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Right - better get this written up before everything is eclipsed this evening by The Book. Seen at the Light with gillywoo at midnight on Saturday 14th July.

Actually, I'm not sure I have all that much to say about it. Fundamentally, the films are all better if you haven't read the book first (although I suspect the later, more heavily-edited ones may also be a bit more confusing). They make a great stepping-off point from which to progress to the book in order to explore the myriad details lying behind what might otherwise seem like a rather pointless throw-away line or character. But if you've read the book already, they don't tend to add terribly much.

Sadly for me, the last two films have been of books I'd read first, so whilst I've enjoyed them, they've had much less impact on me than The Prisoner of Azkaban did in particular, as the first really dark book to make it to the screen. I'm quite convinced that the films are still really good for people who haven't read the books - Fleur's reaction to Goblet of Fire was ecstatic, while my sister said she thought Order of the Phoenix was the best so far. But I'm condemned to watch them in a different way, now.

Still, be that as it may:

Exceeds Expectations
Umbridge, Luna and Tonks - I knew Imelda Staunton would be ace as Umbridge, although I was a bit unsure about the other two when I first saw pictures of the actresses cast. All three were great, however - although I could have done with Tonks looking a bit more dykey, and getting a bit more screen-time.

Dudley Dursley as a teenaged chav. I wouldn't have thought of it myself, but it was just right.

The Ministry of Magic - the hall with the fireplaces was different from how I'd imagined it, but looked very cool nonetheless. Meanwhile, the Hall of Prophecy and the room with the veil were exactly spot-on (well, I had imagined a torn and dirty actual veil, not a weird shimmery layer, but it worked well enough).

Snape's Occlumency lessons - what there was of them was yummy! Perfect Alan Rickman fodder. But see also below.

Trolls
Emma Watson's acting. I've not felt the need to single her out as disappointing before, but what irked this time round was the pause + dramatic intake of breath that she'd apparently been instructed to do before virtually every line she spoke. I've no idea what it was meant to achieve, and it felt very unnatural.

Snape's Occlumency lessons - not enough screen-time! Especially for the flash-backs to Snape's own past. I'm not worried about Snape's Worst Memory being seen through legilimency rather than the Pensieve - but given the emotional importance to Harry of both the Marauders and Snape's relationship with them, it did need more than a 5-second glimpse, particularly to bring out Lily's defence of Snape and then his insult to her.

Overall
Editing a novel the length of Order of the Phoenix down into a successful 2.5 hour film is a remarkable feat, and the fact that the script-writers managed to do so is a credit to them. I don't agree with those who suggest it means that JKR's original book could therefore have been edited down, too, though. Personally, I want every detail I can get out of the books, and after all I can take as much time as I like to read it, without having to worry that I'll miss bits if I go to the loo. But I also think there is a middle ground to strike between film and book. I could readily have sat through another half hour of footage if it had meant that some of the supporting characters had got more time to develop - particularly Tonks and Snape, whom I thought most deserved it. Sometimes, it felt as though I was watching a m15m summary, rather than a full-length movie.

OK, that's quite enough now. I'm trying to finish re-reading Half-Blood Prince before tonight, but have only got up to chapter 10 so far! Must get back to it...

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
meerium
Jul. 20th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
d'you know, i've always thought that the late charlotte coleman would have been perfect as tonks. i'm yet to see the film owing to pay issues, but i'm pretty convinced that, no matter how good the actress playing the part is, i'm still going to be wishing that charlotte coleman hadn't died.
strange_complex
Jul. 20th, 2007 03:28 pm (UTC)
Gosh, yes, she would have been excellent! Actually, I must confess I didn't know she had died. But I remember her from Four Weddings and a Funeral, and she does have exactly the sort of look Tonks needs.
meerium
Jul. 20th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
iirc, she died very suddenly not long after 4 weddings, from an asthma attack, believe it or not. but yes, it's the memory of even her character in 4 weddings that makes me think she'd be perfect! ah well!
davesangel
Jul. 21st, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
Ooh yes, Charlotte Coleman would have been perfect. Strangely, though, given the Lupin/Tonks relationship in the books, I always thought that Anna Friel (David Thewlis's real-life other half) would have been a good choice as well. I always picture Tonks as really small and not as tall as Natalie Tena (or whatever her name is)...and Friel seems to fit the part (well, would do if she had short violet hair :P).
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
Jul. 20th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, I expect it will improve on subsequent viewings, especially since so much of it was rather fast-moving. I'll certainly be getting the DVD anyway, so that I can enjoy it at my leisure.
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
Jul. 20th, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, actually that's the same for me, too. Of course, Prisoner is particularly Snape-heavy, which might just be a factor for both of us! ;-)
sir_didymus
Jul. 20th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC)
The DVD release will probably/hopefully have deleted scenes with Snape.
strange_complex
Jul. 20th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's the good thing about the DVDs. I shall await it eagerly!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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