Plot Summary: After an attack by Dementors in Little Whinging nearly leads to his expulsion from Hogwarts, Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts once again. In his fifth year, Harry will have to confront a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher whose personality is like, as quoted, poisoned honey, mysterious nightmares that are tied to events in the real world, and the all-important O.W.Ls examinations that will determine his future. If he’s still alive by then, that is.
Why is it that I can’t seem to understand the Harry Potter movies until I’ve read the book? I was totally lost the first time I watched this film, and only partially understood the second time because my friend was giving me a scene-by-scene explanation of the movie. The third and fourth times (yes, I’ve watched this movie four times) I fared better.
So, ranting aside, how was the plot? Well, truth be told, when you’ve been treated to plots as complex and multi-layered as those in the previous two films (and books), you can’t help but be disappointed by this film. Sure the plot is good, but it just doesn’t live up to its predecessors. And while you know this is hardly the film’s fault, it’s difficult not to feel a little bored and distracted throughout the film.
There’re little bits of plot details that are in the book but not in the movie. While minor, this plot details allow you to understand the story better – for instance, how did Harry and his friends get into the Ministry of Magic? How do you even get in? Where is it anyway? And what happened to Umbridge in the end? It’s little things like this that hamper my overall enjoyment of the movie.
Character and Acting:
Thankfully, what the movie lacks in terms of plot, it makes up for in terms of character. The character development in this film improves upon its predecessor, but be warned: the only character that develops in this film is Harry, and he goes through quite a lot of tempers and emotional breakdowns in this one, which might put some people off.
What disappointed me, though, was the fact that Ron’s character development was nearly left out altogether. In the book, Ron joins the Quidditch team and learns to overcome his self-doubt, which makes for great character development on Ron’s part; this is sorely missing from the movie.
The character of Dolores Umbridge is played to perfection, though Umbridge was a more detestable character in the book. Bellatrix Lestrange is superb too, with equal parts menace and madness.
I loved the scene where Umbridge is questioning Snape:
Umbridge: [during an inspection] You applied first for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, is that correct?
Umbridge: But you were unsuccessful?
Snape: [with annoyance in voice] Obviously.
Snape: [hits the back of Ron’s head with a book]
Grimmauld Place is appropriately dark and dreary, but the Department of Mysteries is less than spectacular. Where’s the tank with brains floating around in it (I’m not kidding)? Where’s the room with all those time apparatus and the egg that kept hatching and becoming an egg again? These were the things that made the Department so eerie yet fascinating, and sadly they weren’t translated from book to screen.
Visual and Sound Effects:
Watching this movie, I got a sudden understanding of the term ‘big-budget production’. The effects and accompanying score and done so meticulously you can’t help but think these people really love their craft. The best scenes, in terms of the effects, are those at the Ministry of Magic.
Conclusion: Harry’s fifth outing is less magical than his previous outings, but Harry Potter fans eagerly throw themselves in anyway.
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Rating on IMDb: 7.3
Viewing history: Seen 3x. Once on DVD, once in school, once on TV.