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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Liked the 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' film more than book

I often find myself defending Harry Potter movies... from fans of Harry Potter books.

I seriously don't know why. Maybe these movies represent my belief that one has to treat film adaptations as separate entities from their source materials. I watch a Harry Potter movie based on its actual merits as a movie, and nothing else.

To this day, I find it rather silly that a Harry Potter film is dissed solely because it is not a faithful enough adaptation of the book. Or this actor and that actor sucked because he or she does not look like the illustrations seen the book, or aren't as good-looking as described by Rowling in the original books, feh.

So yes, I usually enjoy Harry Potter films, the only one that I've ever really been disappointed with was the second one, and I gave the last Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire, a pretty positive review (in that post, I also wrote briefly about my thoughts on the other three movies) nearly two years ago.

I don't expect much from a Harry Potter film, I don't buy a ticket expecting to be blown away by a cinematic masterpiece, it's just good populist popcorn entertainment, as long as it can keep me entertained throughout, I'll be happy, the latest film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is no exception. It's good, it's a worthy addition of the film series, I don't discern any major drop in quality from the previous film, it remains visually stunning, the acting is becoming increasingly better (more on that later), and being possibly the Harry Potter film with the shortest running time ever, the pacing is brisk.

I didn't get to catch this film during its release in Malaysia (was busy with the production of a TV movie), I saw this right after I reached Sydney from Chile (you ought to be ashamed of yourself if you still haven't bothered to read a single post from my ongoing series of very poetic blog posts about my beautiful Chilean trip). I had initially wanted to see this in Chile but ended up going for No Reservations instead as the HP5 was dubbed in Spanish.

Not going much into the story as it's probably been provided by countless other reviews of the film. I just want to reiterate that I'm gradually starting to get more and more impressed with the performances from the cast, especially from the three leads, and also from the new cast additions.

I had groaned with the rest of the world when I first witnessed Daniel Radcliffe's first foray as Harry Potter in the first movie, the kid was stiff, and even until the third movie, he just seemed not to blossom as well as the other two, Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron). Granted, Harry Potter is a straight character, while Hermoine and Ron are much more colourful, but the idea of going through the entire series with a guy whose acting doesn't seem much wasn't very appealing for me.

But I was impressed in the fourth movie, noting, in my review then, that he may have gotten more comfortable with his role, and in the latest movie, I can see Radcliffe displaying more range than initially expected. Maybe prancing around naked onstage with Equus had been great training for him.

Daniel Radcliffe in Equus
Daniel Radcliffe showing his butt in Equus

It's unfair to make comparisons, but I seriously believe that Daniel Radcliffe is becoming a more interesting actor than someone like, say, Orlando Bloom.

Harry Potter leering at Hermione

He had managed to hold his own against the other cast members, and I personally find Harry Potter's angst and temper flareups in this film more believable than his literary counterpart, but oops, did I just contradict myself by comparing the film to the book?

Harry Potter films are always interesting because you get to see some of the most respected actors from UK sharing the screen. Veteran stage and TV actors, Oscar winners etc. But the three new addition to the cast leave quite an impression. Helena Bonham Carter is suitably psychotic as Bellatrix, Imelda Staunton is flamboyantly annoying and evil as Miss Umbridge, while Evanna Lynch is very quirky enough as Luna Lovegood.

Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood
Posting all these pics make me feel like a pedophile...

I also liked how the Cho Chang (Katie Leung) character is portrayed more sympathetically in this film, as compared to her literary counterpart, which, in my opinion, was quite a mentally instable, whiny bitch.

... oops, another book-film comparison.

So yes, I'm proud of you, Katie Leung. I'll randomly add a much-talked about music video of Hong Kong pop singer Leo Ku that Katie Leung had recently appeared in. Yellow power!

Leo Ku's old enough to be Katie Leung's dad...

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the last Harry Potter book I read. In some ways, it killed my motivation to read the last two HP books. Not because it was a horrible book (if someone wants to know what a horrible fantasy book is like, go read any Dragonlance book written by Jean Rabe), just that there was quite a quality dropoff compared to the previous book (Goblet of Fire is by far my favourite Harry Potter book).

Ironically, this film actually made me look forward to the next Harry Potter films.

P.S. I like Tonks' purple hair. It's hawt.

Daniel Radcliffe accidentally molests the couch...