Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

Colin:

Good movie. Hated the book. HATED the book. Or, I guess I just hated Rowling for writing the book the way she did. So when I call it a good movie, I have to separate its creative qualities from the story.

Let’s take stock for a second. We lost Gary Oldman. We got a fine Asian girlfriend, then lost her needlessly and never looked back. We lost Gary Oldman. Harry’s an asshole for the whole movie. For [sorta] the first time ever, we have Dumbledore showing weakness and making judgement errors. 

Let’s be honest here — I was pissed about Cho for reasons other than the Asian-ness, although that was a factor. She had a good arc. We meet her way in advance, have the whole thing with Cedric, and he goes through the paces with her for two years. Even though it starts out as a love-at-first-sight thing, by the time they finally get together, I believe it. Then what happens? We see them together once, when he ditches her to go see his big, fat friend, and after that he dumps her for something without knowing the consequences. At least Rowling made it marginally okay by making Cho somewhat contemptible, defending her friend who had betrayed Dumbledore’s Army. But in the movie, there’s no friend and Cho is basically tortured and given truth juice, so she’s completely innocent. Harry realizes what a dick he’s been when Snape tells Umbridge about the Veritaserum, and if Severus Snape is making you feel like a dick, you MUST be fucking up. 

 We lost Gary Oldman. Why would you do that, Rowling? That’s one thing where, of all the alterations they could have made between the book and the movie, I’d have been cool with that. Eh, he had to die, but shit.

And talk about Dumbledore fucking up, huh? Leaving them all alone the whole year, on some bullshit excuse that it would cause Harry pain to be involved? What the hell is that about? The bit at the end was badass, but the whole first half of the year sucked. He does nothing to stand up to Umbridge, and when he finally makes his baller exit, it pales in comparison to what he did in the book. 

I’m not even going to get into all the stuff that was wrong in terms of continuity or lack of explanation. Like the wispy flying-ness. Still don’t know what that’s about. But anyway, these little things added up over the course of the film, as usual.

This is possibly the first time the CGI wasn’t really bad at some point. Graup didn’t look great, but he wasn’t as bad as Buckbeak or any of those other weird creatures. Even the thestrals looked pretty decent. You know, for emaciated, black Pegasuses with no feathers.

Unfortunately, we’ve just come to the point where the damage to this series is irreversible. I’m going to get more and more unhappy with the story as we go (for the most part. A lot of the stuff that’s coming is fucking sweet.) although the films themselves are going to be good. There’s way more badassery coming along, which is always good. But this is the film where a lot of my hopes and dreams for the rest of the series died. Some literally died. We lost Gary Oldman.

My Final Thoughts:

So upset they killed Sirius. May never get over it.

As for the book — I did like the book. Though I liked how they handled Harry’s anger in the movie better than the way they handled it in the book.

I’ve always really liked this movie, I think it’s one of the best in the franchise, and I’m afraid that if I start nitpicking, I’ll start to like it less. Since there are a lot of logic flaws here, which come in these later movies due to all the shit they cut for time constraints. The whole Dumbledore’s Army thing is horribly underdeveloped here. Horribly. It was such a huge deal in the books, and here it’s just a montage and three spells. What the fuck? The real Dumbledore’s Army would be Hermione doing the teaching and Harry being the leader and showing them how to do spells with confidence and battle experience. I’m not even talking the book, I’m talking character-wise. Harry shouldn’t be teaching other people spells when he barely knows any himself.

I also obviously don’t care as much about the Cho situation as Colin does. Personally, I’d rather him end up with Hermione. That’s my beef. Especially given how the movies were setting it up. I never really gave a shit about Cho as a character, and I feel like her being Asian is mostly the reason for Colin’s disapproval. Any time in a franchise your main character starts dating someone midway through — you know it’s not gonna end happily unless it’s another main character. And even then, it’ll probably end happily after ending horribly at least once in between. So that’s not even remotely a big deal to me.

I do, however, have major issue with them completely doing a 180 with Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione. That’s just poor planning. It actually starts to come off in the movie that Ron is a consolation prize for Hermione, and the only reason it works is because they make Hermione do all the heavy lifting, emotionally. (Deathly Hallows Part 1 for Hermione — the franchise owes so much to that movie. But we’ll get there soon.)

Otherwise — great casting with Umbridge, since in the book I thought they played her as a big fat fuck of a woman who’s just a cunt. Here, I like how they emphasized the right qualities of her. For some reason, when reading the book (which, admittedly, was like, the day it came out, and once), I always felt like they were talking about how toad-like she was and pictured her as this 65-year old Jabba the Hut looking woman. The movie completely gets the character right by making her truly evil. Ideological evil is much better than cartoonish evil. I’m not saying the book does it improperly, I’m just saying — the movie embellishes the right characteristics. So I’m a huge fan of that.

Do we even need to get into the pitch perfect castings of Bellatrix and Luna?

What I love about this movie is that it’s perfect at the beginning and it’s perfect at the end. I can do without “Big D” and his “crew,” but once they start running when it gets dark, the film is incredible all the way up to the end of the trial. I think they did that perfectly. Because it sets up everything, it keeps a strong tone, and really keeps the plot of the overall franchise moving forward. Extremely well done. I love them coming to pick him up (though I feel like the line, “Don’t break rank even if one of us is killed would have been better served for the second “Get Harry Out” sequence,” but it’s but a minor quibble), and I love the bit with the trial. Dumbledore is a straight gangster here (even if he is a huge dick to Harry for the rest of the movie).

And the Department of Mysteries finale is absolutely spectacular. I think the entire thing is nearly perfect, save about three of four critiques. Notably — the weird smoke wisps that both sides have, that are never seen again on the good side, the (slight) mishandling of Sirius’s death. I’ve come way around on this one. I think Radcliffe’s reaction afterwards does work, though I still feel like the death should have been as tragic and as traumatizing as it was in the book. I think we can all say — we might never get over Sirius dying in the books. And I knew Gary Oldman was playing that part, which made it even worse for me. And in the movie — it just didn’t have that effect on the audience. I didn’t feel it. I don’t know what’s missing, since Radcliffe did everything he needed to do, and everything Harry did afterward fits perfectly. But something just wasn’t there. And I hate that. And the other thing I don’t like — how they didn’t go into more detail about Harry actually using Crucio. That was such a big element of the books, Harry starting to use the Unforgivable spells and how big a deal that was that he was stooping to that level. (Even though, honestly, fuck it. They’re using it. This is war, motherfucker.) It’s weird how they gloss over that.

But other than stuff like that — I love that entire sequence. The part with Voldemort getting into Harry’s head, the fight with Dumbledore, “I’ll never be like you,” and “You’re a fool, Harry Potter” — brilliant. Absolutely perfect.

(That scene in Dumbledore’s office afterward… ehh, not so much.)

The stuff in the middle — mostly good. I feel like they gloss over Umbridge turning the school into a fascist state and they gloss over Dumbledore’s Army. I think the part with Trelawney getting fired is absolutely amazing and the part where we see why Fred and George do what they do is really good as well.

Not enough Malfoy in this movie. They gloss over Maggie Smith. Lupin is barely present, as is Mad Eye. They start to cut out a lot of these supporting characters, and it does them a huge disservice later when we’re supposed to feel for them.

But for the most part — I like more of this film than I dislike.

Also, what happened to Umbridge in the forest with those centaurs? Very bizarre that she shows up in Deathly Hallows completely unscathed, considering those motherfuckers really should have killed her and buried her deep in the forest as they made their way to a more enlightened area of the country. How does she get out?

And on that note — why did they cut out the centaurs? I’ll never forgive them for cutting SPEW, but at least give the fucking centaurs something. Oh, but we need Grawp and Hagrid’s domestic abuse scene, though, don’t we? Remember when Firenze was the divination professor for part of this book? The disinterest the films have toward creatures is spectacular.

But the thestrals. We know all about the thestrals.

Oh, also — that last scene — how about a fucking ending line to your movie that’s not an ellipses? “We have something he doesn’t have. Something worth fighting for.” … what the fuck is it? I know it’s friends, because you fucking said it three minutes ago during the climax, but maybe not phrase it just like that. (Especially while you’re wearing that fucking corduroy jacket.) Really dumb final scene that feels tacked on. Total anticlimactic ending.

Otherwise — great job of how it looked, the Department of Mysteries sequence is incredible, visually.  I like how they’ve completely shifted the tone. I like a lot of things about this movie. Personally, it’s a top four of the franchise for me. Probably top three, but it depends on what day you ask me. Top four for certain.

Tomorrow we begin Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which is a movie that looks fucking spectacular (it’s clearly the #1 movie, visually, along with Azkaban), but is probably the worst movie, plot-wise and execution-wise, since Chamber of Secrets. The amount that’s wrong with that movie and that book is astounding.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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