POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Community Relations Manager
KUNV 91.5 FM
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Harry Potter has had a face lift. With new direction and better special
effects, the latest installment of the beloved series has a much more adult
and artistic feel. The acting and writing remains pretty similar to the
previous films, so many of the same problems remain too. This series is
going to be popular no matter what because fans of the books turn out in
droves, but for those unfamiliar with the boy wizard, this film can be
confusing at times.
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is entering
his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and this year
he is facing some intense problems with staff and other students. After the
death of a beloved student in the previous year, Harry has had to deal with
bad press and flurries of rumors surrounding the circumstances of that boy’s
death. It doesn’t help that only a handful of people actually believe that
Lord Voldemort (excuse me… “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”) is back and gaining
strength. Only Headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and The Order of the
Phoenix understand the brevity of the situation and are fighting to make the
rest of the wizard world and the Ministry of Magic believe.
When Harry is forced to use magic illegally to save his life, he has to go
to trial in front of the ministry to contest his expulsion from Hogwarts.
After this encounter, it is clear that the ministry wants to take the
“ignore the problem until it goes away” approach with the issue of Lord
Voldemort. So they send Delores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) to fill in as
defense against the dark arts professor, in order to keep an eye on the
school, and especially Harry. Umbridge sets forth hundreds of proclamations
to prevent Harry from teaching his friends about the spells that she refuses
to teach in her classroom, but he feels are necessary for everyone to
protect themselves. She punishes him and others every chance she gets, but
they persist and create “Dumbledore’s Army.”
In the tradition of the previous films,
this installment takes quite a while to get really interesting. There were a
few scary moments in the beginning, but then the next hour is extremely slow
and a little confusing. I’ve read all of the books and love them of course,
but I have never liked the movies. I think they’re boring and over-hyped.
Since I haven’t read the books in quite a while, I forgot a lot of the plot
and names of certain characters. Nobody ever bothers to say the characters’
names, and they don’t explain a lot of strange things that happen. I forgot
what The Order of the Phoenix does, and no one ever discussed it or really
explained who’s a part of it and who is fighting against it.
Despite my dislike of the first three films (and mild distaste for the
fourth), this is my favorite so far. There are a lot of problems with the
plot, and a lot of holes that were never filled, but I thought that the
screenwriter (Michael Goldenberg) did a good job of choosing which parts of
the plot were important, and which parts could be left out for the sake of
A lot of the actors have really grown into
their roles, and they were much more natural and believable than they have
been in the past. To my dismay, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione
Granger (Emma Watson) didn’t have a very large role in this film, but
Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), who has a larger role in the next film,
continues to be one of my favorite characters. He has really changed from
being the dopey klutz to a very loyal friend and troubled soul. A lot of the
other characters are poorly acted though, and they’re as stuff as they were
in The Sorcerer’s Stone.
My favorite part of this film, and one
of the only things that kept me from completely hating it, was the special
effects. In the past, the effects have been very unrealistic and even crude
at some points (with some good moments), but this time around they have
become very artistic and beautiful. The cinematography and the effects mesh
together seamlessly, and I was never distracted by any CGI that stood out
strangely from the background.
I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced
into liking the movies, and people are always going to be upset about their
favorite part being left out. As a film that stands alone though, The Order
of the Phoenix is beautifully done, and has matured quite a bit from the
early days of Harry’s adventures.
A warning to those who haven’t read or
re-read the books: brush up on some Harry history, because there are some
major plot points and characters that will leave you confused and lost at a
few points during the 138 minute epic.