Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the one sequel that moves faster than a freight train, but holds true to everything we value about the previous Harry Potter films.
The story continues, Harry Potter is a year older, villain Lord Voldamort (Ralph Fiennes) is still alive and still seeking blood, and Harry is still trying to deal with the trappings of adolescence. This time, the evil lord, Tom Riddle is gathering an army to fight all of the good guys. We’re not talking about Jedi vs. Sith, we’re talking about wizards and witches versus angry, power-happy, ex-cons and witches and wizard rejects. Along the way, Potter and his friends, Hermione Granger (Watson), and Ron Weasley (Grint) find new friends, new enemies, and share their feelings.
The newest friends are a plucky, absent-minded or should I say, insane little girl by the name of Luna Lovegood, Hagrid’s half-brother, a funny-looking giant (questionable CGI), and everyone who is still alive in the Order of the Phoenix. Among these people in the order is Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), Ron’s parents, and a few other faces from the past. They were all among the people that first fought the evil Lord Voldamort 14 years earlier. Harry recruits his own team to fight this threat – a threat that’s plagued him in one form or another since the beginning.
The newest enemy has nothing to do with Voldamort – in fact, she’ll even pitch a fit and punish you like it still T’was the medieval times. This threat is in the form of Ministry of Magic representative, cutesy Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). She has an entire collection of magical plates with cats on them. These picture meow incessantly. Her office is more pink than anything in Legally Blonde. You’d think this woman would be sweet. Think again. She’s a real horror show who might actually scare away Lord Voldamort just by ordering him to her office. The things she does to Harry’s school, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is frustrating to the least, but you can’t deny the woman’s talent for getting under our skin.
Directing: David Yates’ is not the most original eye. He takes no chances, shows us nothing we haven’t seen before. But, this series is successful due to a formula set by original director, Chris Columbus. Yates does well given the formula. He gives us great angles for some awe-inspiring special effects. But the extreme closeup shots of Harry or anyone else for that matter gets a little repetitive.
Writing: This is J. K. Rowling’s book, what more can be said? If you read the book, you pretty much know what happens. If you’ve never picked up a book a day in your life but you absolutely loved the previous films, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has everything you would expect, and a couple pleasant surprises. The writing gets a little loopy whenever Umbridge is on screen, but maybe our feelings of vengeance are clouding our judgement.
Acting: You’ve got big stars; such as, Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List), Gary Oldman (Dracula, The Fifth Element), Alan Rickman (Die Hard, the last four Harry Potter films), Emma Thompson (Sense & Sensibility), and Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club). Then you’ve got all of the kids or should I say, students. Everyone does an exceptional job. But, the real surprise is Staunton (Shakespeare in Love) job as Professor Umbridge. She’s pleasant to listen to but evil in nature. You want to strangle the woman whenever she comes on screen, but she masks that evil personality behind a friendly smile. It’s a great performance.