Guest Author - Tammy Cordani
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Harry Melling, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Brendan Gleeson, Natalie Tena, George Harris, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Mark Williams, Alan Rickman, Robert Hardy, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, Emma Thompson
Rating: PG-13 for frightening images and fantasy violence
Runtime: 138 minutes
Times are getting darker for Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson). “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” starts off on a sweltering summer day. Harry has a run-in with his cousin Dudley when the skies overhead began to darken. The two run for cover but they’re suddenly attacked by the dreaded Dementors. Harry has no choice but to use a patronus charm against them.
The patronus charm only adds to Harry’s problems when he (much to his Uncle Vernon’s delight) receives a notice that he’s been expelled from Hogwarts for conjuring the spell in front of a Muggle. All isn’t lost! After Vernon (Griffiths), Petunia (Shaw) and Dudley leave the house, members of the Order of the Phoenix including Mad Eye Moody (Gleeson) , Tonks (Tena) and Shacklebolt (Harris) arrive to take Harry to the Order’s headquarters which happens to be the home of Sirius Black (Oldman). Once there Harry is reunited with his friends and is also informed of two things: Voldemort (Fiennes) may be looking for a “secret weapon” that he didn’t have the last time he was in power and also that Harry will have to attend a hearing at the Ministry of Magic.
It’s not all fun and games at the Ministry when Harry’s hearing is moved up in an attempt to expel him permanently from Hogwarts. However, Dumbledore (Gambon) saves the day when he not only provides a convincing argument in Harry’s defense but also an eyewitness to the attack by the Dementors. Harry is allowed to go to Hogwarts.
But is Hogwarts the safest place to be? Not with the Ministry involved. Enter Dolores Umbridge, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, who not only demands order from the students but has a unique way of disciplining them when the need arises. Since Umbridge (along with the Ministry) is keen not to teach the students defensive spells, Harry and the others form “Dumbledore’s Army” in an effort to learn things themselves, practicing in the magical Room of Requirement.
Meanwhile, Harry questions his own sanity when he keeps having vivid nightmares about what Voldemort is doing. One vision includes an attack on Mr. Weasley (Williams) at the Ministry of Magic which turns out to be all too real. Fearing Voldemort may be trying to gain access/control of Harry’s mind/thoughts, Dumbledore insists that Professor Snape (Rickman) teach Harry the art of Occlumency. This plan doesn’t go exactly as expected.
Things soon go from bad to worse when Umbridge discovers the students of the “D.A.” in the Room of Requirement. With the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge (Hardy), threatening him with a one way ticket to Azkaban, Dumbledore (although he didn’t have a hand in it) admits to putting together the “D.A.” but is able to escape the clutches of the Ministry with the help of Fawkes. This leaves Umbridge the Headmaster of Hogwarts.
But some students are going to take it anymore! Fred and George Weasley (James and Oliver Phelps) decide they’ve just about had enough of school and particularly Umbridge and the pair makes a spectacular exit from Hogwarts on the day of wizarding exams. But as the twins take their leave, Harry sees another vision, this one of Voldemort torturing Sirius in the Ministry of Magic. Will Harry, Ron, and Hermione along with Ginny (Wright), Neville (Lewis) and Luna (Lynch) be able to make it to the Ministry of Magic in time? What other secrets are waiting for them there? You’ll have to watch “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” to find out.
There is a lot to like about this movie. I’ve always thought the cast of the “Harry Potter” movies was great. This time around we also get the added benefit of Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”) as Dolores Umbridge, whose love for kittens and the color pink hide her true venomous nature. There is also the addition of Helena Bonham Carter as the deranged Bellatrix Lestrange, who has just busted out of Azkaban.
Two action moments stood out in my mind in this one. The first has to be the Weasley twins “explosive” exit from Hogwarts complete with a dragon made of fireworks that chases Umbridge. The other has to be the entire scene at the Ministry of Magic at the end. It’s intense from Harry and the others’ encounter with the Deatheaters to the arrival of the Order to help and then Voldemort’s confrontation with Dumbledore. The effects are great!
The book itself is around 870 pages and I thought it was a decent adaptation, focusing on the major points of the story. There were a few things I would have liked to have seen such as the confrontation between Snape and Sirius at the Order of the Phoenix headquarters, McGonagall (Smith) coming to Hagrid’s (Coltrane) aid when he’s getting sacked, Neville visiting his parents at the hospital and Mr. Weasley’s explanation of “stitches” to Mrs. Weasley (Walters). Also a better explanation of the prophesy, which, if memory serves me right, was told by Trelawney (Thompson). These are just minor things, and never know, they could pop up on a “deleted scenes” section of a DVD one day.
My Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 stars
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