Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" took in $140 million domestically and an additional $190 million from foreign theaters in the first five days of release. Author J.K. Rowling called it the best yet, when referring to the film adaptation of part five of her seven-part literary phenomenon. She might be a bit biased, but in the case of "Order of the Phoenix," she just may be right.
Along with J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling has accomplished something in the last 20 years that no other authors have been able to do, get America's youth to read for entertainment. With the Lord of the Rings trilogy and even more so with the Harry Potter series, youth of all nationalities and social groups are reading along.
The film adaptations have certainly had a major impact in inspiring loyalty from today's adolescents. Make no mistake though; the films are in a different category than the books when it comes to audience.
The books have all been geared for anyone pre-teen through adult. The film adaptations have increasingly become darker and geared more toward the young adult crowd.
"Order of the Phoenix" has themes and scenes that could cause unsuspecting adults to have a nightmare or two let alone young children. Part five in the film's series certainly lives up to its PG-13 rating.
As one might expect, the returning cast members all perform extremely well this time out. Finally, Draco Malfoy's character has been written effectively. Not since the first film do we see his truly duplicitous nature come through. They could have given a little screen time to his relationship to his father, the Death Eater Lucius.
Imelda Staunton is perfect as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Dolores Umbridge. Staunton's Umbridge is someone that audiences will love to hate. Helena Bonham Carter is simply fantastic as the Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange. The Rowling books describe Bellatrix as having mad eyes and a fanatical glow about her face, a sadist with a fierce and dangerous temper. Carter plays her to the hilt, kind of like a twisted goth princess.
As characters and plot lines become more complex as the series unfolds, it becomes necessary to delete situations and circumstances from the books just for the sake of time when adapting to film. Either that or directors would have to follow Peter Jackson's lead and make each film three-part epics themselves as he did with Lord of the Rings.
One glaring miscue is the depiction of Neville Longbottom's evolution and family history. Book five was Neville's time to shine. In parts one through four, Neville has been kind of a social outcast who often spends a lot of time isolated from others. In book five, readers learn how important his parents, Frank and Alice Longbottom were as original members of the Order of the Phoenix and how they were driven insane by the like of Bellatrix Lestrange.
Neville vows to avenge his parents. In the film version, this is given no real time at all other than Neville blankly looking at the photograph of the original members of the Order or his wand action in the battle. Mere seconds accorded to a key point in the book.
Harry Potter is a phenomenon that the likes of which have not been seen before. At 12:01 a.m. Saturday, final book in the series will be released to worldwide fanfare.
While the release of the new book might help sell movie tickets, It's not necessary to further hype the film. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" stands well on its own as one of the better films in the series.
John Malgesini is a teacher at Umatilla High School.