After a lonely summer on Privet Drive, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to a Hogwarts full of ill-fortune. Few of students and parents believe him or Dumbledore (Sir Michael Gambon) that Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is really back. The ministry had decided to step in by appointing a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), who proves to be the nastiest person Harry has ever encountered. Harry also can’t help stealing glances with the beautiful Cho Chang (Katie Leung). To top it off are dreams that Harry can’t explain, and a mystery behind something for which Voldemort is searching. With these many things, Harry begins one of his toughest years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
User Reviews: Within the first 5 minutes you can tell the series has undergone a dramatic tone shift and I have to say I think thats appropriate since Voldemorts return at the end of Goblet of Fire means that it’s time to put aside childish things. The big bad men are here and they don’t care about hurting children. it’s time to get nasty.
Gone is the frivolity of the first couple of movies where magic was cool and everything in this new and magical world was just wonderful to behold, a la World of Disney. The new director has taken some risks with style and approach and they’ve paid off brilliantly. Order of the Phoenix is probably the darkest of the five movies we’ve had so far, even more so than Azkhaban which was a step in the right direction for where the series would eventually be heading. There’s very little "fun" in Phoenix and you can see why. The Dark Lord is back, it’s no laughing matter and this movie actually sells that fact.
This (in the movie world at least) is where Harry Potter crosses the line from kids movie to grown ups movie.
Harry now has some serious mental scars (as well as his actual one of course) since the events of the previous movie which while lighter than Azkhaban, followed on well from that movie. The Ministry of Magic is in denial about Voldermorts return and are trying to control the flow of rumour stemming from the events of Goblet. To this end we have new teacher and Ministry stooge Dolores Umbridge. Pink and fluffy on the outside, crunchy and evil on the inside. She makes no qualms about re-ordering the law at Hogwarts putting the kybosh on anything even remotely fun and making the students lives a complete misery. What she put Harry through in detention was simply pure evil.
She wasn’t quite how I pictured her from the book but Imelda Staunton played her with a deliciously bitter/sweet twist, all charming and proper in her righteous delusions with that "stab you in the back" thing going on. She was a nasty piece of work.
It is a shame that a lot of the content of the book was missing but it was a big book and although I can’t put my finger on what wasn’t in the movie (I read it a while ago now) it does sometimes feel that there should have more substance to a few areas, mainly the characterisation of some of the characters. Most of the major bits I remember from the book were in the movie. There’s a pace here we haven’t seen before, a new musical approach also puts a new twist on things and I think Harry Potters world seems to fit it’s new clothes well. I’m eagerly anticipating what’s next as I hear David Yates is also directing the Half Blood Prince (last I heard anyway) and since that book has zombies in it I think the new dark style will suit it awesomely thank you very much.
The characters all look much older than they’re supposed to be in Phoenix but it also kind of works in it’s favour. They all look like they have a bit more history and life experience behind them, they’re coping with stuff that will age any kid and it shows. That’s also testament to the acting as well. Here mostly all the acting is pretty good, Ron Harry and Hermione all put in good efforts obviously having gotten the hang of the whole acting lark. Gambon is good as Dumbledore but I do miss Richard Harris and keep playing what might have been his versions of Gambons scenes over in my head. When I read the books it’s Harris I’m picturing. Helena Bonham Carter gives a kooky insane kind of air to Bellatrix Lestrange (must get that from hubby Tim Burton) who was a pretty good character. One thing about this film though is that the actual Order of the Phoenix isn’t in it all that much really. A flaw that wasn’t in the book. The line about Snape being in the order, if you missed it you wouldn’t even know he was in the order at all and a subsequent scene later on might seem confusing.
Kreacher was well done I though, coming across as a real miserable old bugger which was appropriate. The producers apparently weren’t going to put him in the movie at all but JK Rowling said they’d be stuffing themselves up for the final movie if they did that.
All in all I think Phoenix is the best so far of the five movies, followed by Azkhaban, Goblet, then the other two in no particular order.
Now I’ve just got hold of The Deathly Hallows and although it’s quarter past five I’m off to bed so see you later….