Mrs. Dr. Phil figured we should do a Harry Potter 5 pre-lab before going to see Harry Potter 6 today. This was a good call. It's not that we can't remember the gist of the story, but given the time offsets between the releases of the books and the movies, it was useful to remember what we were supposed to know in the latest film.
First of all, we are in familiar territory here -- all but one of the principle stars of the series have survived to this point so far, so we know who they are. And the kids at Hogwarts were recruited when they were appropriately younger, so we are watching them grow up -- which is also pretty impressive.
I guess my basic short comment about Harry Potter 5 is that it is "edited tight". By this I do not mean that it shows crisp, professional editing, though it has elements of that. No, I mean that they've taken the longest Harry Potter novel and had to hack and pare it down to fit in to a movie. This is always a common complaint -- novels are just too long and too full of details and complications for them to make a normal length film. But the thing is that Harry Potter 5 is not a stand-alone movie. There's really no attempt to introduce the characters, the settings, the school, the villainy, etc., from the previous four books/movies. I think it was possible for people to watch The Empire Strikes Back or even Return of the Jedi without having seen the original Star Wars. But I cannot imagine seeing Harry Potter 5 without having ever cracked open a book or movie -- this is a movie for the fans.
In the beginning, Mrs. Dr. Phil asked, "Did we see this movie?" She was, in part, joking. But we only saw it in the theatre once, perhaps, or maybe twice. I had a hard time getting the Widescreen DVD -- twice when I listed it on "greed lists" for the summer birthday bash and at Christmas, the giver gave us the pan-and-scan DVD, which I gave to deserving fans who hadn't seen the movie. Also, this is a dark movie, both literally and figuratively, and the former makes it tough viewing on a TV set. Still, Delores Umbridge is one of the great (and pink) villains of all time -- tremendous performance. Much of the rest of the cast is shown in cameos, though even at that Emma Thompson as Professor Tralawney is heartbreaking in her mumbling downfall. Luna Lovegood is prefect IMHO, exactly as I'd want her to be. And Helena Bonham Carter can play the crazy
I glanced at the Wikipedia entries, to confirm some of the things I knew had been left out of Harry Potter 5 the movie. You want the whole story? Read the book. Same refrain as it's been through the whole story. But it is a great transitional movie as we move out of the young Harry Potter into the realms of the Final Battles for man- and wizardkind. And I think watching Harry Potter 5 followed immediately by Harry Potter 6 enhances both movies.
A movie for those in the know. Recommended