I detest spoilers. I hate them so much that I will do just about anything to avoid being spoiled for a movie, book, or TV show. There’s nothing more thrilling when watching or reading a work of fiction than not know what is going to happen next. People who avidly watch every trailer, spend hours on the Internet looking for spoilers, or who turn to the last page of a book to find out the ending (yes, you know who you are) should be rounded up and forcibly re-educated in the art of storytelling.
So how did I react to going to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night? Not only have I read the book, I know how the whole Harry Potter saga ends–who dies, who lives, who gets the girl, and so on. Well, given that the first six books follow the same basic plot–summer shenanigans at Privet Drive, arriving at Hogwarts, a new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, Potter persecution, mysterious magical objects to find, a climactic battle, all with a little teenaged angst (though not too much) thrown in–I must admit that I was spent much of the movie wondering which version of those events was coming up in the Order of the Phoenix. Was it the Quidditch World Cup this time? No. Does the flying car make an appearance? No. Hmm, I thought that character had already died… Not being able to remember which events were in which book did help alleviate the spoiler aspect of seeing the movie somewhat. Sometimes having a bad memory can be a good thing.
As for the movie, it is well plotted and paced, has excellent special effects and the acting was competent. I thought our heroic trio did a very good job, especially Daniel Radcliffe who is obviously going to have a long and successful career in acting once he has finish with Harry. The supporting cast is stellar once again, but that is only to be excepted. One of the most remarkable aspects of the Hatty Potter series is that half of British acting royalty will turn out over and over again for barely five minutes’ screen time, if they’re lucky. Julie Waters, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, and many others are barely even on-screen and yet they are happy just to be part of the Potter phenomenon. Alan Rickman (Snape) is as wonderfully slimy as ever and Helena Bonham Carter plays the mad witch Bellatrix with gusto but she’s another who barely gets any screen time.
Of the younger supporting cast, Malfoy has nothing to do, and despite much pre-movie hype, Harry’s love interest, Cho Chang with a Scottish twang (Katie Leung), shows up in time of Harry’s first kiss and then promptly disappears again. The only new youngster with a lot to do is the actress who plays Luna Lovegood. Evanna Lynch plays her part competently enough, but very little of the strangeness and nuttiness of the character is on show in the movie. For that I blame the script adaptation and director, not the young actress herself.
I think the main problem with Order of the Phoenix is that it is not a movie event in itself, it is simply just another installment of the greater Harry Potter whole. There is little of the awe and wonder that accompanied the first on-screen imagining of the world of Harry Potter, when we got to see Harry, Hagrid, Hogwarts, and Diagon Alley for the very first time. It gets us from A to B, with B being one year closer to the inevitable climax of the Potter saga. It is a tale competently told, and it is an enjoyable movie, but the magic is fading. I fear the penultimate chapter will suffer the same fate, but here’s hoping the Hollywood magic-makers can bring the tale of Harry Potter to a satisfying close.