Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES (2-DISC): Additional Scenes (15 Minutes); The Hideen Secrets Of Harry Potter – Explore All The Movies In The Series For Clues To The Mystery Of Harry’s True Destiny; Trailing Tonks – Natalia Tena (aka Nymphadora Tonks) Leads A Very Personal Film Set Tour; Harry Potter: The Magic Of Editiing – Director David Yates And Editor Mark Day Snow What A Difference A Good Edit Makes; DVD-ROM Enhanced Features.
THE fifth film in the Harry Potter franchise is the darkest and most complicated yet. Based on the longest book in the series, it’s notable for featuring the death of an important character as well as Harry Potter’s first kiss.
Both are handled competently by director David Yates (of TV’s State of Play and Sex Traffic) but The Order Of The Phoenix may still leave viewers feeling a little under-whelmed in places.
Haunted by the return of the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and the subsequent murder of classmate Cedric, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) enters his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry guilt-ridden and angry.
His mood isn’t helped by the repeated attempts to get him expelled by new teacher, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). Determined to fight back, Harry starts his own army with the assistance of best friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) as well as Sirius Black (Gary Oldman).
But he also has to contend with his own adolescence and his growing attraction to Cho Chang (Katie Leung). These are complicated, dangerous times for the young wizard.
For the most part, The Order Of The Phoenix remains a successful entry into the series. It features improved performances from its rapidly maturing younger cast, and some fantastic ones from the likes of Imelda Staunton and Gary Oldman. And Yates adds a gritty realism to some of the action that feels in keeping with the darker tone of proceedings.
Daniel Radcliffe manages to invest Harry with the confusion and anger of a deeply troubled teenager without making him too dislikeable and shares some genuinely heartfelt moments with Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black. But his relationship with Leung’s Cho Chang is under-played and only really amounts to the one big kiss.
Experienced old hands Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane and Michael Gambon prove as reliable as ever in making the characters of Snape, Hagrid and Dumbledore enjoyable (despite limited screen time) and newcomer Imelda Staunton is clearly having a whale of a time as the sly, sinister Dolores Umbridge, who accompanies each angry tirade with a delicious nervous giggle.
The look, feel and special effects are also impressive, maintaining the high standards set by both The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire, and Yates manages to keep up a sustained air of impending evil by some clever use of editing and flashback, building on the excellent early momentum generated by the opening encounter with a couple of Death Eaters.
It’s just a shame that the conclusion fails to deliver the rush of excitement it consistently promises and feels particularly ambiguous to anyone who hasn’t read the books.
The fate of one character, in particular, fails to carry as much of an impact as fans might think, while the roles played by both Voldemort (Fiennes) and newcomer Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) feel under-played – Carter, especially, feels short-changed in terms of screen-time.
With this in mind, The Order of the Phoenix feels very much like a pre-cursor to the main event that is, perhaps, hindered by JK Rowling’s expansive source text. It’ll doubtless be as big a success at the box office as its predecessors but as efficient and enjoyable as it remains, there’s a very real sense that the best is still yet to come.
Running time: 2hrs 20mins
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