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Overall Rating
3.88

Awesome38.3%
Worth A Look: 37.23%
Average: 7.45%
Pretty Bad: 8.51%
Total Crap: 8.51%

7 reviews, 52 user ratings


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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
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by Erik Childress

"Not-So-Dead Magician’s Society"
4 stars

If the appreciation already isn’t felt in the literary offerings of J.K. Rowling, in decades to come parents old and new will feel a debt of gratitude to what the Harry Potter series has meant as a cultural staple. Past the distraction of simple entertainment, she has created something far more lasting; a magnifying glass of the troubles of adolescence and a society that does them no favors on a road they don’t understand. The first three books and their adaptations worked as individual adventures for our heroes, solving new mysteries with new adversaries. Goblet of Fire then turned the proverbial corner, a literal bridge in the seven books. The hormones started to kick in, shirking of authority was accused and Harry’s chief villain made his first appearance in the flesh. The Order of the Phoenix takes things further into teenage rebellion and weaves the beginning of the series’ backend into maybe the best of the series to date leaving us in a state of anticipatory bliss of how it will all end.

Having just faced his immortal enemy, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in the last chapter, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has found himself alienated from the very shaken Hogwarts community. After an unprovoked attack, Harry is even facing expulsion charges for having defended himself. (Using magic under the age of 17 in front of “muggles” is a no-no.) The Ministry of Magic refuses to acknowledge the Dark Lord’s return. Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) appears to be doing the same with Harry. His only comfort comes from his surrogate family, the Weasleys and godfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), both members of the Order of the Phoenix, an organization founded to fight against Voldemort’s initial rise to power which they sense is beginning its rebirth.

The paranoid Ministry, in its attempt to quelch these nasty rumors, places Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) into Hogwart’s revolving Defence of the Dark Arts position. Her pull with the rank-and-file soon finds her duties escalated into High Inquisitor, creating new rules by the hour for students, limiting their rights as well as their studies. Umbridge is more textbook than example teacher and with the Voldemort threat ever on the student’s minds, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) convince Harry to form their own underground sessions (a Dead Magician’s Society, if you will) to prepare for the worst.

Order of the Phoenix will play differently for many casual viewers and that’s intentional. There are many questions to be answered, but the adventure aspect of solving the mystery is no longer a game to be played. The Goblet of Fire competition was the final shift into this darker territory; interrupted before a winner declared and our heroes coming face-to-face with death for the very first time. Hiding children from the end of life may seem like advisable parenting, but it’s now become a key element in the Potter series. Another instantly likable new character, Luna Lovegood (newcomer Evanna Lynch), nicknamed “Looney” for her catatonic-like tranquility, has also seen a loved one die. This experience allows her to see the spirits of the Thestrals, who look liked rotted horses but are loyal and friendly transports whom the students need to get from one place to the next.

Parents may feel a little uneasy exposing their young ones to such harsh truths. (After all, three times as many people went to see Night at the Museum over Charlotte’s Web.) But if your children have been growing up on the Potter series, then Rowling’s progression continues to be a blessing rather than a curse. The fifth chapter even comforts mom and dad that their little boy or girl’s rebellious streak may actually be a positive momentum to their growth as an adult. Forced to sidestep the teachings of adults that may seem archaic in an ever-changing universe, they seek out knowledge for the betterment instead of being shoehorned into precisely what the status quo tells you is essential learning. What a revolutionary concept for children to be learning. And you thought this was all about magic spells and witchcraft.

Of course, there’s always room for child development in the form of night sweats and the nice aside for Harry’s first kiss and a post-liplock discussion with his closest friends. But Phoenix’s excitement comes not in the form of spectacular set pieces or big special effects moments. It’s in the added and premature pressure for Harry and his classmates to grow up through lessons the adults don’t want to teach and would rather keep them hidden from forever. As physically villainous as Voldemort is trying to enter Harry’s mind, it’s Staunton’s Umbridge that represents a greater and more sinister evil. Decked out in her bright colors and plastered smile, Umbridge is a teacher we have probably all had; set in her tunnel vision beliefs that her way is the right way. No debate. Punishment for the most base of dissenters. Umbridge is the quintessential harbinger of the worst of religion, politics and leadership and Staunton’s performance is frighteningly dead-on for a character who could have been a cartoonish roadblock instead of a disturbing threat.

Order of the Phoenix does end with a colors-blazing battle of wills that delivers as a combination of forces and an unleashing of the struggles Harry & Co. have faced for close to two hours already. As the shortest film in the series at 139 minutes (for the longest book to date at 870 pages) it occasionally struggles to implement one too many subplots, such as Hagrid’s giant brother or Sirius’ ill-tempered house troll. An extra 20-30 minutes could have given a few of them to breathe while continuing to expand the more central drives of Umbridge’s fascist control and the divide of Hogwart’s students into even further specialized cliques. After a pair of viewings, I’m still most impressed with this effort in a way that I didn’t feel after leaving the last couple. Chamber of Secrets remains my favorite simply for the way it perfectly recalled the fanciful adventures of the early ‘80s and Goblet of Fire nicely blended the excitement and forboding darkness to come. Phoenix succeeds where Alfonso Cuaron’s highly overrated Prisoner of Azkaban stumbled as its more focused on the development of the kids than the mythos of the world around them. For that, I see it standing the test of time and something kids (and adults) of all ages can look back upon and say “I remember those times…” even if they didn’t have a magic wand to play with.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16219&reviewer=198
originally posted: 07/11/07 04:27:34
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User Comments

7/26/09 David Worst of the series 3 stars
7/14/09 cody this movie is another good fllim in the harry potter series, that teacher is a butt!!! 4 stars
10/27/08 Michael M Yates creates an emotional connection with the audience when none of the previos flims did. 4 stars
10/26/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
9/01/08 Samantha Pruitt could have been longer, but still great, helens bonham carter was awesome! 5 stars
5/14/08 PAUL SHORTT AN EXERCISE IN PATIENCE AND LOYALTY, AT LEAST FOR FANS OF THE PAST TWO FILMS 2 stars
5/05/08 Franklin D Roosevelt Great movie 5 stars
4/26/08 Tyler Sciortino Some dodgy effects and a half-hour too short, but a great thrill with pitch-black darkness. 4 stars
3/21/08 Soph Very rushed; I almost expected Harry and co to start talking in squirrel voices. 2 stars
1/18/08 X Wang Yes, there are differences from the book - but still a very entertaining movie 4 stars
12/13/07 ES Enjoyable for a kid's movie 4 stars
11/15/07 Awesome People who only watch the movies will never get the whole story of the movie. 5 stars
11/15/07 PIMP It's the best one of all times 5 stars
11/07/07 Mohammad nawaz harry potter is great novel 4 stars
9/30/07 pamela ruvalcaba the movie is very good, i like daniel radcliffe 5 stars
9/08/07 pete total crap nothing like the book,totaly lost until I read the book great acting and effects 2 stars
8/27/07 Dan Leaves out key points from the book, and i have a fealing this movie ment to be longer. 2 stars
8/22/07 dude!!! this was a awsome movie but you need to read the book to get it 5 stars
8/21/07 SGlassman Worst movie. No character development which is important later on. 1 stars
8/17/07 Lilly potter Please get another director. Someone with imagination. 2 stars
8/13/07 U Don't Wanna Know This movie a few great effects, but thats all, if you havent read the book u're lost. 1 stars
8/12/07 Gurdeep People have to realize that books are one thing and movies another, I think it was great!! 5 stars
8/11/07 Kaitlin extremely disappointing! the acting was good but the film was nothing like the book. 1 stars
8/10/07 David's Sister It's totally gutted the masterful plot and character development. 1 stars
8/09/07 Neila Very disappointed ,worst hp ever 1 stars
7/31/07 Riktor Worst Film so far, Completly not like the book at all, Remove David yates Plz. 3 stars
7/29/07 sue the best one i have seen - dark and dangerous just like all good thrillers 5 stars
7/28/07 Navin R Whoo ,big letdown .This film stank 1 stars
7/27/07 Bitchflaps The worst Harry Potter film yet. I pray David Yates doesn't screw the next one up. 2 stars
7/26/07 sunny the best movie ever 5 stars
7/23/07 C Note Easily best of the series; Harry finally takes charge instead of being led around 5 stars
7/21/07 Randy This was nothing like the book! So many plot changes, it's unbelievable! 2 stars
7/20/07 Janet If you read the book, you hated the movie! They should have made it longer !!! 1 stars
7/19/07 miss elliott bloody brilliant 5 stars
7/19/07 Jake B Not a fan of the books, but this is a great instalment of a great FILM series 5 stars
7/18/07 melissa great movie..the battle and rebellion : really interesting..acting n effects : great 4 stars
7/18/07 Austin Wertman terrible 1 stars
7/18/07 orpy ho hum 3 stars
7/17/07 pin Entertaining yet, flat. Adaptation a bit superficial. They lost the story for the details. 3 stars
7/17/07 NeoMalfoy After the letdown of Goblet this was a releif best Potter adaption yet! 5 stars
7/17/07 SteveM A lot lot better than I thought it was going to be 5 stars
7/15/07 R K Felt let down. Effects / characters /acting great. Story line sucks and predictable. 3 stars
7/15/07 Jed Not flawless but it was entertaining 4 stars
7/15/07 Dark Enchantress it was good, im not a big harry potter fan, bit i enjoyed the movie 4 stars
7/15/07 KingNeutron Highly recommended - I see parallels of this film in my own life. 5 stars
7/14/07 Sourav Good one to watch...better than most of the other Harry Potter films expect maybe the 1st 1 5 stars
7/14/07 sarah not so good 2 stars
7/14/07 Matthew Extremely well done, the best of the Harry Potter movies 5 stars
7/14/07 Ole Man Bourbon Much better than the others I've seen--Order was suspenseful and even interesting at times. 4 stars
7/13/07 Adrian A perfect adaptiation of the most expository book in the series. 5 stars
7/12/07 Hello Stranger harry is completely tortured by the end of the film. no smiles. no action for 3/4 of film. 3 stars
7/12/07 Stacy Acting, casting, mood -- great as always. The adaptation this time seemed messy, though. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Jul-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 11-Dec-2007

UK
  12-Jul-2007 (12A)

Australia
  11-Jul-2007 (M)




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