Geeks of Doom’s teenage film critic Tony D, Hardcore Film Guy, takes us on a journey of how he became a Harry Potter fan and gives us his thoughts on the latest film offering, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
I remember every wand I’ve ever sold, Mr. Potter. It just so happens that the phoenix whose tailfeather resides in your wand gave another… just one other. It is curious that you should be destined for this wand… when its brother gave you that scar. — John Hurt, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Back in 2001, my teacher read us Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I didn’t really like it, and that was basically when the movie was going to be released. So my school took a field trip to go see it, and I stayed home that day. I didn’t really want any part of the “Harry Potter” so I got to watch Cartoon Network and play my PlayStation. My mom bought me the DVD when it was released, but I don’t think she remembered that I didn’t want to see it. So the good kid I was back then, I said thank you, put it on my dresser, and left it there for two months. One day I was as bored as hell, so I put it on. And goddamnit, if I had a gun, I would have shot myself. I don’t believe I skipped a field trip for this. It was… great. I mean the last thirty minutes may have been the best thirty minutes of my life. I had to get the books and watch the next movies.
Then came the sequel, which I passed that up to go see The Wild Thornberry’s Movie (which was a damn good movie when you are around 10). I was able to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on DVD though, and it was… alright. Not as good as the first, but what movie is better than the first? Then came time for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the summer of 2004. That was the first movie I got to see with a friend, so we got tickets to go see that. Alfonso Cuarón was the director, and at that time I did not know who he was, but one thing I knew afterwards, was that he directed a movie that had lots of sex that I still didn’t see yet. The third Harry Potter film was my second favorite in the series. It was dark — very dark — and something that Chris Columbus (who directed the first two movies) and even future director Mike Newell (who did the fourth movie) could achieve.
And then there was Newell‘s film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I saw that one on DVD and I thought it was pretty good, but then I re-watched it again, and I noticed so much that was wrong with it. There was too much drama, and I began calling the movie “Degrassi: The Next Next Generation.” It became my least favorite of the series, but I still think it is alright. Still, nothing came close to Sorcerer’s Stone and probably, never will.
SPOILER WARNING: This final section contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
But this one almost came close to it. See, new director David Yates came into the franchise with not a single movie that I know of under his belt. Sure, you can be worried of what will happen, especially after the disappointing fourth film, which had way too much drama. I thought, since the kids are getting older, there will be much more drama in this one. So I had very low expectations, but once I got seated, I knew that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix would be a good movie.
Harry, being the lonely kid he is, just sitting on the swings, is getting picked on by his cousin Dudley, who looks way different since the last two movies. On their way home, Dementors attack them, and Harry defends both of them by using magic. The Ministry of Magic declare that using magic in front of a Muggle (a non-Wizard) is a violation against whatever law, and Harry is expelled from Hogwarts school. Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore and others help Harry come back to Hogwarts, and the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, who always has a bug up his ass, appoints Dolores Umbridge as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, who likes to use books instead of practical spells.
See, now the problem here is that no one believes Harry about (dare I say it) Lord Voldemort coming back. Dolores Umbridge has not been letting her students speak of Voldemort in class. And the Umbridge lady doesn’t like what the school is doing with the classes, so she is pretty much taking over the school. The kids know something is up between Umbridge and Dumbledore and everything else, so Harry, Hermonie, Ron, Ginny, Neville, and newcomer Luna Lovegood form a team of freedom fighters called Dumbledore’s Army, where Harry teaches them real Defense Against the Dark Arts so they can prepare theirselves for whenever Voldemort comes.
The whole tale between Dumbledore’s Army brings back memories. Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts is much like my previous year in school. See, a teacher got fired for a reason unknown to us, and since no one was telling us shit, we decided to find out ourselves. We organized some shit to start a riot during third period, and we did. Pretty fun, but we still didn’t find out why. I have been talking to the teacher though. He’s getting a job somewhere else. But seriously, this Dumbledore’s Army this reminds me of Pedro’s voting campaign (from Napoleon Dynamite).
Anyway, it’s true what people have been saying. The Order of the Phoenix is the darkest Potter movie yet, and is the darkest Potter book (can’t say about the sixth though). Yates had to definitely be inspired by Cuaron’s Potter movie. Everything was dark about this movie: the humor, the action scenes, and some of them are quite scary too. I’m glad that Yates signed on for the next film, which is scheduled for November of next year.
What I really missed watching this film was the game of Quidditch. That used to be my favorite part of all the Potter movies and I did not only miss it in the fourth one, but I truly missed it here. I don’t think any chase scene can be as great as the Quidditch scene in the first movie. I really missed the old Dumbledore, too. Don’t get me wrong, Michael Gambon is a great Dumbledore. But I miss the late Richard Harris. He has to be my favorite one. I’m sure that if Harris were still here, he would applaud Gambon’s Dumbledore. I also really missed Hagrid. Sure, he was in the movie, but he was only here for two scenes, and them two scenes wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to see him more. Malfoy and his goons barely had appearences too in this one, but they aren’t my favorite characters.
The good news is that there is not as much drama in this one, or any at all. The characters are no longer weak, and hell, Harry could have kicked a few of those kids asses if someone wasn’t holding him back. They are no longer pussies unlike the last ones, especially Ron. That guy changed so much in this film that I think I just may have to pat him on the back and say good job, as well as Hermione and Harry. Daniel Radcliffe is going to be a star in the future; I could see it now. Hell, he’s already done nude plays. I don’t think that your favorite actors like Tom Cruise or John Travolta are doing them. Oh wait, that’s against them rules. Shit… And who the heck is this Luna girl? Her character was weird, but whenever she was off screen (which was for about half of the movie), I missed her appearance. She made me laugh a lot. But the man I have to give it to is Gary Oldman as Harry’s godfather Sirius Black. He wasn’t in much of the fourth movie, but he gets his time here, and a lot of it. It only made me want to say… BINGO!
I rewatched Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets yesterday, only to think back to how young they were back then, and how grown up they are now. This movie only made me realize how much I’m going to miss Harry Potter after the last one is released.
But still, Phoenix it is not as good as Sorcerer’s Stone. I give it 3 out of 4 stars.