'Order of the Phoenix' preview screening report

Harry Potter Fan Zone reader Courtney was lucky enough to attend an advance screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix this week, and was kind enough to share some info on the film. Please note that the following interview is extremely detailed, and includes an abundance of film spoilers.

How did you get invited to attend the screening? Do you know if this was the first screening?

I was at the movie theatre, going to see The Number 23; a lady came up to my friends and told us that there was a sneak preview of a "new holiday movie" the next weekend. She told us that if we liked any of the movies on a list (this included all the HP movies and LOTR movies) that we would like this one. She handed us the flyers and told us to RSVP. When we arrived at the actual screening, a man told us that we were one of the first audiences to see it. I think it was the second screening of it, though.

What was your initial reaction?

I was insanely pumped on adrenaline because I was excited to see it. My friends and I were joking around beforehand saying that it would be sweet if it was HP. When they told us it was, the whole audience cheered and whooped.

What was it rated? How long was it? How far along was it in terms of completion?

On the flyer it said that it was a PG film. I believe it was approximately two and a half hours long. It was pretty far along in terms of completion. The dementors, Kreacher, Grawp and the centaurs weren't finished. There were random blue/green screens. Voldemort's real nose was still on [his nose was digitally edited out in Goblet of Fire]. There were markers still in place, and the music wasn't all there.

How did the movie begin? How was the Dementor attack at Wisteria Walk executed?

thumb_1The movie started off with Harry sitting on a swing in a park. Dudley's gang comes along, taunts Harry, Harry pulls his wand on Dudley and the sky goes dark. Dudley's gang runs away, and then a few minutes later Harry and Dudley run away, too, as it starts to pour with rain.

They come to an underground alley. The lights are flickering, the walls are filled with graffiti. There's a change in the air, and then the dementor's come on screen. I thought that the dementor attack was really well done and very entertaining to watch.

Can you comment on the new actors and actresses?

I have to say that I LOVE the fact that they cast Helena Bonham Carter for the role of Bellatrix Lestrange. I think that she is an amazing actress and played the role to a tee. I believe that Evanna Lynch was perfectly cast as Luna, too. She was exactly what I imagined Luna to be. She did a fantastic job. Imelda Staunton also did a great job as Dolores Umbridge. She pretty much embodied Umbridge's spirit.

Could you describe the performances of Lynch, Staunton and Bonham Carter?

I'll start with Helena Bonham Carter: She has a way of playing characters who are a bit insane (i.e Marla in Fight Club) and she knows exactly how to do it. She looked exactly like you would picture someone who breaks out of prison to look. She is dirty, her hair is all a mess, and she is pretty much a lunatic. She did a good job, and that's the truth.

Evanna Lynch is great as Luna Lovegood. She is whimsical and puts on an excellent performance as someone who is aloof, but still has a good sense of understanding of what is going on around her.

Imelda Staunton totally embodies Dolores Umbridge. She knows the character well and has a great way of playing her.

How was the Young Marauder's scene? Was it brief? How was the acting?

It was very, very, brief. It was a disappointment. It was one of my favourite chapters in the book, and to narrow it down to probably a minute – it was such a letdown. I can barely comment on the acting because all they pretty much did was show James lifting Severus in the air and everyone laughing at him. There was no Lily standing up for Snape, or Snape calling her a "filthy mudblood" as was in the book.

Can you describe some of the major sets, including the Ministry of Magic, the tapestry at Grimmauld Place and the portrait of Sirius' mother?

thumb_hp5d-15101rThe Ministry of Magic set was spectacular. It was probably my favourite set in the movie. It was very official looking, but fun at the same time. There was a giant picture of Fudge that seemed very reminiscent of posters that the Communists would put up to glorify their leaders. Grimmauld Place looked exactly like I had imagined it. It was all broken-down looking. The tapestry was insane. I thought it was very decorative. There were pictures of each person who was on the tree (that wasn't burned off, mind you).

Could you describe some of the major scenes, including Fred and George's exit, Harry and Cho's kiss, detentions with Umbridge, the Advance Guard, and Sirius at the veil?

thumb_hp5-tl-0444aFred and George's exit has to be, in my opinion, the most disappointing scene of the entire movie. It is my favourite chapter in Order of the Phoenix and it was horribly executed. In the movie they have the fifth years taking their History of Charms O.W.L. and they hear bangs. Umbridge opens the door and in flies fireworks – just normal fireworks – nothing spectacular. There's no pinwheels, nothing exciting to say the least. There was no swamp; they didn't hail their brooms from the dungeon. They didn't tell anyone to “give her hell” from them. The only word I can think of is: disappointment.

thumb_hp5-tl-0444a-4In terms of Harry and Cho's kiss; it's the last meeting of the DA before term break, Cho is taking a while looking at a board that has articles on it, and a picture of Cedric Diggory. Harry tells Ron and Hermione he'll catch up with them later. He goes over to Cho, and they start to talk. Cho points out the mistletoe, and Harry says it's probably "infested with nargles". Cho asks what they are, and Harry says "never mind".

They then lean in for the kiss. The kiss itself was a lot longer than what I had expected. I thought that it would be just a peck, but it wasn't. The scene then fades out.

The detentions with Umbridge: I have to say her office makes me laugh. There's cats everywhere! The way that they had the words appearing on the hand was pretty good. Dan did a good job acting as if he was in pain. That was the only time they showed just Harry in detention with her. There was another scene of her giving detentions, but it was to all the DA members.

How were the scenes invlolving Christmas at Grimmauld place, St. Mungo's and Voldemort and Dumbledore's duel?

Christmas at Grimmauld Place was short. Instead of going to St. Mungo's (it was cut out entirely), Arthur came to Grimmauld Place for Christmas. Voldemort vs Dumbledore was a really good fight scene that I think is going to be ten times better once all of the effects are finished.

So the storyline featuring Neville and his parents was axed?

It was. However, Neville mentions to Harry in a scene after one of the DA meetings about what happened to his parents and asks Harry not to tell anyone because he's not ready for everyone to know.

How was the Ministry of Magic set up? Were all of the rooms present? How exactly was the veil portrayed?

thumb_hp5d-14165The Ministry of Magic was good. I loved the corridor. The only rooms that were shown were the ones filled with prophecies and the veiled room. There was no Ron fighting the brains. There was a giant archway in the middle of the room, and it seemed to me that the only people who could see the veil were the ones that had seen death. The veil was eerie looking.

How were the Dumbledore's Army scenes? How many meetings were shown?

thumb_4The DA scenes were good. They lightened the mood of the movie. I believe there was around three or four shown.

Were O.W.L.'s of any great significance?

O.W.L.'s were definitely not of any great significance at all. The only owl that was shown was History of Charms [followed by Fred and George's exit].

Were Grawp, the Thestrals and Kreacher done well? How prominent were their scenes? How far along was the CGI?

They weren't finished yet. They looked like cartoons – I'm really excited to see what they look like once they're finished. I believe the Thestrals were done, but you never know. Kreacher was barely in the movie. There were probably two to three scenes that he was actually in. The Grawp scenes were more prominent than the others.

How do you think Tony Maudsley did as Grawp?

He sounded like a giant – and he got the job done.

Could you comment on some of the less substantial roles and their screen time (Bonnie Wright, Julie Walters, Chris Rankin, Jamie Waylett, Devon Murray, the Dursleys, the Patil's, etc.)?

Bonnie Wright, although hardly in it, did a great job. Ginny is a powerful witch and Bonnie knows how to play a powerful character. I'm sad that Mrs Weasley wasn't heavily featured. They cut out a lot of the scenes with her. However, she knows how to play her character.

thumb_dudley6Chris Rankin [Percy] was only in the movie for the Wizengamot scene. From memory, he probably only had one line. The only time Crabbe and Goyle were shown was when they were Umbridge's goons in the inquisitional squad. Devon Murray [Seamus] did a great job in the one scene that he was in (when he told Harry that his mum didn't want him to come back to Hogwarts).

The Dursleys were entertaining as always, especially Dudley. His clothing made me laugh. Many of the minor characters didn't have any lines at all, they were just there for things like the DA scenes or simply walking around the school.

Can you comment on the overall quality of the acting? Was there any relationship foreshadowing?

thumb_hp5-tl-0444a-2The acting was very well done. I have to say that Dan keeps getting more and more impressive as an actor. I can't wait to see what he brings to the future films [Dan recently signed on for the last two films]. Rupert and Emma's acting was well done, too. They all seem to fit their characters. Hopefully they will sign on to do the rest of the films, too.

The only relationship foreshadowing was Ron/Hermione. There are subtle hints such as things they say to each other and glances where you can tell. There's one scene in the Room of Requirement where they have to stun each other, and you can tell that there is going to be something between them.

How was the pace of the movie? Did it flow well? Many people felt Goblet of Fire moved too quickly.

Many people will probably think that this film moves too quickly. I thought it moved just fine for the amount of scenes that they put in. It certainly wasn't choppy at all.

What was the overall tone of the movie?

Since "dark and difficult times lie ahead" was what featured at the end of Goblet of Fire, this film tried to get that across: that times were becoming dark and difficult. They did a fairly good job of getting it across, too.

How did Nicholas Hooper's score sound in comparison to past films? How much of the soundtrack would you estimate was completed and overlayed in movie?

It seemed to fit the film very well. But I think that each of the soundtracks fit each film very well. The music went along with the mood of the film. Most of the soundtrack was completed. There was only one scene when they had a filler song (it was Regina Spektor).

Overall, how was the movie different from the book? What were the biggest differences you noticed? Any small ones you picked up on?

thumb_yayThis movie actually followed the books better than the other ones did. There weren't really any major differences. There were just left out scenes that fans of the books would have liked to have seen. There were small differences, however. Cho was the snitch, but that is explainable since they would of had to bring an entirely new character into the movie.

Harry starts his Occlumency lessons right after he sees the vision of Mr. Weasley being attacked. Umbridge doesn't try to grab Sirius' head out of the fire. They didn't meet Luna on the train, they met her on the carriage ride to the castle. They didn't show Ron and Hermione being made prefects.

What was your overall reaction to the film?

My overall reaction was that it was well done for a movie rendition of a book. I'd rate it 3.5/5, which is the best rating I have given any of the movies. I'm very cynical when it comes to transforming books into movies, since I always think that they could have put more in.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

- 5/3/07

Harry Potter Fan Zone would like to thank Courntey for her time in putting together this interview.