Hello again. It feels like it’s been ages since I wrote the last one of these (it has been. I wrote part four in May!) But I’m back now, and I have a full quiver of corrections ready to shoot into the target of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix (or is that cadre of spells in my wand? I’m never sure with metaphors). Regardless, on with the show.
The reintroduction of Mrs Figg to the books was an interesting choice, especially as it was said that she would play an important part in the proceedings. It turned out that she wasn’t quite as important as people initially thought, but she still had a larger role than previous. Her portrayal in the film lacked the backbone of the books. She always seemed like a manic old bag lady; in this she seemed weak and pathetic. She should be a sterner figure, possibly slapping Harry when he goes to put his wand away. It does create a slight juxtaposition to how she acts in the court scene, but it is still fairly easy to explain away as she is nervous about being in front of the entire Wizengamot.
Following the Ministry of Magic’s warnings to Harry against the use of magic to repel the Dementors, he is busted out of the Dursleys’ by members of the Order of the Phoenix. At this point they decide it prudent to fly through central London, along the Thames and past a boat on the river to get to number 12 Grimmauld Place. I’m fairly certain that breaks just about every single law on magical secrecy in one hit. If Fudge had decided to bring that up during Harry’s hearing I expect the book series would have taken a different narrative turn. It makes sense from a cinematographical perspective, (people flying through clouds doesn’t make for a very interesting action sequence) but unless you’ve got all the wizards escorting Harry surreptitiously casting memory charms on everyone who happens to be walking along Embankment you’ve got a major problem on your hands. It would be simpler to have Moody cast some sort of disillusionment charm on Harry and the others to make their movements unknowable, it would take an extra bit of dialogue, and it could be incorporated into watching muggles walk along the banks of the Thames whilst their clothes get blown by a gust of wind, we can then change to a shot of seeing the group of wizards fly past more unsuspecting muggles.
During the film, we never find out what Snape’s role is within the Order. We know from the end of the fourth book that Snape returned to Voldemort as a Death Eater whilst passing information back to the rest of the Order. In the films we are never told this, despite it being a rather important plot point, especially in the Half Blood Prince. Even implying Snape is acting as a double agent would allow the audience a bit more understanding of his character. We know that he was a Death Eater thanks to the trial scene in the previous film, Voldemort even hints at it briefly when he has been resurrected. Having some sort of reference can set up an overarching storyline that helps prove Snape’s fall and redemption in the later films.
This next point is more nitpicky than the rest. But I’m not happy with the use of the Ordinary Boys being played in the Gryffindor common room. I’m aware that it could easily be a muggle born student playing it to their wizarding friends, but it has never occurred before or since in the films, as a result it is very jarring and doesn’t gel with the tone of the setting. It would have been better to have the Weird Sisters from the previous film to write another song, or just not have a song playing in the first place.
Fred and George’s “Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes” makes an appearance in this film, but it would have been nice to add some back-story, such as Harry giving them his Triwizard winnings at the end of the previous story. The joke shop is also the reason why Fred and George leave Hogwarts with such a bang (I’m so, so sorry!). The pranks pulled by Fred and George against Umbridge are very good at showing her ineffectiveness as an authority figure.
Once again we come across a problem that could have been solved by maintaining continuity set up by previous directors (thankfully that stops here as Yates was director for all of the four remaining films) Sirius’ appearance in the fire of Gryffindor common room fire is different to what we saw in the previous film. Keeping the continuity is a small thing but it helps keep the audience (who can be sticklers for continuity (at least in my circles)) pacified.
Returning to Thestrals now. It would be an interesting framing device (and save the FX studios some money) if we were to see who can and can’t see the Thestrals during the flight to London. Harry and Luna’s mounts could be seen underneath them, whilst Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville’s steeds could be invisible underneath them. It would help show the fear that they would inevitably be feeling if they could see the ground moving underneath them with nothing holding them up. It would save money for the FX studios as they don’t have to animate extra flying skeletal horses, just edit out the green screen boxes the actors are sitting on.
That’s the end of another Fix it. As usual let me know what you think in the comments below, I’ll try and get these out quicker than the gap between two and three. They’re starting to get shorter again, the films started to work out what was and wasn’t so important as they got closer to the end.
Keep up to speed with the Harry Potter fixings with part one, part two, part three and part four.