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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
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Yeah, I'm taking a break from moral philosophizing to review the new Harry Potter movie.

Overall, I liked it. I'm not a big fan of the franchise, books or movies. I read the first book, and part of the second, but just didn't get sucked in like...oh, the rest of the English-speaking world.

So the main problem I've had with many of the previous movies is that I felt like I was watching an abridged version of the story. And I was. They felt choppy, with abrupt shifts in plot and important stuff left out.

Order of the Phoenix as a bit of that feel, but not nearly as bad as the previous movies. The plot moved along nicely. The direction was solid. The visuals were really nice.

But a couple of things still bug me about all of the Harry Potter stories. First, a lot the things that happen feel very ad hoc. Plot elements feel like they're being made up on the fly, rather than being part of a logical whole. Before you say, "It's just a story" or some such nonsense, satisfying stories are usually a result of a protagonist actually having to struggle in some sort of conflict, and either failing or prevailing due to some inherent positive attributes like love, loyalty, cleverness, etc. For example, if in the final installment, Harry is just walking in the forest and happens to find a magic scroll that has an incantation that instantly banishes anyone whose name starts with "V" to the netherrealm, and he just used it on Valdemort when he showed up, and the credits rolled, you'd feel screwed, right? Well there's all sorts of stuff like that in the Harry Potter stories, and I think it's kinda lame.

The other thing that bothers me is the fundamental Us vs. Them structure between kids and adults that Rowling sets up and perpetuates. I know this is probably part of the appeal of the books, but it makes the plot feel very artificial (and repetitive) when the adults know all sorts of crucial information that could avert disaster if they just told Harry, but they don't. And vice versa. Dumbledore keeps using the excuse that he just wants to protect Harry by not telling him all sorts of horrible things. But that just makes him look like an idiot. By this point, Harry has come face to face with Valdemort, squared off against Dementors, and so on. It's pretty stupid (and a hackneyed plot device) to not sit him down and tell him what's going on.

Anyway, rant off. Those are just overarching quibbles with the themes and storytelling. This one is still better than the Goblet of Fire, and a decent piece of bubble gum for the mind during the summer.

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