Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Natalia Tena as Nymphadora Tonks
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor ‘Mad-¬≠Eye’ Moody
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Mark Williams as Arthur Weasley
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Julie Walters as Mrs. Weasley
James Phelps as Fred Weasley
Oliver Phelps as George Weasley
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Robert Hardy as Cornelius Fudge
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Katie Leung as Cho Chang
Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom
Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Emma Thompson as Sybil Trelawney
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” features great acting, cool special effects, and a solid (though significantly trimmed down) adaptation of the novel, but overall the slow pace and the lack of new magic makes it the least strong of the “Potter” films. Despite this, it’s still very much worth checking out.

This is the fifth film in the “Harry Potter” series.

Shortly before starting his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter is attacked by two rogue Dementors. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of his problems. He also learns that the Ministry of Magic and the wizard press have been waging a smear campaign against him and Professor Dumbledore. They have been trying to reassure the public that Lord Voldemort has not returned by convincing them that Potter is crazy. Feeling isolated and alone, even Ron, Hermione, and the wizard freedom fighters called “The Order of the Phoenix” are little comfort to Harry.

Things get worse when the Ministry of Magic sends Dolores Umbridge to teach at Hogwarts. Not only does she continue to defame Harry, she slowly starts taking over the school and ruling with an iron fist. With a war coming and signs that Lord Voldemort is ready to attack, Potter and a small band of his fellow students take it upon themselves to learn how to fight back against evil. But will it be enough to foil Voldemort’s plans?

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.

What Worked:
The creators had a big challenge in adapting the nearly 900-page book into a two hour movie, but I think they did a good job. I’ll have to admit that it has been 4 years since I read the book, but they managed to capture the important elements of the story. Potter fans may be disappointed that some parts are missing (like the sub-plot involving the Weasley’s oldest son, a side trip to meet Longbottom’s parents, etc.), but that’s the price you pay when putting it in movie form.

Most of your favorite elements are still here. Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint all still play their roles perfectly. It’s amazing to see them growing up on the screen (as emphasized by some flashbacks). The adults also remain strong supporting cast members. Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, and Ralph Fiennes all have brief moments to shine. A couple of the new cast members also stand out. Evanna Lynch is appropriately ditzy and odd as Luna Lovegood. Natalia Tena is also probably the coolest wizard as Nymphadora Tonks. She’s tough and funny and a great contrast to the rest of the Order of the Phoenix. But the real standout addition is Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge. I don’t think there’s been a more evil villain on the big screen since The Emperor. Her disgustingly pink and proper exterior hides a raging tyrant. She makes your worst teacher seem like a saint in comparison.

Out of the special effects, there are a couple of standouts. We get to meet a giant for the first time – Hagrid’s half brother. His screentime is short, but he certainly leaves an impression. The new Thestrals, scary looking horse skeletons with wings, are also quite cool. The sight of them flying over London is certainly one of the more memorable scenes from this film.

As for the story, the darker tone is certainly interesting. The theme of the story is about teenagers standing up and taking responsibility, but an equally important theme is that everyone has a dark side. Harry learns this is the case not only about himself, but about everyone else as well. This is especially apparent in a scene where Harry sees a younger version of his father bullying a younger version of Professor Snape. It was a poignant moment in the film.

What Didn’t Work:
As already mentioned, parts of the book are omitted from the film for running time. This is sure to displease some fans. Another unfortunate side effect is that some characters end up having dramatically reduced screentime. Hagrid, McGonagall, Trelawney, and a few other favorites from past films are barely in the movie.

But as well executed as this film is, I have to admit that it was a bit dull at times. With a 2 hour 20 minute running time, there’s actually very little action in the movie. There’s a little at the beginning and the end, but you have to wait a long time for the payoff. This is a very character and dialogue driven film. It also lacks a lot of the magical elements of the previous movies. As cool as the Giant and the Thestrals are, they aren’t as cool as some of the creatures revealed in the previous movies.

The Bottom Line:
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is the weakest of the five Potter films, but even the weakest one makes a pretty solid movie. I think Potter fans old and young will feel like they got their money’s worth out of this film.