HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
|Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry takes a dramatic, adult turn.||score
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1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
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Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes
UK / USA
Rating / Running Time
M / 138 minutes
(c) moviereview 2006-2007
ABN 72 775 390 361
Growing up is not easy for Harry Potter. On one hand he wants to kiss a girl, on the other his sleep is torn by horrendous nightmares, an evil wizard wants him dead and his beloved headmaster has cast him adrift. Small wonder the young man’s so angry. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is not a happy tale. The young wizard has returned to Hogwarts for his fifth year only to find that he’s the victim of a conspiracy. The Ministry of Magic refutes his story about the return of Lord Voldemort and has installed a spy among the teaching staff. Dolores Umbridge soon flexes her magical muscle and takes over the school to shut down any perceived threat. Naturally, Harry resists and forms Dumbledore’s Army to prepare for rebellion.
As things go from bad to worse, the tone is matched by Yates’ delightfully dark direction. This is the least uplifting and perhaps the least magical of the Potter films. He reduces all characters to support a tight focus on Harry and get to the movie’s emotional heart; and since we're talking about a hormonal teenager with a death threat, it’s not a light one. Yates injects some levity with the scene-stealing Umbridge but her internal ugliness sways the humour toward abhorrence and anger. It’s appropriate, Order of the Phoenix is Harry’s film and he is a tormented young man. Pitched at a more mature audience, much of the story is distressingly adult as Yates uses this to bridge previous films with the upcoming showdown. His robust visual narrative assumes mental agility from the audience, something Harry’s aging fans will appreciate. Growing up isn’t kids stuff; any more than saving the world from fearsome evil.
// COLIN FRASER