HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
*** (out of 5)
July 11, 2007
Daniel Radcliffe as HARRY POTTER
Rupert Grint as RON WEASLEY
Emma Watson as HERMIONE GRANGER
Ralph Fiennes as LORD VOLDEMORT
Michael Gambon as PROFESSOR DUMBLEDORE
Gary Oldman as SIRIUS BLACK
Imedla Staunton as DOLORES UMBRIDGE
Brendan Gleeson as MAD-EYE MOODY
Katie Leung as CHO CHANG
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: David Yates
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’ll admit I had somewhat mixed feelings about “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” when I walked out of the film. While I’m not a huge fan of the books (I only read two of them before I gave up and let the movies do the talking), I have enjoyed the movie series quite a bit. And while the third film is my favorite so far, I think in general they have gotten better as time has gone on.
As a fifth installment in the series, “The Order of the Phoenix” is really quite good. It definitely lives up to its predecessors, making it a hundred times better than other fifth installments like “Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach” and “Leprechaun in the Hood.”
Still, there seemed to be something missing in this new Harry Potter film.
The story takes up right before Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts. The previous year, he witnessed the resurrection of the evil Lord Voldemort, but no one believes him, except Professor Dumbledore. In fact, the powers that be are so distressed about the possibility that Voldemort has returned that they have started a smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore.
Narrowly escaping expulsion for using magic to save his muggle cousin Dudley, Harry starts the year as an outcast. To make things worse, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is a prissy school mum named Dolores Umbridge (Imedla Staunton). She is determined to put Hogwarts back on the right track, so she overloads the school with rules and removes any curriculum that would teach the kids defense against the dark arts.
However, Harry and his friends know they must learn to fight against Voldemort. They secretly train together for an eventual battle while a small group of adult wizards and witches, led by Sirius Black, revive the Order of the Phoenix to offer resistance to the dark lord.
After letting the film digest, I realized that this isn’t as much a full chapter in the seven-part series, but rather the set-up for the last two films. Like other planned trilogies like “Lord of the Rings” and the new “Star Wars” movies, the first film of three doesn’t offer a lot of plot or action (unless its added as filler as the pod race was in “Episode I”). Instead, it’s prep for two stronger, better films to come down the pike.
The reality is that not a lot happens in “The Order of the Phoenix.” When the credits finally rolled, I realized there were only two things that happened to advance the overall plot – and one of them was something the audience already knew from the first film.
However, I believe that after seeing the next two movies in the coming three years that “The Order of the Phoenix” will be remembered as necessary exposition. It doesn’t hold the action and high adventure scenes we saw in “The Goblet of Fire,” and it’s not as rich of a story as “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” but this movie fits well as a chapter of a greater series.
Fans of the films are going to love it as they love all things Harry Potter. Fans of the book should love it as long as they can accept the fact that this is an 800+ page novel condensed into a two and a half hour film. It’s not the best film by far, in my opinion better than the first one but not as good as the fourth one, but it’s part of the Harry Potter experience that fans will enjoy.