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harry potter and the order of the phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Directed by:
David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Melling, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint

Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

July 18, 2007

Gone are the days of innocence!  We remember when the first Harry Potter movie came out.  How young Harry went to Hogwarth and met new friends.   They were all so naïve.  Now, it is different.   Harry and his friends are teenagers. They look different and act different too.  Harry is even interested in girls and actually has his first kiss of the series. 


One wonders why Harry had to go far and choose a stranger.  For our money Hermione is the most loyal and most attractive.   If you are not a Harry Potter reader you may find the movie confusing.  We have tried to explain the gist of the story and its many participants below.  You may want to print the review and read it before seeing the movie. So read on!

As usual, this episode starts with a tiff between Harry, his uncle and his cousin Dudley.  Harry and his cousin are attacked by the Dementors.  Harry saves his cousin from certain death by using the Patronus Charm.  The Dementors suck the soul out of a person and are supposed to be the prison guards of Azkaban under the control of the Ministry of Magic.  Something has gone wrong.    Harry gets blamed by his witless obese uncle and to add insult to injury he is expelled from Hogwarts by order of the Ministry of Magic because he used magic outside the school.  Never mind that he saved a life.  Apparently, the minister, one Cornelius Fudge, played by Robert Hardy does not believe that Valdermort has returned and is afraid that Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore is plotting to replace him.  So, he does all he can to discredit Dumbledore and his students.

An ultra secret organization, The Order of Phoenix, created years ago by Dumbledore comes to Harry’s rescue.  They take him to their secret hideout and arrange a stay of the expulsion order.  There he meets his godfather Sirius Black who is still considered a fugitive from justice.  A trial is soon arranged by the Ministry of Magic to formally kick Harry out of school.  However, with the testimony of Dumbledore and the statement of an eyewitness: Harry’s neighbor Mrs. Figg who had seen the Dementors attack, Harry is declared innocent and is allowed to return to school.

Things at school have changed as well.  Dumbledore repeatedly ignores and avoids Harry and to make matters worse a new teacher, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) from the Ministry is assigned to school and she makes life hell for Harry and his friends.

Meanwhile Harry is tormented by dreams that make him feel he is being possessed by Voldemort.  He even dreams that he has been turned into a snake and bitten Ron’s father Mr. Weasley.   Dumbledore arranges for Snape (Alan Rickman) the weird teacher who always wears black to teach Harry the magic of blocking his mind against intrusion by Voldemort.

Dolores refuses to teach Harry and other students how to practically defend themselves from magical forces of Dark Arts and just teaches theory that the Ministry had approved earlier.  In desperation, Harry and his friends decide to secretly practice the magic of self defense against Dark Arts.  They name their group “Dumbledore’s Army” without Dumbledore’s permission.  They are eventually discovered by Dolores and Argus Filch the caretaker and along with Dumbledore are accused of plotting to overthrow Cornelius Fudge the Minister of Magic.  Dumbledore uses magic and disappears before they can arrest him. He is replaced by Dolores as the new headmistress of Hogwarth.   

The reign of Dolores Umbridge is marked by imposition of many new rules and restrictions on students’ activities. 

Harry has a vision that his godfather Sirius Black is being tortured at the Ministry of Magic.  He tries to contact Sirius, but is caught by the nasty Dolores Umbridge who tries to put the Cruciatus Curse on him which will inflict unbearable pain on Harry forever.  We also learn that it was she who sent the Dementors to kill Harry and his cousin Dudley. The ever faithful Hermione arrives in time and convinces Dolores that Dumbledore has hidden a secret weapon in the forest next to Hogwarts.  Dolores insults the Centaurs when they arrive at the forest and is carried away screaming by the Centaurs. 

Even though Dolores is gone, all is not well.  Harry is afraid that his godfather Sirius is in mortal danger and decides to go to the Ministry of Magic with the Dumbledore’s Army. They arrive there riding on the back of Luna’s friendly Thestrals (winged horses.)    They arrive there and proceed to the Department of Mysteries which all the secret archives are stored and Sirius was supposed to be in Harry’s vision.   They then realize that they have been duped by Voldemort.  Voldemort wants the sphere that contains the future prophecies that only Harry Potter can retrieve from the archives. 

The final scene is a battle royale between the good guys (the students and the members of The Order of Phoenix) and the Voldemort, his cohorts and the Death Eaters.   Soon Dumbledore arrives and the tide of battle is turned in favor of Harry and his friends.   Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his assistant Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) disappear, but the rest of Death Eaters are destroyed.

In the final shot, Dumbledore explains to Harry that he purposely stayed away from Harry because he did not want to read his mind through Harry’s.   We are left we one piece of puzzle still pending.  According to the prophecy, either Harry or Voldemort must die at the hand of the other.  The two of them cannot exist in this world.

This movie is probably the most complex of the series so far.  You can still enjoy the wonderful special effects and the interesting plot line even if you are not a regular fan. 

As we said earlier, the younger actors look and act so differently even from the Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire which was only made two years ago.

We would rate the direction of this movie by David Yates as rather mundane.  Almost any one could direct a movie the way Yates did given the tremendous financial resources and seasoned actors at his disposal.  But, we were hoping for something extra. 

We do not think the acting by the main characters Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger has improved any since the last Harry Potter movie.  If anything, Daniel Radcliffe had a much fresher gullible, yet likeable, appearance in the previous movies and his naïveté gave the previous movies that wholesome air. 

In the Order of Phoenix, most of the younger characters such as Harry, Weasley and the twins are mischievous teenagers with overflowing hormones.  Emma Watson has somehow maintained that childish infallibility that made her so perfectly right for the part of a Muggle born child.  A Muggle is a child whose parents do not have magical powers, so she has the added burden of trying to prove that she is better than her classmates.  Luna Lovegood is a blonde dotty newcomer played by Evanna Lynch.  Maybe she will turn out to be Harry’s love interest.  She is quite attractive in an offbeat sort of way.   Even though she was a newcomer to the series, she picked up and performed along with the rest of the cast admirably.   Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge is also a new addition to the cast.  She carried her smarmy smile throughout the movie until almost the end when she was captured and carried away by the Centaurs. In real life Imelda Staunton is a nice looking woman with a pleasant smile. 

Michael Gambon as Dumbledore and Robert Hardy as Cornelius Fudge perform quite well.  They really do not have much screen time.  Neither have Alan Rickman as Snape nor Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall.  One wonders how much they were paid for being almost non-participants in this movie.  Gary Oldman as Sirius Black was so so.

We will give this movie starstarstar.  It is not a masterpiece but it is definitely worth seeing and suitable for the entire family.  Despite its weak direction, we would recommend seeing this movie.

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