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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)

David Yates steps in to direct, and he brings back the energy and joy of Prisoner of Azkaban. The fifth book was the longest, but the fifth movie was one of the shortest. Yates keeps the movie flowing and it is more energetic and fun than Goblet of Fire. Lots of things are left out of the movie, but they are alluded to. It captures the feel and tone of the fifth book, even though so much is left out. Even if you haven’t seen the other movies or read the books, this film is solid enough to stand alone.

This movie came out in July of 2007, the same month as the final book. It was a very good month for Potter fans. Not only did it also come out in IMAX, but the final twenty minutes were converted into 3D. Keep in mind that this was way before Avatar, and the whole movie was in 2D, but then when Harry and his friends jump on the Thestrals to save Sirius it becomes 3D. There were some great 3D moments as they explore the Department of Mysteries and get attacked by the Death Eaters, but nothing compares to Voldemort and Dumbledore’s fierce dual. Seriously some of the best use of 3D in film. It really added to the film, and because it was only 3D at the end, the 3D seemed more impressive. The dual is an amazing spectacle. Computer graphics can still make jaws drop if done correctly.

As per the trend, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson continue to grow up and improve as actors. Gary Oldman has only a few scenes as Sirius, but establishes a real connection between Harry and Sirius. Keep in mind that Sirius only had one scene in Goblet of Fire, so it was vital for the audience to relate to Sirius so that when he dies you feel sorry for Harry. There is a great moment in the midst of the Ministry battle where Sirius calls Harry “James” by accident. It is a really brief but subtle allusion to Harry seeing Sirius as a father, but Sirius sees Harry as his friend. It sums up their relationship perfectly.

Two great female villains are introduced in this movie. Helena Bonham Carter portrays Bellatrix Lestrange, and makes her very deranged and psychotic. You can tell she went to the Alan Rickman School of Hamming It Up and graduated at the top of her class. Imelda Staunton steals the show with her portrayal of the loathsome and evil Dolores Umbridge. If you didn’t like Umbridge in the book, you will hate her in the movie. When she gets dragged off by the centaurs at the end, I still get giddy. It takes a lot of talent to not only have everyone hate your character, but to enjoy hating your character.

There was a lot of stuff left out of the movie. But it flows better and feels more like its paperback companion than Goblet of Fire. Yates did a great job and got the franchise back on track. A lot of people are critical of this movie, but in time I think it will be remembered as one of the best movies in the series.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book)

This is the longest book in the Harry Potter series, and my personal favorite. There is way too much to review, so I’ll just be like the movie and leave out a bunch of stuff. J.K. Rowling takes Potter to a whole new level in this novel. Voldemort is back, but Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry of Magic refuse to believe it, and instead launch a campaign questioning Harry’s integrity and Dumbledore’s mental state.

The Ministry of Magic starts taking over Hogwarts slowly. First they make Fudge’s loyal employee, Dolores Umbridge, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. They gradually start imposing more and more decrees, and get rid of Hogwarts staff that threatens them politically. Fudge is extremely paranoid of Dumbledore, thinking he’s starting an army to seize control of the Ministry. Umbridge wont let the students perform defensive spells.

Hermione is weary of not learning, and she convinces Harry to teach her and a few other willing students defensive spells. He is reluctant at first, but eventually chooses to lead the fight against Umbridge. Harry, Ron, and Hermione recruit a few other students and form Dumbledore’s Army.

Life at Hogwarts gets more and more miserable as the Ministry takes over. Umbridge gradually becomes Headmaster, and Dumbledore is forced out. The earlier books were full of hope; this book is full of despair. Harry spends a lot of time being angry. He is still haunted by Cedric’s death, he is angry that he is out of the loop, he is hurt that people don’t believe him. But he chooses to fight, he wants to fight. He becomes a leader by choice.

Voldemort tricks Harry into thinking Sirius is in danger. Harry leads a small band of Dumbledore’s Army on a rescue mission, and realizes it’s a trap. They become overwhelmed by the Death Eaters. Harry finds out Voldemort is interested in a mysterious prophecy that holds answers to Harry’s past. Harry and his friends put up a fight, and suddenly Dumbledore and members of the Order of the Phoenix show up to help. In the midst of the battle, Bellatrix Lestrange kills Sirius. Dumbledore and Voldemort have a fierce duel, and you see why Dumbledore is the only one Voldy ever feared.

Neville also becomes more important. You learn about his past and how his parents were tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange. He is an orphan of sorts, just like Harry. He learns a lot with Dumbledore’s Army and joins Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Luna at Department of Mysteries and fights bravely. The prophecy also reveals that Neville could have been the Chosen one. “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …” Neville and Harry were born just one day apart, both their parents defied Voldy, but (SPOILER ALERT!) Voldemort marked Harry as his equal. That’s privileged information if you never finished the series. Sorry if I ruined your life, but it’s been out for a while.

The Order of the Phoenix is where bits and pieces from the earlier installments start to fall in place. You can start deducing where Harry and the story are going. You start to think that maybe Harry really is the Chosen One. There are many subplots and foreshadowing and Easter eggs. This book is where the series really takes off. There might be a lot of superfluous material, but when it comes to Potter, there’s no such thing as too much.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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