Harry Potter and the Odour of the Feetstink

It's like I work at Mad Magazine with that crazy title. No, here is my review of the latest Harry Potter for those of you who may have missed it on Mix 94.5's The Big Couch (Fridays 4-7pm) in Perth or B105's Labrat, Camilla & Stav (Thursdays 6-9am) in Brisbane.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Rated M

It’s hard for me to be objective about Harry, because I absolutely love the books. To be honest, the first two movies were a bit dull, in fact I’ve never made it through The Chamber of Secrets without nodding off. Even when I watched it as an inhouse movie in a hotel room once at midday. Something about that giant snake always puts me to sleep. The last two, however, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire, were corkers. Fun rides that beautifully captured the spirit of the books.

Order of the Phoenix
was the longest of the Harry Potter books, and it shows in this movie. They have tried to cram so much in, none of the scenes or characters get much room to breathe. If you are going to the movie just to see the book on the screen, you’ll be quite satisfied, but if you are expecting something of the calibre of what has gone before, you’ll be a bit disappointed.

So many of the great actors and characters from the series are given very short shrift – especially the delightful Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, who has been such a centrepiece of the series. I was also disappointed that not much was done with the sublime Ralph Feinnes as the evil Voldemort. Perhaps his busy schedule in the Qantas toilet entertaining Hostitutes prevented him from being available for filming. Even the much publicised addition to the cast of Helena Bonham-Carter, barely gets more than six or seven minutes on screen. Other casualties of the rushed screenplay include Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black, Emma Thompson’s Professor Trelawney, Alan Rickman’s sinister Snape, and the superb Michael Gambon as Dumbledore.

What really caused me concern was director David Yates not having any room to maneuver. The skilled director of high quality BBC dramas State of Play and The Girl in the Café, had his hand forced by the needs of a 20 minute closing scene filmed in the IMAX 3D process, and the “tick all the boxes” script. What starts as a bleak and frightening film early on, ends up confusing and rushed. The ending, while spectacular in 3D on that gigantic IMAX screen, is so dark and murky, it's hard to tell what is happening much of the time.

The only shining light is Academy Award Nominee Imelda Staunton as the hateful Dolores Umbridge. All sweetness and light in her pink twin-sets, her girly giggle hides a heart of hatred and intolerance, and when the time comes for her inevitable come-uppance, you will cheer heartily. What might not make you cheer, however, is the level of scares. The opening scenes with the terrifying Dementors will scare adults, and little kids will almost definitely be horrified. It's rated M for a reason.

Then there is the kiss. It has been talked about frequently since it appeared in the book, and the chance to put it on the screen was always going to be an important moment. Amidst all the other frenetic moments in this edition of Potter, it just becomes another thing that happens. For all intents and purposes, this is a two hour trailer for a book. Afterward, I felt like I’d been reading a Cliff’s Notes primer for a book I needed to read before my exams.

Mix 3½/5 - B105 6½/10