Aug 21, 2015

[Movies] Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

The timing of this blog and when we actually saw various movies has resulted in some quirky timing when it comes to reviews. And it still surprises me when I encounter movies that I was pretty sure that I had reviewed by now and yet the blog proves that this is not the case. And since I'm a bit of a completist when it comes to reviewing various movie franchises, we're back talking about the Harry Potter series today.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth movie in the series and following Goblet of Fire, it has us firmly in the period where the actors are clearly a lot older and quite mature in their manner and presentation, and thus the stories as well match this relative progression.

This movie sort of started out on a rather interesting note with the gathering of the titular order and thus we have a rather serious escalation in efforts to stop the Dark Lord. But at the same time we have an escalation of dangers and not even Hogwarts seems entirely safe with how things are going around this version of Earth. And it makes for some pretty clever movie moments indeed.

Synopsis: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth movie in the Harry Potter franchise. The movie was directed by David Yates and the screenplay was written by Michael Goldenberg as based on the J.K. Rowling novel of the same name.

The movie begins on an odd note with Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is now accused of using magic while underage, although he claims that he had no choice since he cast a Patronus Charm in order to defend his cousin Dudley (Harry Melling) from a Dementor attack. Harry is eventually taken in by the Order of the Phoenix, a secret organization founded by Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to deal with Voledemort's (Ralph Fiennes) inevitable return. The Daily Prophet is running a full smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore and thus things look pretty grim.

Once back at Hogwarts, Harry and the rest of the students meet Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. But she represents efforts by the Ministry of Magic to exert greater control on the school due to their suspicions that Dumbledore is raising an army to challenge the Ministry. But since her lessons are all but useless, Harry and the others decide to conduct practical training in secret using the ever shifting Room of Requirement - a group they ironically call "Dumbledore's Army". And the whole time Harry is trouble with dark dreams that seems to be somehow linked to Voldemort.

The movie, like the book before, really shakes up the old routine of Harry eagerly waiting to go to Hogwarts and escape his muggle family. This time it feels like he's on the run almost from the beginning with brief moments of respite with the Order and at Hogwarts. But with the efforts of Umbridge to execute more severe controls on the school, not even Hogwarts feels safe, all the  more pushing Harry to greater action.

The movie really felt like a turning point in terms of the progression of these characters. As much as it often seems that Harry has largely been inactive or just at the right place at the right time in past movies, this time around Harry had to be a lot more active. If anything, didn't exactly have much of a choice since circumstances pushed him well out of his comfort zone and thus he had to really step up his game. And for the most part being with the Order, which includes Harry's godfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) represents the closest we've seen Harry feel like he had an actual family that loved him.

Now the end of Goblet of Fire was shocking enough with the death of Cedric Diggory. This movie first (1) stresses that the death was highly traumatic on Harry and (2) represented things moving up in terms of threat level. Voldemort is quite done hiding in the shadows and his agents are a lot more active - and yet the Ministry remains in denial of the threat. And thus we have a lot of action happening behind the scenes and even more deaths and all that fun stuff. All this gave the movie something like the feeling of an espionage movie to some degree with more and more elements from the older movies coming into play once more.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is quite the compelling movie that has a lot of action and a lot of intrigue and a decent amount of comic relief. And while the movie ends on a rather tragic note, it's still a great adventure piece. Thus the movie gets 4.5 Death Eaters moving about out of a possible 5.

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