lestrange happened.  Lestrange, one of the female Death Eaters, was played brilliantly by Helena Bonham Carter: adding another level of evil to the Death Eater persona.  Once again, I pictured a perfectly nice actor doing terrible things in order to get into the mindset to play a character like this.  Helena Bonham Carter is a brilliant character actress, especially in this role.  You really feel her evil-ness coming through the screen.  (It almost making the viewer want to root for the bad guys so that they could be on-screen more)   However, her acting is triumphed by Ralph Fiennes, who returns as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I kept pestering Kim as to when he would return to the screen, and when he finally did, I was at the edge of my seat.  He is pure genius in this role, and really defines this evil being that is part devil, part wizard.  I really can’t wait to see what happens in the next three films with Voldemort and look forward to many more scenes with Ralph Fiennes.

All and all this was by far my favorite film so far.  The story moved at a really good pace, and it contained details that were both visually stunning and important to the series. The special effects were amazing and the acting was really strong.  I look forward to seeing what happens in the next chapter of the film and see how the story ends.  Like always, I leave you with a question: do you ever root for the bad guys?  Deep down is there ever a time where a bad character is written or portrayed so well that you can’t keep yourself from rooting for them?

Until next time, happy viewing.

6 out of 5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Warner Brothers
PG-13, 138 Minutes
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on DVD.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Saturday July 30, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday July 31, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 8: Adam’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Welcome back to the Harry Potter Blogsplosion! Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth (and Kim’s favorite) adventure in the series.  It once again stars Daniel Radcliffe, as the title character, and Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint as his trusty sidekicks.  Harry is in his fourth year at Hogwarts and finally comes face to face with a human form of Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes.

The movie starts off with Harry Potter having a nightmare consisting of Peter Pettigrew, Lord Voldemort (who is unseen), and an unknown man.  Harry watches as Voldemort kills an elderly man who was standing near them watching them.  It is as Voldemort yells “Avada Kedavra” that Harry suddenly wakes up.  Harry awakens to find Ron and Hermione watching him to make sure he’s ok.  Assuring them that he’s fine he goes back to sleep, only to wake up a few hours later for the Quidditch World Cup finals.  While everyone is sleeping post-match, the Death Eaters, who are the faithful servants to Lord Voldemort, terrorize the campsites to announce to everyone that Voldemort’s return is imminent.  After narrowly escaping the Death Eaters, Harry and his friends return to school to learn that Hogwarts will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament.  Three different schools of wizardry send representatives from their respective schools to compete in a series of events that push their magical skills and endurance to the limit.  The winner of the tournament wins the Triwizard Cup, a small fortune, and bragging rights for their school. Controversy arises when Harry Potter, 3 years younger than the 17-year-old cut off age, is the fourth candidate to be chosen to compete.  With Harry as an extra champion, four candidates will now vie for the title instead of the usual three, including Viktor Krum from the Durmstang institute, Fleur Delacour from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, and finally Cedric Diggory (played by a pre-Twilight Robert Pattinson).  The three tasks they face are: steal a golden egg from a dragon, save a loved one trapped in the lake, and find the Triwizard Cup in the heart of a giant hedge maze filled with obstacles. While in this last challenge, Potter is transported to a place where for the first time, he comes face to face with a human form of Lord Voldemort.

After the dark take of the third Harry Potter film, this one has a bit of a lighter look.  There seemed to be more of the magic that makes Hogwarts so appealing and makes it a place you’d really want to visit.  Mike Newell the director, had a way of making every shot count. The shots were beautiful and really made Hogwarts this magical yet accessible place.  I don’t feel that this was done in the first three films.  One of my favorite shots of the film was when Harry was crossing the long bridge on Hogwarts’ grounds.  Before they zoomed in on him, they held off just long enough to make you notice what an amazing shot it was. The most beautiful shots in my opinion were of the Yule Ball.  The use of cinematography in the film just makes each shot magical.  The music went perfectly with these scenes and really played off of the characters emotions, just like a good score should.

Ralph Fiennes is the PERFECT villain. He just embodies what Lord Voldemort should be.  Not having read the books, I didn’t have any idea of what Voldemort should be like.  He is the perfect combination of creepiness and pure evil, just what a villain should be.  I imagined him not having a heart and kicking puppies in order to get into the mindset of the role.  He was definitely the highlight of the movie.  I was eagerly waiting for him to finally appear and when he did, I was so excited.  My eyes were drawn to him and I listened to every word he spoke.  I can’t wait to see him play this role more in later films; I’m excited to see how he develops Voldemort’s character. It was also interesting to see Harry and Ron as just regular teenage boys.  They are so powerful with their wizard powers that I think the viewers often forget that they’re teenagers, and it was interesting to see them being nervous around girls and awkward with their first love.  

All and all, I think this was the best of the Harry Potter films I’ve seen thus far.  The story was the most unique, and I liked the addition of new characters and finally getting to see Lord Voldemort.

5 out 5 stars

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Warner Brothers
PG-13, 157 Minutes