Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was praised by the critics as the best of the series and I have to agree with them. The film shows a different, more complex side to the world of wizardry that gave viewers a new refreshing look at the film franchise.
The film starts off in the muggle world, with Harry and his cousin Dudley in a pedestrian tunnel near a playground when they are attacked by Dementors, the soul-sucking guards of Azkaban. Harry uses his magic to dispatch them, and is subsequently expelled from Hogwarts for using magic in front of a muggle. While at the Ministry of Magic for his hearing, Harry learns that the Ministry is trying to deny that Lord Voldemort is back, and that it was in fact Harry Potter who killed Cedric Diggory! Fortunately, Harry is cleared of all charges and he gets to go back to Hogwarts, where students start treating him differently due to the divide of whether Voldemort is back or not. The ministry hires Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, but the real reason she’s hired is to keep an eye on the students and Dumbledore for the Ministry. Harry, with the help of his faithful friends Hermione and Ron, form “Dumbledore’s Army”, a group of students who want to learn how to defend themselves against the Dark Arts. Together, this underground army must convince everyone that Voldemort is back or else the world of wizardry will be forever changed for the worse.
This film was perfection. It was perfectly paced and combined great special effects with a great story. It made Rowling’s story come to life, and really made the world of wizardry come to life as well. In this film you definitely get to see some of the turmoil and the under-workings of this magical world. The characters were excellently developed and definitely seemed like people whom you could meet on the street. I can’t really put into words why this film felt more special than the others, but it definitely had a different feel. The pacing was perfect, and the interludes with the newspaper headlines really helped move the story along. A lot of times book to film adaptations cut huge amounts out due to time constraints. The newspaper headlines were a way to keep those pieces of the book in, while keeping the total film time at a manageable amount. The headlines reminded me of old films where the flipping newspapers introduced scenes.
Just when I thought a character couldn’t get any cooler and more badass than Lord Voldemort, the introduction of Bellatrix Lestrange happened. Lestrange, one of the female Death Eaters, was played brilliantly by Helena Bonham Carter: adding another level of evil to the Death Eater persona. Once again, I pictured a perfectly nice actor doing terrible things in order to get into the mindset to play a character like this. Helena Bonham Carter is a brilliant character actress, especially in this role. You really feel her evil-ness coming through the screen. (It almost making the viewer want to root for the bad guys so that they could be on-screen more) However, her acting is triumphed by Ralph Fiennes, who returns as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I kept pestering Kim as to when he would return to the screen, and when he finally did, I was at the edge of my seat. He is pure genius in this role, and really defines this evil being that is part devil, part wizard. I really can’t wait to see what happens in the next three films with Voldemort and look forward to many more scenes with Ralph Fiennes.
All and all this was by far my favorite film so far. The story moved at a really good pace, and it contained details that were both visually stunning and important to the series. The special effects were amazing and the acting was really strong. I look forward to seeing what happens in the next chapter of the film and see how the story ends. Like always, I leave you with a question: do you ever root for the bad guys? Deep down is there ever a time where a bad character is written or portrayed so well that you can’t keep yourself from rooting for them?
Until next time, happy viewing.
6 out of 5 StarsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) Warner Brothers PG-13, 138 Minutes