Sunday, 22 January 2012

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Review

When these films and books were current, I basically ignored any publicity surrounding them because I just didn't find it interesting.  Since then, I have not really researched what the public opinion was so I do not know for sure.  But there had to be some controversy surrounding censorship and possible banning of JK Rowling's work.  Because, Order of the Phoenix, she pulls out all the stops and doesn't even try to hide her political views on censorship.  Right from the start and throughout the whole movie, it is one big argument for freedom of speech and expression and allowing people to pursue who they are and their own path.

Do not get me wrong.  I am not complaining.  Even though I don't care for political agendas in my entertainment, this one is done very well.  The character development and story progression with this theme is done in such a way that it invokes the intended emotions from the viewer.  I wanted Dolores Umbridge to get what was coming to her and, by the time that is settled, I actually found myself taking pleasure in the fact that she was being dragged off by Centaurs into the dark forest (something I am not proud of considering how dark these movies are.  Who knows what they would do to her?).  In addition to that, they also do a good job of keeping a lot of it light through the story development montage and I found myself laughing out loud at some of the antics.  Most of the time, when you can make the viewer feel a lot of different emotions so strongly, I feel it is a good movie.

Order of the Phoenix is a lot like the Goblet of Fire though.  It follows the formula of the Harry Potter stories by having a self-contained main story that moves a bit slowly and weakly moves the overall saga along.  Then, with about 1/4 of the movie left, it wraps together and the overall good vs evil saga moves forward more.  For me, this makes the Potter movies a bit weak.  I would prefer if the self contained stories were more interwoven with the overall saga rather than have a movie then part of a bigger movie.  But that does not outweigh the all around great acting, superb effects and excellent casting.  I prefer the Goblet of Fire due to subject matter only.  Order of the Phoenix takes the same formula and produces just as good a movie.

See it.  It's a very good movie.

At this point, I feel I should address the controversy with Christianity surrounding the Potter story.  (I did hear a lot about this because I don't live under a rock.)  (You must also know that I am a Christian and firmly hold my beliefs close to my heart.  But I also live objectively and understand that not everyone shares my beliefs.)  I do see some similarities between the two with the impending apocalyptic struggle between good and evil and a young "messiah" given the task to defeat evil.  But that is where the similarities end.  In Christianity, there is no metaphysical connection between Christ and the devil.  Yes, the devil has minions and Christ has followers and Christ had a crisis of fulfillment of purpose that Potter feels.  But I do not believe Christ struggled with who he fundamentally was at any time.  Christ knew His purpose right from the beginning and had no confusion about how to go about fulfilling His destiny.  He did have an issue with whether or not He was able to go through with it or if He could just give up. While both heroes struggle, they are struggling in very different ways.  Honestly, if the parallel was intended by Ms. Rowling, she did a very poor job of portraying it.  The differences are just too numerous.

The Potter movies are just stories of good vs evil.  Nothing more.  And these morality plays have been told over and over.  Some have been controversial and some have been well received.  Nobody I know attacks the Chronicles of Narnia even though they are actively a retelling of the Great Controversy using magic and fantasy and are not just a parallel of the same overlying theme.  If anything, the Potter movies (especially Order of the Phoenix) are a retelling of Star Wars.  The movie poster (see above) even calls it the Rebellion.  In this film we even get the Obi Wan vs Darth Vader fight while Luke watches.  And they talk about people having both dark and light in them and what they choose is what matters.  This is a struggle that many people believe in.  Whether you think it is two metaphysical forces in the universe (Star Wars and Harry Potter) or a greater struggle between intelligent beings that we are caught in the middle of (Christianity) is up to you.

The Potter saga isn't original.  This story has been told since we were able to communicate.  It also isn't an attack on Christianity or any other religion.  It is just another way to tell the morality story in a way that children and other young people can relate and will pay attention.