Monday, 28 September 2020
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Thursday, 12 July 2007 00:00
My usual mood of exaltation at the release of a Harry Potter film was slightly less intense this year and I don’t seem to be the only one. For me this is explainable by the fact that the fifth book, on which the latest movie is based, was by far my least favorite of the series. I found Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to be a bit listless when stacked up against the others - of course it was still a great book. Also it seems media coverage just isn’t as “in your face” for this film as usual, leading me to believe the same public that raised Harry to such heights is getting ready to smash him back down in the near future. But not with this film, which I feel does a remarkable job cobbling together the most important pieces of a rather drawn out novel.
The first part of the film has Harry battling a couple of Dementors during summer vacation. He manages to fight them off but there’s a catch - it’s illegal to use magic outside of the school year. Almost immediately he is whisked away to the ministry of magic for an intimidating and rather unfair trial. Upon his return to school he finds that life at Hogwarts has become downright hostile. Those who were once his friends now blame him for the death of Cedric Digory and for all the rumors flying about the return of Voldemort. Outcast and plagued with nightmares Harry has to face a new enemy - the feeling of being isolated from those he relies on most.
It’s a trend to say that each Potter film is darker and more somber than the last, and in the case of Phoenix it is definitely true. Harry is battling demons both physical and emotional. But it seems the worst demon of all in this film comes in the form of a prim, sweetly smiling woman named Professor Umbridge. Umbridge is posted at Hogwarts as a spy to the Minister of Magic. Her pink fuzzy kitten broach belies her cruel nature.

The acting is solid in this installment and it seems the young cast are developing their talents in the off-season. Daniel Radcliffe in particular shows some real range of emotion and promise for a future after Potter. It is so interesting to see these kids grow up on screen, especially if the entire cast remains intact throughout the rest of the series. Word is that they’ve all signed back on for acts six and seven, so keep your fingers crossed! Of course the adult cast is incredibly well cast as well, including Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes and a slew of others.

One drawback of Order of the Phoenix is that several new characters are thrown in without much introduction. This could cause confusion for those who haven’t read the books that disclose a bit more information about these newcomers.

Just as the tone of these films gets incrementally darker, the special effects get better and better. This movie may display a lot more emotion but that doesn’t put a damper on the glitz! The spectacular final battle scene that braces Dumbledore against Voldemort himself is incredible as the wizard’s battle with elements of fire and water. Pretty impressive stuff!

I think that the filmmakers did very well with a story that was extremely hard to adapt. Though this installment alone may seem a bit disjointed the loose ends should tie up nicely with the release of the next film. It is fitting that director at the helm David Yates is set to direct Half-Blood Prince as well.

After seeing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix my Potter-Mania has been restored. For now I’ll just have to sit tight until the release of book seven on July 21st! I give Order of the Phoenix 7 out of 10 stars.