Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Nicholas Hooper

 
" producer: Nicholas Hooper, you're going to score the next Harry Potter! Nicholas Hooper: Is it a drama? "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Harry Potter has reached book 5. In this one, Harry takes matters into his own hands and teaches his fellow pupils to be ready for the upcoming war. After all now that Voldermort is free and looking for revenge, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven. Especially now Dolores Umbridge is taking over from Dumbledore. Anyway, I've enjoyed my fair share of Harry Potter movies (the 3rd one is still my absolute favourite), and yet I was quite disappointed when viewing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The trailer promised a lot of action, but in the end it was the only action in the movie and it moved quite slowly, for a Potter film at least. The only thing that could save us now was, ... Nicholas Hooper's score?

Who? Well I'm into film music but I never heard of the man before Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And now, he has just received the chance of a lifetime. After all, Harry Potter was huge, is huge and will remain huge until the final film has aired. And knowing that master John Williams and apprentice Patrick Doyle took it somewhere, unknowing pupil Nicholas Hooper had to take it beyond those well adored and admired scores.

I love it when a new composer gets the chance on something big. It usually results in something worthy. It usually means that those guys are so excited, that their initial ideas are pushed beyond the limit, giving us music that's perhaps too bombastic, or too over enthusiastic. Well not for Nicholas Hooper, it feels like he's scoring a tiny little drama, with an occasional bombastic cue (just because the scene required it).

I mean, where's the enthusiasm? Where's the nerve? Where's the gut? Apart from the sprightly (slightly Irish) opening of "Fireworks" (which holds an obnoxious moment for electric guitar), the playful (but fitting?) "Dumbledore's Army" (I mean, is this the army that has to take down Voldermort?) and the overtly optimistic and heroic "Flight of the Order of the Phoenix" (which doesn't fit at all), we have darker gloom and unemotional soft material. Only by mere sparks do we get music that's strong, interesting and entertaining. Everything else just doesn't rise to the occasion.

I know some of you will go crazy over a theme like "Professor Umbridge" but I don't see the fuzz behind it. It is nice (and yes fitting) but not that overtly special at all. It returns in "Umbridge Spoils a Beautiful Morning", sinister and creepy in "Darkness Takes Over" and performed by hobo in "The Ministry of Magic", but nothing that will make it theme of the year, or even of the score.

For me, the theme of the score remains Hedwig's theme, and though used as much as Doyle's outings (meaning almost none), it is still what Harry Potter is used to hearing. It gets a nice moment in "Another Story" and with additional accordion during "A Journey to Hogwarts". That's it and I honestly don't know if it appeared a lot more in the film (probably because I was asleep).

Besides all that, there are moments were Hooper did it really well. And I honestly mean that. There's a lovely ending in "The Room of Requirement" (though the most of it is childish, light magical material), there's a lovely rise in "The Sirius Deception" and by far the most amazing track is "Death of Sirius". You gotta love spoilers but at least the music's up to par. It explodes when percussion takes the suspense to lovely threatening choral statements, and it shows finally there's potential in the music of Hooper. Honestly, this is the one cue that equals itself with the previous writing of Williams and Doyle.

But all the rest? Bwah, rather forgettable. The basic low emotional feel you're getting from some of the tracks is literally astonishing. After all Harry Potter is about emotion too. And at least Doyle and Williams captured this amazingly easy in the first Potters. But here I feel nothing. "Possession", "The Sacking of Trelawney" or even the big moments "The Kiss" and "Loved Ones and Leaving" are nothing that equals the scope. A send off like the first Potters isn't for every movie, but here it feels like it doesn't end the movie at all. This must flourish, or at least signal that this is the end. Aw man, missed opportunities.

There's a bit of atonal and religious choir in "Dementors in the Underpass", some okay suspense in "Hall of Prophecy" and there's a storm like fury in "Darkness Takes Over" but we barely have something that can hold the weight of the previous Potter scores. This album also re assures you that the movie doesn't hold a lot of action at all, and perhaps that's another downfall of the score. But that doesn't take away that the remainder of the music needs to be dull, or without emotion.

I'm not saying that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is bad, I'm saying it leaves me without satisfaction. Nicholas Hooper landed THE project of his career, and other composers would weave a wand and kill you to get their hands on such an assignment. But I think Hooper didn't exactly understand the scope of this entire franchise. Because I honestly can't understand why Harry Potter 5 leaves me so cold. I always say great music can salvage a bad movie. But sometimes music can take a decent movie down as well, and perhaps that's another reason why I was asleep during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At least they woke me up when Harry was about to kiss his sweetheart for the very first time .... ahhhhh teenage love. Well, back to bed...

Tracklisting

1. Fireworks (1.49)
2. Professor Umbridge (2.35)
3. Another Story (2.41)
4. Dementors in the Underpass (1.45)
5. Dumbledore's Army (2.42)
6. The Hall of Prophecies (4.27)
7. Possession (3.20)
8. The Room of Requirements (6.09)
9. The Kiss (1.56)
10. A Journey to Hogwarts (2.54)
11. The Sirius Deception (2.36)
12. Death of Sirius (3.58)
13. Umbridge Spoils a Beautiful Morning (2.40)
14. Darkness Takes Over (2.58)
15. The Ministry of Magic (2.48)
16. The Sacking of Trelawny (2.15)
17. Flight of the Order of the Phoenix (1.34)
18. Loved Ones and Leaving (3.15)

Total Length: 52.22
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(total of 29 votes - average 3/5)

Released by

Warner Bros 148156-2 (regular release 2007)

Conducted by

Alastair King

Orchestrations by

Geoff Alexander, Julian Kershaw, Alastair King, Bradley Miles & Simon Whiteside

Performed by

The Chamber Orchestra of London