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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
poster from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 7 out of 107 out of 107 out of 107 out of 107 out of 10
Rated: PG-13
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Current Voter Rating: 7.508 (61 votes)
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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix continues the tradition of the Harry Potter film series, bringing to the big screen the fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) as envisioned in J.K. Rowling’s book by the same name. Back are other favorite characters as well including Hagrid, Dumbledore, and Sirius Black along with those we love to hate such as Lucius Malfoy and the Dark Lord himself, Voldemort. And as can be expected, we have new characters, places, and magic.

This time around, Harry's proclamations that Voldemort has returned are met with suspicion and even punishment. It seems the only ones who believe him are his close friends, Ron and Hermione. When Harry and his friends are forbidden from practicing defensive magic in their Defense Against the Dark Arts class, they take things into their own hands, forming a secret society called the D. A. (Dumbledore's Army). The D. A., after several learning sessions taught by Harry, soon find that they are all that stands between Voldemort's Death Eaters and their mission to obtain a secret prophecy concerning Harry and the Dark Lord.

picture from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As is often the case with movies based on a book, getting to see things on the big screen after only having been able to imagine them while reading the book is a real treat. Great examples of this phenomenon are Jurassic Park as well as other Harry Potter films. This movie is no exception. I loved being able to see Harry and his Order of the Phoenix protectors fly over London on the way to Hogwarts. Another such scene, which was quite funny, featured a new character, Tonks (Natalia Tena), who was literally making faces over dinner. Equally funny and enjoyable to see involved a few scenes where Filch, the Hogwarts caretaker (David Bradley), would hang up educational decrees on the wall. I never imagined this wall being several stories and covered with decrees. Very funny!

Although the book is consistent with the others in the series, the movie does have several aspects which seem to break continuity with the other films. This is most obviously due to a new director at the helm (this time around it is directed by David Yates); however, there have been three other directors before him who have somehow managed to keep things fairly consistent. One of the most obvious examples of this occurs at the movie’s opening which involves dementors. In the third film, Prisoner of Azkaban, we saw the dementors as hooded, faceless figures quite similar to the ring wraiths in The Lord of the Rings series of movies directed by Peter Jackson. However, in this film, the dementors are de-hooded and are seen as hairless, featureless, grey-skinned creatures; net, they are totally different. Another example is when Harry communicates with Sirius on the fireplace phone (the floo network as it is called in the book and movies). In the fourth film, the embers of the fire seem to move and form the image of Sirius. In this film, his image appears instead in the flames. Finally, it felt odd to me to see our familiar characters dressed in 80’s clothing. They seemed so ridiculous! The sweaters, in particular, were just awful and distracted me from what was happening plot-wise.

The book is over 700 pages long, if I remember correctly. As you can imagine, in order to fit a novel of this magnitude into a screenplay, much was sped up or omitted. The film essentially follows the same plot, but it has the feel that you are in fast forward. I actually thought this was a good thing. Nothing really happens in the book until the end of the school year, and breezing through it more quickly in the film made it less painfully boring. However, there were some omissions which were somewhat disappointing.

For example,

  • The house elf, Dobby, who found the room of requirement for Harry, was not even mentioned in the film.
  • We didn’t get to see Ron and Ginny playing on the Quidditch team. In fact, we didn’t see any Quidditch at all.
  • Buckbeak, the Hippogriff that Harry helped rescue in the Prisoner of Azkaban and who is now under the care of Sirius Black, was not mentioned in the film.
  • Also noticably absent was a scene involving Ron screaming about how he’d never do that again after riding a thestral (a winged horse-like creature that is visible only to those that have seen death) that he couldn't see. This was one of the funniest parts of the book and was a glaring omission to me.
  • The centaur, Firenze, teaching Divinity class as Trelawney’s replacement was not mentioned, although several of his race are seen in the Forbidden Forest.
  • There are others as well, but I won’t mention them because they could be spoilers for those of you who haven’t yet read the book or seen the movie.

picture from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

While I’m in a complaining mood, let me offer up a couple of examples where this movie did not live up to expectations. The first is that Harry’s dreams about seeing things through Voldemort’s eyes, both in human and in snake form, are very hard to follow. Secondly, I was very disappointed in the portrayal of Hagrid’s character. He wasn’t nearly as mysterious as he came off in the book, and he wasn’t very funny either.

While this film did have its disappointments, there were several things that I truly enjoyed and will enjoy again the next time I watch it. First of all, they really captured the essence and closeness of Harry’s relationship with Sirius when we would see a subtle wink from Sirius to Harry. Sometimes it is the little things that really stand out. Another example of such subtlety is in Ron’s stupid grin after Hermione tells him that he has the emotional range of a teaspoon. This moment was probably the funniest in the film! Thirdly, I was once again so impressed with Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. His performance steals the show in every scene in which he appears. However, a new character dominates this film, and that is Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). I loved how her character was presented in this film. Not only was Staunton’s performance very funny in how she was so evil yet so pleasant sounding, but everything else about her including her clothing and in how her office was decorated really brought this character to life. I especially loved the cat plates! And last, but certainly not least, the final fight scene between Dumbledore and Voldemort was very cool. This is also where the movie strayed from the book. Instead of a fountain that came to life, we get to see a conjured up fire-dragon by Voldemort and a sphere of water summoned by Dumbledore. This really added to the climactic ending and was quite spectacular.

All in all, while I was disappointed at the discontinuity with the other films and the numerous omissions, the movie stands on its own as an exciting piece of work that whisks you away to another world...the world of witchcraft and wizardry...the world of good versus evil...the world of Harry Potter.

picture from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

thumbs up!Not the greatest, but it has an exciting ending.

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So far, the average rating for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is: 7.508 (61 votes)

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