Directed By: David Yates
Written By: Michael Goldenberg
Based On The Novel By: J.K. Rowling
Staring: Daniel Radcliffe, Imelda Stautan, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Harry Melling, Fionna Shaw, Richard Griffiths, Peter Cartwright, Gary Oldman, Mark Williams, David Thewlis, Maggie Smith, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, George Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Jason Isaacs, Chris Rankin, Michael Hardy, Michael Gambon, Tom Felton, Katie Leung, Evanna Lynch, Matthew Lewis, Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman
I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.-Sirius Black
At this point it’s safe to say that the dark note Goblet of Fire ended on has carried it’s intensity to this film. The beginning scenes show that there will be no messing around. Voldemort has returned and so has his evil followers along with.
This installation into the Potter series takes place directly before his fifth year at Hogwarts begins. Harry has spent the summer in solitude, hearing nothing from his friends or anyone from Hogwarts, without knowing why. To escape the prison that is the house on Privot drive, Harry wastes an afternoon away at a nearby park when he is confronted by his overweight, bully of a cousin, Dudley. Dudley taunts him, and then suddenly something in the air has changed. Dudley’s friends run home, and Harry and Dudley are confronted by two Dementor’s in an underpass. Saved, at the last moment by Harry, he takes Dudley home, and then a group of events follow that change everything.
After Dudley is taken off to the hospital a slew of witches and wizards arrive at Privot Drive to steal Harry away to “headquarters”. Harry grabs his broom to the mysterious “headquarters”, which turns out to be Sirius Blacks home and where the Order Of The Phoenix is busy waging it’s war against the Dark Lord. After this, all sorts of unsavory events begin to follow. Harry is threatened to be expelled from Hogwarts. The ministry of magic is obviously compromised, as Cornelius Fudge is showing signs of insanity. There is a prison break from Azkhaban, and the escapee’s Voldemort’s most loyal followers. Most frightening of all, the arrival of Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Stauntan), the new Dark Arts teacher. Umbridge, sent from the Ministry of Magic is obviously not there to teach, she is there to reform Hogwarts in a way that she sees fit. Her forms of punishment border on torturous, and she makes no apologies for the fact that she is obviously out to get Harry. What is most interesting about Umbridge is her appearance and demeanor. She is a plain, blank faced woman who wears pink exclusively. Her voice is tiny, like you’d expect a mouse to speak, and when she is most frustrated, she releases a slight squeal at the end of what she says. She would seem to be one you’d fear the least, when in fact she is the one in this novel you’d fear the most. That is, until the final scene.
Through this movie the trio, Harry, Hermione, and Ron have no quarrels. They have matured and have been through enough to realize what’s at stake. Unfortunately, the solitude of Harry’s summer has made it difficult for him to accept his friends unconditional support. But eventually he comes around when Dumbledore’s Army is created. The DA is a group that practices defense against the dark arts since they obviously won’t be learning it in school under the tutelage of Umbridge. It creates a bond between the characters that will carry on through the next two films.
The imagery and feel of this movie was different than prior Potter flicks. It was darker, more mature, and certainly more foreboding. The feel of the shots were more grisly and left for a feeling of unending hopelessness, which was probably to mirror the feeling Harry had the entire year at Hogwarts. There is no worse feeling than to feel alone when you are surrounded by tons of people, and that feeling Harry executed that feeling perfectly throughout the entire movie.
The Dark Lord makes a cameo in this uber climatic ending, when all of the pain and suffering of that year at Hogwarts comes crashing down into one final scene. Many questions are answered, and yet there are a few more questions. The final battle is emotional and painful to watch, not to mention cool, but the viewer is right there with Harry. By the end of this movie, you’ve been on an emotional roller coaster that never slowed down once.
The maturity, the darkness, the close adaptation to the novel, and the brilliant pacing of this Potter movie made it my favorite out of the series of five, with Azkahban a close second. If they can keep this up for the Half Blood Prince and opt for the same writers and director, we’re in for a wild ride. Order Of The Phoenix gets four out of four stars.