Saturday, July 14, 2007


Click to enlargeThat picture shows what I wore today. My sister painted that T-shirt for me, and I wore it to watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix today. For the ignoramuses out there, let me tell you that figure on the T-shirt is the emblem of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school where Harry Potter studies.

I had barely heard the name of Harry Potter when the first movie (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) was released. Since my sister had seen the movie and I was jealous of her, I went to see the movie. And when I saw the movie I was hooked.

I borrowed all four books from my cousin Ananda (who can also be seen here) and finished them in a jiffy. I later read books 5 and 6 as they came out and became a hardcore Harry Potter fan. It's the same with my sister. Now we often use Harry Potter jargon at home. We also watched all the movies as they came out, although I can't say I liked all of them. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the latest movie in the series which released yesterday in India, and I rushed to watch it today with my sister.

And I have a mixed opinion.
Click to enlarge
On one hand, this was the largest book (and probably the best, in my opinion) in the series, and it was impossible to squeeze it all into the movie. Also, thanks to J. K. Rowling's writing prowess, a true Potter fan can never find a movie satisfactory. So the director definitely did a commendable job of including what he did. On the other hand, several key points were omitted which created gaping holes in the plot. I feel only films 1 and 2 can be called "movie versions of the books". The rest are like supplements of the books... like the practical lessons taught with the theory classes. The latest movie is no exception. It's more like "Important events from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" rather than "
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix".

The special effects were good: there were beautiful scenes of night flight over a glittering London. I liked the thestrals. I liked Dolores Umbridge, Tonks, Kreacher, Bellatrix Lestrange, Mrs. Figg and the rest of the new cast. Loony... er, Luna Lovegood is a little too pretty, but I'm not complaining about that. However, Grawp was a bit disappointing... he never really looked real but like a CGI character similar to Shrek. Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall both had very strong roles to play in the book, but in the movie, Prof. McGonagall's character is almost cut out, and Prof. Dumbledore's role has been greatly reduced. On second thoughts, that may not have been such a bad thing after all, as I hate to see Michael Gambon as Dumbledore: he lacks the quiet dignity of Richard Harris. He is too loud, too fast, too angry and tensed. I loved the fact that Hogwarts was shown as never before (except in the first movie). This time a lot of detail of the terrain was shown.

Some things look good in a book, other things are needed in a movie. The book was mostly a large collection of small events that led up to the short climax. The movie obviously has tried to stretch that small climax a bit and I don't blame the director for that. However I do blame the director for what happened to Sirius at the end. If you see the movie you'll understand what I'm talking about.

To conclude I'll say if you have read the book and remember the details, you should see the movie. It feels nice to match your imagination with the images on screen. If you haven't read the book, go read it. Even if you don't see the movie afterwards, the fifth book in the seven-book series is definitely worth a read.


  1. This movie has sparked a great debate about film adoptations of books everywhere.

    I agree with you about Gambon, he is either too angry or too emotional (the scene when Voldemort enters Harry in Ministry). Richard Harris looked and acted Dumbledore.

    Tonks was a bit different than I imagined, and so was no. 12, Grimauld Place.

  2. Wow! Your sister paints very well. Great review too. My new regret about the movie is that I didn't watch it in an IMAX would've been fun.

  3. @fleiger: I thought Tonks was OK. No 12 Grimauld Place wasn't shown a lot. I had imagined it a bit differently too, but that's also acceptable considering only a small portion of the house was shown.

    @crystal blur: Thanks! I really love that T-shirt although I doubt many people recognise the picture. I had watched the IMAX version of GoF in India's only IMAX theatre in Hyderabad. It was great!

  4. That's such a lovely gesture and besides your sister is a wonderful artist too. Haven't watched the movie yet but hope to do it sometime this week

  5. There are many comments to make.
    To being with this is an excellent summary of your assessment on the movie, even though you could have made me a little famous by not merely mentioning me as a cousin, instead taking my name and putting a small hyperlink to the botany lesson and the Rick puller story.
    There are many places where I agreed with you. I happened to have emulated you in the Potter mania by seeing the movie on the first day first show. After the movie I thought the best thing in the movie was that Dumbledore had so little of screen appearance. Nobody can match the performance of Richard Harris. I thought that they did a good job of showing the practice of the DADA. However, I thought that they would show Cho’s friend, I forget her name, who was jinxed for revealing the secret of the Dumbledore’s Army. I thought that they would also show some mess left around by the Weasley twins. Prof Flitwick had indeed left a bit of it as he considered it as a masterpiece of Charms. I also missed the centaur replacement of Prof. Trelawney…but they are small insignificant incidents compared to the larger picture.
    To fit in such a big book in a movie is not possible. Accept it guys, stop criticizing and start praising the excellent work which the director has put up. In my opinion this movie is the best made in the series. I actually liked the way the climax was directed, though the fight between Voldemort and Dumbledore flooded in sweet memories of Ramanad Sagars Ramayan. There are places where events have been shown in not in the exact order as they appear in the book but the way they have been shown in great. I liked every bit of it. There are ofcourse gaps in the movie which if you have read the book would not have any problems with. If you have not read the book, its time you do it. The movie is definitely worth watching.

  6. @anyesha: Thanks, from both me and my sister.

    @tathagata: About making you famous... I think you are already so, and more than me. Even then, I have updated my blog post to include the links you mentioned and one free with that. Happy now?
    Nothing much to add... as I said, I don't believe in nitpicking. But I would have liked to see the confrontations of Umbridge with McGonagall in her class, in the counseling session, and the attempt to arrest Hagrid. Actually that would have given an explanation of why McGonagall was absent towards the end of the movie.
    And yes! Even I was thinking of Ramayan when I was looking at that scene... I guess those days are impossible to forget.

  7. I never found HP interesting. It always seem too kiddish and childish. Things people like when they are 10-12.

    Another reason probably was LOTR, both of them came Indina in almost same time, and LOTR won over HP for me at least.

    I wish you more fun and more HP. Unfortunately series has come to an end with latest book.


  8. ...succeed as a piece of entertainment without quite fulfilling its potential as a movie - New York Times

  9. NIce post dude..T-Shirt too.

  10. I haven't managed to see the movie yet but your nice review is pushing me to see it sooner!

  11. The special one (blush) gifted me this book when we first met. It was Cafe Coffee Day at Lake Road, Kolkata. But to read #5 of the series you got to read the previous 4. Thats why read the first 4.

    P.s. I am not the same person as the Kalyan above.

  12. @ken: Actually if you read all the books in sequence you'll know that the fantasy and kiddish stuff is only a package, and there is a much more adult and real world inside. The LOTR movies are definitely better, but the books are, in my opinion, not as gripping as HP.

    @prakhar: Well... that's what NYT says. What do you say?

    @abhijit: Thanks!

    @shreemoyee: Er... not yet. But I have read it already, and I plan to buy it.

    @kalyan I: Thanks. Do read the books 1-5 first!

    @kalyan II: So the special one is a Pottermaniac too? Did you like the books?