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Happily Jinxed by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Published July 10, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Ryan Parsons | Image property of Warner Bros.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Gandalf has wet dreams about magic like this. Taking a risk with semi-newcomer David Yates, Warner Bros. not only shows the type of brass they have, but that it is directors who love the material at hand that make the best films. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix should rank as one of the best (if not the best) Potter films to date, and is easily the most faithful adaptation.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Since technology continues to improve, it comes as no surprise that the special effects in Order of the Phoenix are the best we have seen from the franchise to so far. Though there was an early effect that had me questioning where the budget was going, Yates more than makes up for this with suspenseful (amazing, stupendous) wizard battles, great panning shots of Hogwarts, and a strong emphasis on The Daily Prophet – which, as it does in the book, blasts Potter’s credibility for almost the entire film’s running. While the tabloid is briefly shown in each Potter installment, Phoenix must emphasize on the publication. To do so, Yates pulls off a similar tabloid effect that we have seen in the Spider-Man franchise. Not only does it look cool, but it makes for an easy segway into other scenes.

Since most Potter fans have read the books multiple times, it is impossible to ignore how well the source material transferred. When Yates claimed that he loves the Potter stories, he wasn’t kidding. Even with the frighteningly short running time for what is the longest book, Yates finds a way to touch upon some of the smallest Potter details. Does he, like every other Potter film before this, fail to touch on some important aspects? Of course, but he still knows where to make it count.

Like the book, Harry Potter and the Order the Phoenix is no ‘kids movie.’ Potter not only sports a temper in this latest installment, but the film shows an appreciation for darker tones and corporal punishment. That’s right, Dolores Umbridge is nastier here than she was in the book. Played wonderfully by Imelda Staunton, the character knows how to push both the audience’s and characters’ buttons. She is wicked, and even comes packing a bitch slap!

The little things. This is what will strike a chord with Potter fans across the globe. David Yates and scribe Michael Goldenberg must have read the book a couple of times. What does he include that some readers might have missed? A couple brief looks between Potter and Ginny Weasley; a relationship that does carry into the later book. The growing and very natural relationship between Ron and Hermione.

Ginny, Ginny, Ginny! It is hinted at a few times in the novels that Ginny could be the most powerful wizard in the Weasley family. Even the twins (in the book) admit she is surprisingly strong with jinxes. Taking me by surprise, the film, like the book, gives Ginny a few brief moments to show that she is a powerhouse of magic. I won’t give these scenes away, but pay close attention.

Dumbledore’s conclusion. In every Potter book we get a concluding conversation with Dumbledore to help explain some small details we might not have understood. The last two films decided to look over this conversation -- something that made me complain both times -- while Order of the Phoenix allows Potter and Dumbledore a quick sit-down at the end. Sure, the conversation is not nearly as in-depth as it is in the books, but at least it exists.

So, what’s missing? Quite a few big pieces, some more important than others.

Not showing that Ron was the prefect? I’ll let it go. Not showing Quidditch and Ron’s position as keeper? Ten minutes covering this would have been nice. No discovery of the Horcrux Locket in Black’s house? Since this item is one of the most debated from the fifth book, I can’t believe that JK Rowling allowed this magical object to go unnoticed. If predictions are correct, this item is critical to the story.

No in-depth mention of the prophecy? Though illiterate Potter fans will let it slide, the ones who actually read the book (the majority) should be outraged by this deception. We barely hear the prophecy in the film, and we are not even told who made it. Worst than that, an essential character, who is in the prophecy, gets completely left out of it in the film. This is so very important! The prophecy mentions Neville in the book, and suggests that it is maybe he who has to kill Voldemort. Though most fingers still point to Potter, the new theory raises doubt on who the final hero could be. Considering that Neville’s abilities grow tenfold in the book and movie, I figured that there would be no reason to leave out this crucial detail. It would have taken an extra thirty seconds from the final conversation with Dumbledore to discuss the prophecy and Neville. The character was cheated, seriously.

When it comes to the characters, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is one of the few films all year that figured out how to show off incredible special effects and action sequences while keeping the characters center stage. Every character in this film has their moments, and there are a ton of them. Portraying Sirius as the loving Godfather who sees Harry more like a friend than a relative was very well done. While the last film featured some instances of overacting, all the characters are spot on this time. The kids have all grown up and show just how natural they can be in front of a camera. Nothing is forced, not even the forming relationships that are subliminally hinted at. As I mentioned previously, Imelda Staunton’s performance as Dolores is worth its weight in magical galleons.

As icing on the cake, Order of the Phoenix finishes big. And when I mean big, I mean huge. While Lord of the Rings’ Gandalf used magic like it was a sin to do so, the wizards and witches in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix fire off compelling spells every chance they get. Yates teases us for the first hundred minutes of the film and ends on a finale of fireworks. What do you know, magic is awesome!

The final battle! Are you kidding me?! Final proof that magic is dangerous! We are also given our first look at how powerful both Death Eaters and the Order actually are. Magic that blows up cement, tile and everything else that stands in its way is too good to be true. The same goes for humans. When people get hit with nasty spells in OotP they get injured and bleed. Yes folks; blood gets spilt in (sometimes) large quantities. I don’t want to give the character away, but in the final battle we see a couple of the younger characters taking more than just spells to the face. Do they get hurt? Hell yes, they pop up with bloody faces! Easily the coolest segment for the entire Potter franchise.

In a year with so many disappointing sequels, Order of the Phoenix reminds us that neither McClane, Sparrow, nor Spidey can stand up to Potter.

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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros.

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