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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Much darker than previous films in the Harry Potter franchise, The Order of the Phoenix is an enthralling, atmospheric ride.

The acting from all three leads is notably improved, and Daniel Radcliffe, in particular, seems to have relaxed into the role of Harry, giving a nicely shaded, naturalistic performance. A big part of the thrill of these movies, I've always thought, has been watching the three leads mature over the course of the franchise, both physically and as actors.

During the course of this movie, the fifth, there are some flashbacks to Harry's past, for example, where we see actual footage from earlier films. It's something of a shock to realize that we've watched these three young people grow up on screen.

The adult cast members in Order are uniformly excellent, as always. And it's a treat to see Helena Bonham Carter showing up in the role of Sirius' mad, Death Eater cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange.

The Order of the Phoenix is the most political of the Potter films so far, and indeed, for a children's movie, the film has some distinctly adult themes.

potter05It's somewhat unnerving to recognize, for example, that although the political allegories of the film most closely echo the Nazi regime (from its obsession with pure blood to its use of fear and propaganda to manipulate a population), there are distinct parallels to our world today.

The creeping encroachment on civil liberties in the name of 'protection', the covert (and oftentimes overt) lying by an administration to its people, the use of the media to obscure the truth, the abasement of justice. Ringing any bells?

I left Order of the Phoenix having been thoroughly entertained, but this is the first time a Harry Potter movie has given me any real pause for thought.

Bravo to director David Yates for delivering a smart, enchanting film — and one that is as unsettling as it is enjoyable.

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About Kirsten Cameron

  • http://paullevinson.blogspot.com Paul Levinson

    Good review. Order of the Phoenix is my favorite Harry Potter movie thus far – though it’s also my favorite Harry Potter novel thus far, too … Harry Potter and the 3-D Phoenix

  • http://www.kerryj.com Kerry Johnson

    I agree – this is in many ways, the best movie of the franchise. The movie subject matter is growing up with the characters. In this one, the special effects, cinematography, writing and acting were outstanding!

  • mun

    the movie was quite disappointing for me. i read the book and doscovered that most parts are being cut off A LOT

  • http://www.musicandnotes.blogspot.com/ kirsten

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    And mun — I can understand your disappointment if you went into the film hoping it would closely follow the book. I heard that this was the shortest Harry Potter movie out of the lot, while the book is the longest in the series. I personally think the director and screenwriter did an excellent job of distilling J.K. Rowling’s vision into a movie format, though. I feel that they beautifully captured the essence of the book (even if they didn’t keep every single narrative twist and turn). And I think that’s the best you can hope for when adapting something for the big screen, no?

  • http://silverstarhawk.livejournal.com Jared Wright

    Yeah, 2 hours and 17 minutes to cover 870 pages. It was bound to hack parts out liberally. In a way, it’s too bad. I very much wish these could take the route of George R.R. martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series and go with a regular show on HBO or something and have each season represent one book. Of course, that’s not the moneymaker, so it’d never happen, but it’d flesh out the setting so much for those wanting to watch rather than read.

    All that aside, they did a good job with the format that we have. Couple things they left out that are looking to be integral to the story though, so I hope Yates doesn’t do anything silly to make up for it.

  • tumat

    I didnt like it & hope they get a better scriptwriter & director for the final 2 films