By Amy Lamare, July 11, 2007
Disclaimer: I am a self-confessed, self-admitted, Harry Potter freak. So there was basically no way on earth I was not going to enjoy Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (HPOT5) when I was lucky enough to attend an advance screening Monday night. But I didn’t just like it, I loved it! It blew me away! It had me on the edge of my seat the entire time – and I read the book so I knew what was going to happen. This fifth installment in the wildly popular series of films based on the wildly popular J.K. Rowling novels is the best film to date.
I won’t go so far as to say this is the Greatest Movie Ever Made, because, well, for one thing, no one would believe me and that would be just ridiculous. Right? Right. Let’s just say I was not the only one practically skipping out of the theatre in my best Luna Lovegood impersonation while exclaiming to my brethren in Potter-mania how fantastic this film was.
David Yates helms this one, which takes a decidedly darker, grittier turn while also managing to stay true to the spirit of the first four Potter films and their legions of fans. All together, the first four films have earned $3.5 billion in theatrical release beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001.
Film opens on a dry, parched English summer with cousin Dudley and his moronic friends bullying Harry in a desolate playground. A storm rolls in fast, too fast, and Harry and Dudley run for cover in a tunnel just as two Dementors, the ghastly, ghostly guards of Azkaban, the wizard prison, attack Harry and Dudley. Harry produces the Patronus spell which served him so well in his duel with Voldemort at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and makes quick work of both Dementors. Dudley is dumbfounded, not knowing what the hell happened as Muggles cannot see Dementors. Luckily, Mrs. Figg, a neighbor on Privet Drive comes into the tunnel to help Harry get Dudley home. Harry tries to hide his wand and Mrs. Figg tells him to keep his wand out, they might come back. Harry comes to learn that Dumbledore asked her to keep an eye on him.
Harry arrives back at his Aunt and Uncle’s house where the situation hasn’t improved and he’s still being treated like an unwelcome houseguest. Soon, a missive arrives from the Ministry of Magic and, well, I don’t want to give too much away to those who haven’t read the books before seeing the movies – but all is not right in the world-neither the Magical world, nor the Muggle world.
As we know from the end of the fourth film, Voldemort is back. The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, refuses to believe this and he and his minions have led a smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore all summer to strip them of all credibility. Basically, things are shaping up exactly as they did fourteen years prior when Voldemort first rose to power and recruited his army and went on the horrific killing spree that led him to be referred to as ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named.’ The Ministry of Magic refuses to acknowledge the possibility of Voldemort’s return.
Harry, Ron, Hermione and the gang head back to Hogwarts for the year to find out the Ministry of Magic is taking an active hand in shaping the curriculum at the school. This new curriculum does nothing to prepare the students for what Harry knows is coming – a showdown with evil personified. Luckily, Hermione, Ron and Harry have an idea.
Ahhh, my love for Harry Potter shows here all too much. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in the series to date at a robust 870 pages, whereas the movie version is the shortest yet at 138 minutes. Basically, if I keep typing, I’m not only going to give away the entire plot, I’m going to rival J.K. Rowling at her most verbose in word count.
It’s a good movie. Nay, it’s a great movie. Go see it.
All the usual characters are back and in fine form, especially Alan Rickman (ARICK) as Professor Snape and Gary Oldman (GOLDM) as Sirius Black. Newcomer Evanna Lynch is delightful as Luna Lovegood as is Imelda Staunton ((ISTAU) as the Devil in Pink, Dolores Umbridge.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is great fun from beginning to end. I can’t wait for the next one!
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