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Not the best, but still well worth the time

  • Dec 20, 2007
Rating:
+4
Pros: Imagery, imagination, pacing, and a fantastic battle

Cons: Dolores Umbrage

The Bottom Line: Ignore the book vs movie battle. If you like the series this won't disappoint. If you are new to it, don't start with this one.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) finds himself in the muggle world during summer break with no contact with the other two who round out his trio: Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). Alone in a playground he is faced with his cousin Dudley (Harry Melling) and his thug friends. They begin to square off when a sudden ominous storm begins. The pair run and are in a sub-street tunnel when everything turns icy cold and Dementors appear each trying to suck the soul out of one of the boys. Harry breaks away and is able to dispatch the creatures. This put him in violation of an underage wizard using magic in front of a muggle. He is notified, almost immediately, by post, that he has been expelled from Hogwarts.

Enter the Order of the Phoenix. A motley group made up of members who fought Voldemort the first time he tried to take over. They take Harry to a safe house. The day after this, he has to face a hearing to determine his culpability. It is obvious this is a show trial because the time of the hearing was changed—luckily Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is there to defend and offer a witness to the necessity of his actions. Harry is acquitted. But all is not well.

The press has essentially blamed Harry for being involved in some way in killing Cedric the previous year; this is so because the press refuses to acknowledge that Harry’s declaration that Voldemort is back. He begins this year as an outcast.

Enter Dolores Umbrage (Imelda Staunton). She has been posted by the Ministry of Magic first as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, then is given the role of grand inquisitor, and ultimately of headmaster.

She spends all of her time creating rules, trying to enforce them, adding rules as the students find ways around earlier ones and so on.

This is the backdrop for the wider story. Harry is enlisted, then firmly comes to embrace the role of teacher in a group Hermione decides to call Dumbledore’s Army. They meet in a secret room called the Room of Requirement (when someone is truly in need, a door appears and the room is equipped with whatever the person required). It is here that Harry teaches his acolytes how to use spells they already know but to improve on and to try new ones. All progress well.

During this, Harry keeps having dreams where he is essentially seeing things through Voldemort’s eyes. The members of the Order become aware of this and try to stop it since this means Voldemort has full access to Harry’s memory and can use it however he likes.

The Army is finally uncovered. Umbrage must do something about it. What happens . . . well.

Harry and the other members of the Army willing to go, find what Harry seeks. And, as a film like this would have it, they find so much more. There is a tremendous battle sequence that follows. I will leave out the specifics in case you haven’t seen the film and use this review to help you decide. I will state the obvious, however. Unless you have been locked in a box for the last 15 years, you know that this is not the last film, therefore Harry survives—how and what else happens . . .

Something truly odd for this reviewer; there are no plot spoilers.

The Order of the Phoenix was always going to be a difficult film to make. Director David Yates and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg do an admirable job, but it appears they were the victim of time rather than story—better an action packed 2 hours than a more meaningful 3. I don’t think the producers really understand that fans would be willing to sit through 4 or 5 hours of the film so long as it continued to be interesting.

Still, we work with what we have.

Phoenix is a dark story. It builds off the death of a student from the previous film, The Goblet of Fire. The setting and mood for Phoenix work very well and do what they can to make up for the shortfall in time. (Allow me this, no novel can fully transfer to celluloid, my complaint isn’t one of transference or interpretation, simply that it appeared that time was more a deciding factor than not.)

The school is dimmer. The characters literally squashed beneath the pink pumps of Dolores Umbrage—and this is where a quirky but effective irony enters. While the rest of the school is dimmer than it had been before in many respects, Umbrage’s office is light and bright and monochromatically pink (I am colorblind and am told it is pink—to me it was a mix of red and gray, but even still the light in the room contrasted enormously). So the evil was in a bright light and the precocious kids were mired in something dingier.

The real magic in this one, however, was the Ministry of Magic. When Harry enters it for his hearing there is a standard business day rush but it is like walking through the lobby of the most opulent bank married to the most opulent law firm and bookended by the most audacious high end stores. Memos are paper airplanes and flitter about above and among the throng. To the eye it is at first overwhelming, then it becomes fascinating as you can begin to take it all in (back the scene up to where Arthur Weasley and Harry first enter the Ministry—it is worth a second or third viewing).

The Hall of Mysteries smacks of two things and the images of both are carried through to the end. It is part Wizard of Oz and part The Matrix. Here is where the truly tremendous battle occurs. Normally things like that give me a bit of a rush then it just becomes noise. Not so here. The battle sequences are just one iota from being over the top, but the special effects team do a fantastic job of making it very adult (The Matrix) but still keeping it just childlike enough that it doesn’t go over the heads of even the most jaded pre-teen (Oz).

I have two complaints, one ties to this essay covering the difficulty of reviewing Harry Potter in general, but complaining vehemently about Umbrage. No one would be able to make Umbrage acceptable. Imelda Staunton (nominated for Best Actress a couple of years ago for her role in Vera Drake) does her best, but this is the worst character Ms. Rowling created so no actress of any quality could make it work. I hated the character and that’s pretty much all I can say about this—it is not the fault of the filmmakers, just something they had to deal with.

The final complaint is the very childish way the movie closes. The Harry Potter films have always been childlike while rarely venturing into the childish. The last couple of lines in Phoenix are a lamentably childish lead in to the next film.

Nearly all of my friends who are Potter fans hated the film. This was my least favorite book, but I thought the film handled in a more than acceptable manner. So, I respectfully disagree with my colleagues here.

Recommended:
Yes

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More Harry Potter and the Order of ... reviews
review by . December 24, 2010
Despite the fact that so many people dislike this volume of the Harry Potter series, this is actually my favourite film out of all of them, mostly because of the end scene at the ministry, the general mix of heartfeltness and humour, and the addition of Umbridge as a secondary villain. I loved Imelda Staunton's performance in this role, as she encompassed Umbridge from the books pretty well. As much as I like this film, there are definitely some things wrong with it.      …
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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a 2007 fantasy-adventure film directed by David Yates and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the fifth instalment in the Harry Potter film series, and is written by Michael Goldenberg and produced by David Heyman and David Barron. The story followsHarry Potter, a teen wizard in his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as the Ministry of Magic refuses to believe the return of the Dark Lord Voldemort, and so appoints bureaucrat Dolores Umbridgeas a teacher at the magical school. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, alongside Rupert Grint andEmma Watson as Harry's best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The supporting cast featuresRalph FiennesMichael GambonImelda StauntonGary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter.

Live-action filming took place in England and Scotland for exterior locations and Leavesden Film Studios inWatford for interior locations from February to November 2006, with a one-month break in June. Post-production on the film continued for several months afterwards to add in visual effects. The film's budget was reportedly between £75 and 100 million ($150–200 million).[2][3] Warner Bros., the distributor of the film, released it in the ...

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