Our fifth Harry Potter film shows that the narrative has stalled in its tracks, and instead of advancing the plot in any meaningful way we should just waste some time. Seriously folks, this is a complete waste.
David Yates takes on the directing duties this time around, so we are in for another stylistic shift. Yates will see the series through, and despite (in my opinion) this being the worst film of the entire franchise, I don’t really think it is entirely Yates’ fault. As the Harry Potter story makes the painfully slow transition from high school drama to war narrative the source material decided it was better to fill in entire books with empty plots and characters
For some stupid reason, no one believes Harry Potter and Dumbledore that Voldemort is back, and this is really where the narrative falters. Potter has been right about just about everything in every movie, so the sudden disbelief is hard to stomach. The movie attempts to justify the Ministry of Magic’s incompetent behavior, but I for one found the entire thing too unbelievable. Mind you, this whole series is about a secret magic world.
Harry is ostracized and almost expelled at the opening of the movie when he must use magic to save his idiot cousin Dudley. I am glad that the story finally decided to make these opening vignettes meaningful to the plot. Good thing it only took five movies for them to figure out this basic aspect of storytelling. So, Harry has to go through a whole trial, which is so forced it is stupid, and we are introduced to our new villain, Dolores Umbridge—real clever name there, Rowling.
Umbridge isn’t a good villain. She is absurdly incompetent and presents herself as an odd mixture of the most annoying traits of both liberal and conservative politicians. She is pro-disarmament, but also pro-moralizing. What we end up with is a villain-sue who adds nothing to the movie. Further, it appears that everyone in the magical world crushed their own skulls in a vice for some of the decisions made. For example, let’s just say that Voldemort isn’t back—fine. However, there WAS a psychopath teaching the school in movie one, there WAS a giant snake in movie two, there WAS a killer (Sirius was never exonerated) on school grounds in movie three, and there WAS a dangerous tournament in movie four. The writers chose to deny the reality of the world they created when crafting this film.
Perhaps even worse is the entire cast more or less cowers to Umbridge. So much for strong characters, right? It is almost like everyone knew that this film would end in a major reset with very little of any consequence happening. Also, the characters just act in dumb ways. Dumbledore decides to ignore Harry for stupid reasons and this stupidity leads to a stupid final act.
The fifth film truly seems to be operating without any existing knowledge of any of the other films. Suddenly, Harry can see the Thestrals because he has been close to death in the last year. I guess everyone forget he straight up killed a dude in the first film. Whatever, I guess that doesn’t count because… wait for it… MAGIC!
The whole crux of the film is that Voldemort is hunting for a prophecy, and now the Order of the Phoenix must stop him. Mind you, in a film called Order of the Phoenix they are stunningly absent from the script. We instead get more dumbass teeny romantic subplots and it is nice that the kids are getting old enough for us to notice they aren’t very good actors.
There have been plot holes in the past, but this is where they really begin to show. We learn that James Potter is not a hero, but a petty jackass bully. What is actually kind of hilarious about this is that Rowling seems to have forgotten to bother with redeeming his character. Nope, James is a piece of stinky garbage, and so were all the other heroes. But don’t worry, we should still support them because the plot tells us to.
In what can only be described as a torturous first ¾ of a film we finally get to the ministry of magic and learn what the prophecy says. In short, “either Harry or Voldemort must kill one another for the other to truly live.” No shit! I am so shocked that this is prophecy, my gosh, you mean to say the psychotic and murderous dark wizard is going to hunt Harry unless Harry kills him. Man, the writing there is so powerful and shocking I think I need to sit down.
The last act of the film (which is incomprehensible cat shit in book) gives us our first proper wizard fight. Unfortunately, for some reason the villains would rather just jump around and wait for the teenage heroes’ spells to hit them in their faces. We also get the treat of the film style that seems to have rabid squirrels attacking the camera man, so the camera shakes like shit.
Helena Bonham Carter joins the cast as Bellatrix Lestrange, which sucks because once the combat begins between the actual wizards we get to listen to hear cackling that sucks any and all suspense right out of the scene. Then, we get to watch her go from smirking badass to weepy moron with no rhyme or reason. Seriously, how the hell did these scenes ever make the final cut?
In the end, after all of this bullshit, we get a cool wizard duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore. That is the only enjoyable moment out of the bloated mess. In the epilogue we get to see that everything in the film has been undone, and now you as the viewer has been tricked out of your money. So, why was the movie made? Well, obviously for easy financial gain. However, the killing of Sirius Black does happen, so I guess that is important. We all need to be honest here though, the only reason this quite unimportant side character was killed (in the film or the books) was to try to shove a tragic moment in the story to mimic the fourth entry. This is a cheap film that serves as the truly unfortunate precedent setter for the disastrous later films. 3/10