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Warner Brothers

Official Site

Director: David Yates

Producers: David Barron, David Heyman

Written by: Michael Goldenberg

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Imelda Staunton, Evanna Lynch, Ralph Fiennes


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 books.

—Woodrow Bogucki

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