Anthony's Film Review
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
The fifth Harry Potter is not the best but not entirely bad either...
I have read the Harry Potter novels and seen their film adaptations. In both cases, I consider Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth entry in the series, to be one of my least favorite parts of the series. It's not a bad story just because it still continues the adventures of the titular boy wizard. It just doesn't top some of the earlier stories, particular Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Therefore, my observations of Order of the Phoenix are a mix of the positive and the negative.
In the beginning of the story, there's a nice setup. The evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned to power and extends his dark influence beyond the magical world separate from our reality. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his cousin Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling) find themselves in danger when the dark spirits called Dementors attack them on the way home. Harry has no choice but to use magic against these fiends. Unfortunately, he has to attend a hearing at the Ministry of Magic because wizards are not supposed to use magic in the presence of non-magic folk (whom the wizarding world refers to as Muggles).
Once again, author J.K. Rowling maintains audience interest by not repeating herself. This story has a unique beginning by exploring additional magically hidden places in London. Besides the gigantic underground Ministry of Magic, there is also a hidden apartment that acts as the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society of wizards. It gathers many familiar faces, including Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), and Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson). They are discussing plans to handle the matter of Lord Voldemort's return. The challenge is that the Minister of Magic does not believe Voldemort is really back.
At this point, the main problem of the film becomes clear: dullness. I wanted more drama and emotion from the actors, who almost look as if they're just going through the motions, not putting full effort into their roles. This continues all the way to the end of the movie, even through the climax that is more action-packed than that of the previous Potter movies. It's not that the movie boring and unpleasant. It's just exciting to a very mild degree.
Once Harry starts another year at Hogwarts with his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), the school-related plot begins. Once again, the Defense Against the Dark Arts class needs a new professor. This time, it's a strict, no-nonsense woman named Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). She is so by-the-book that she lectures entirely from the textbook without any practical demonstration. It drives the students crazy, but it doesn't end there. Because Umbridge is also a member of the Ministry of Magic, she evaluates the performance of other Hogwarts professors, driving them crazy as well.
Soon, Umbridge takes educational matters into her own hands. She posts numerous educational decrees that restrict the activities of Hogwarts students, eventually taking over the school itself. All of this does serve as a source of conflict for Harry and his friends, who need to defend themselves against the forces of Lord Voldemort. There's only one solution. Based on his experiences thus far, Harry teaches defense against the dark arts to the other students in a secret location called the Room of Requirement.
Notice how I talked about a lot about the school-related plot. That should give you an idea how much time in the movie the Umbridge plot line spans. As for the central magical mystery, the other essential ingredient in the Harry Potter formula, it's still there. Basically, it involves Harry being able to see into Lord Voldemort's mind and learning what the villain's scheme is. The problem is that the movie significantly delays this part of the story. When it does explore this premise, it spends a lot less time than the drama with Umbridge.
The last thing I'll mention is the inclusion of too many minor characters. There are plenty of characters who contribute little to any plot, including an elf named Kreacher, a student named Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), a giant named Grawp, a witch named Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena), and an evil witch named Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). Of course, they may have more important roles in later Harry Potter installments, but I nevertheless could not help noticing that they distracted from the main story.
Overall, the movie is clearly the dullest entry in the series thus far. So is my rating for this movie positive or negative? Well, it does have its moments, enough to not dislike it all the way through. Basically, it has just enough excitement to avoid a negative rating. That is why I'm giving Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix my marginally positive rating of 6/10. I still look forward to the remaining two parts of the story to come to life on film (the Half-Blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows). Because I've read the books and know the last two are good stories, there's still a chance for the film series to make a comeback.
For more information about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
The Harry Potter Films