The Rebellion Begins
Running Time: 138 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13
Country: United Kingdom, United States
The Order of the Phoenix is the weakest of the Potter novels, it is over long, has too many things going on that ultimately do little to forward the characters development and Harry spends the entire book as an angry, annoying teenager. Its not really surprising then that the film is also flawed. Having said that a bad Harry Potter film is still a treat and this one has some great characters, exciting battles and some interesting sub-text on the concept of power.
Its Harrys fifth term at Hogwarts, Dementors have attacked, hes almost expelled from Hogwarts for underage magic and finds out the Ministry for Magic have been calling him a liar all summer for saying Voldermort is back and this is all before term starts. Of course Voldermort is back, and killing Cedric Diggory was just the beginning. A battle is coming and the Order of the Phoenix, which was created by Dumbledor to defeat Voldermort last time, reform to face him again. Harry wants to fight but is left frustrated at school, the pain in his lightning scar getting more and more unbearable. In an attempt to prepare for the coming fight, some of Harrys fellow students ask him to teach them magical self defence, a task to which he rises admirably. Yet all is not well at Hogwarts. The Ministry is interfering and have installed the delightfully psychotic Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) to act on their behalf. Hogwarts suddenly has a dark shadow upon it, as Umbridge imposes her draconian decrees and nasty tortures on Harry and his friends. Matters are made worse by Harrys confrontational (and frankly bratty) behaviour, his crush on Diggorys grieving girlfriend and his own raging hormones, but could there be more to his out of character behaviour?
While the Goblet of Fire had a strong, solid plot to drive the characters forward in the form of the Triwizarding cup, Phoenix lacks focus. Many of the nicer touches from the book have been left out (the Black house for instance is not nearly as scary as the book makes it out to be.), but I couldnt really complain, as the book was too long anyway. Staunton is awesome in all her giggling insanity, the Phelps twins are also quite wonderful, their dramatic departure from Hogwarts is one of the best action sequences in the film. The build up and final battle scene with Voldermort is also well done, we get to see Wizards at the height of their magical power and knowledge, battle for real, this is not childs play this is lethal. Radcliffe seems a little out of his depth with all the moody, aggressive attitude he is meant to be portraying, but Grint and Watson support him well so it doesnt detract from the enjoyment of the film too much. This will never be considered the best of the Potter films, but considering the text it came from it was a good attempt and if youre a Potter fan it doesnt matter, its entertaining, big budget and worth a look.
It's Got: Psychotic teachers, moody teenagers, fumbling first love, impressive magic and a great firework display.
It Needs: A more focused plot and less reliance on supporting characters to carry the lead.
Alternatives:Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban
Not the best Potter movie, but entertaining enough to keep us going until the next one.