For those of you living under a rock the past decade, Harry
Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix is the fifth book of J.K.
Rowling’s super-famous and super-money-making series
about an orphaned boy wizard with a distinctive lightning scar.
In the fifth movie, the principle characters have aged and the
focus is less on the wonders of magic and more on the surprising
onset of adulthood. This creates even greater pressure on their
acting abilities and here they succeed. Harry (Radcliffe)
is angrier and ever more distant from his closest friends, for reasons
he is unable to articulate or correct, often leaving Ron (Grint)
and Hermione (Watson) to make do without him as
the two of them become strangely awkward around each other as well.
With more time spent on the younger generation, including the delightful
Luna Lovegood (Lynch), who conveys an off-key personality
with a few quiet words and sidelong glances, some of the finest
British actors of this generation are pushed even further from the
spotlight. Never fear though. All of them, especially Severus Snape
(Rickman), are thoroughly entertaining in every
opportunity they are given.
The film’s principle antagonist is not the sinister Lord
Voldemort (Fiennes), but the odious Miss Umbridge
(Staunton), a sadistic bureaucrat from the ministry
of magic whose sole purpose in life is to remove any and all fun
from attending Hogwarts. This is kind of a shame because at this
age we were hoping Harry Potter and the gang had outgrown the mean
teacher villain and moved on to bigger, more grown-up things.
The film suffers from many of the same problems as its predecessors
and other films about magic, namely that showdowns between wizards
and witches are much more interesting to read about than to actually
watch, especially without quiditch. Besides having the actors make
funny faces into the camera to demonstrate their intense concentration,
Yates gives us nothing compelling to watch during
what should be an intense spell-flinging showdown. Of course the
movie has the same old light show of dueling laser beams emanating
from opposing wands, but this trick has already been done in Goblet
Of Fire and countless other movies, and guess what? It’s
boring. One of the series’ more heart-wrenching moments is
stripped of all dramatic weight by an extremely clichéd delivery.
In fact a lot of the effects look like hand-me-downs from Lord
Of The Rings.
Kudos to screenwriter Michael Goldenberg for
condensing J.K. Rowling’s longest book into a mere two and
a half hour running time. This year at Hogwarts seems to be just
going through the motions. Director Yates has so much to pack in
that he has to race through the movie to cover all the narrative
points. In doing so, something is lost. Perhaps he is a little too
faithful to the source material in which Umbridge removes all the
fun and delight from Hogwarts. Order Of The Phoenix is
itself devoid of amusement and entirely too much like the dark reality
so ardently avoided by going to the movies or reading children’s