Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Critic Consensus: It's not easy to take the longest Harry Potter book and streamline it into the shortest HP movie, but director David Yates does a bang up job of it, creating an Order of the Phoenix that's entertaining and action-packed.
Young wizard-in-training Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts for his fifth year of studies, only to find that the magical community seems to be in a curious state of denial about his recent encounter with the sinister Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in the fifth installment of the popular fantasy film series based on the best-selling books by author J.K. Rowling. Rumor has it that the dreaded Lord Voldemort has returned, but Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy) isn't so sure what to make of all the hearsay currently floating around the campus of Hogwarts. Suspecting that Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) may be fueling the rumors regarding Voldemort's return in order to undermine his authority and lay claim to his job, Fudge entrusts newly arrived Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) with the task of tracking Dumbledore and keeping a protective watch over the nervous student body. The young wizards of Hogwarts will need something much more effective than Umbridge's Ministry-approved course in defensive magic if they are to truly succeed in the extraordinary battle that lies ahead, however, and when the administration fails to provide the students with the tools that they will need to defend Hogwarts against the fearsome powers of the Dark Arts, Hermione (Emma Watson), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Harry take it upon themselves to recruit a small group of students to form "Dumbledore's Army" in preparation for the ultimate supernatural showdown. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi … More
|Rating:||PG-13 (for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images)|
|Genre:||Drama, Action & Adventure, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy|
|Directed By:||David Yates|
|Written By:||Michael Goldenberg|
|In Theaters:||Jul 11, 2007 Wide|
|On DVD:||Nov 11, 2007|
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as Harry Potter
as Ron Weasley
as Hermione Granger
as Albus Dumbledore
as Lord Voldemort
as Sirius Black
as Remus Lupin
as Severus Snape
as Bellatrix Lestrange
as Rubeus Hagrid
as Sybil Trelawney
as Lucius Malfoy
as Dudley Dursley
as Vernon Dursley
as Alastor `Madeye' Moo...
as Petunia Dursley
as Minerva McGonagall
as Dolores Umbridge
as TV Weatherman
as Argus Filch
as Filius Flitwick
as Draco Malfoy
as Cornelius Fudge
as Mrs. Weasley
as Zacharias Smith
as Arthur Weasley
as Cho Chang
as Nymphadora Tonks
as Neville Longbottom
as Luna Lovegood
as Cedric Diggory
as Elphias Doge
as Ginny Weasley
as Emmeline Vance
as Vincent Crabbe
as George Weasley
as Kingsley Shacklebolt
as Fred Weasley
as Parvati Patil
as Padma Patil
as Newspaper Vendor
as Percy Weasley
as Seamus Finnigan
as Mafalda Hopkirk
as Lily Potter
as James Potter
as Amelia Bones
as Zacharias Smith
as Arabella Figg
as Gregory Goyle
as Slightly Creepy Boy
as Nigel 2nd Year
as Professor Grubbly-Pl...
as Dean Thomas
as Azkaban Death Eater
as Young Severus Snape
as Young James Potter
as Young Sirius Black
as Young Peter Pettigre...
as Young Remus Lupin
as Death Eater
as Death Eater
as Death Eater
as Death Eater
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Critic Reviews for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
By focussing the story on Harry (a leaner and slightly meaner Daniel Radcliffe) and his exploits, Yates dispenses with many of the novel's subplots and is able to push the story forward, ominously foreshadowing the dark times to come.
Performances are more mature, the soundtrack (by Nicholas Hooper) less grandiose, and Yates executes some thrilling set-pieces.
The older these kids get, the darker and more engrossing the Harry Potter movies become.
It's clear that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has left the dewy-eyed awe of childhood magic and entered the brooding angst of adolescent powerlessness.
Audience Reviews for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
In my previous Harry Potter review, I talked about the challenges the film franchise faced when the books began to grow in size. The continuing success of the series, both on the page and on the screen, put pressure on the directors, producers and writers to include as much of the source material as possible to keep the fans happy. While none of the directors after Chris Columbus have been quite so literal-minded in this regard as he was, the desire for fidelity is still present in different ways.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the beginning of what could be called the long, slow consolidation of the franchise. The first of ultimately four efforts to be helmed by David Yates, it approaches the material with neither the need nor the willingness to prove itself, seemingly confident that fans will know enough about the basics at this point that more new stuff can be crammed in. But while the film has a lot of promising or interesting aspects, it is in the final analysis more episodic and less satisfying than its two predecessors, and may be the weakest film in the series since Chamber of Secrets.
It's very easy to lay the blame for this squarely at the feet of the director. Yates was and is primarily a TV director, having made his name on acclaimed series like State of Play and TV films like The Girl in the Cafe. His only previous theatrical offering, The Tichborne Claimant, was notable for its cast but not for its plot or execution. It would be very simple to assume that Yates simply has an episodic mindset, and is, through his training and sensibility, less capable of long-form, cinematic storytelling than Mike Newell or Alfonso Cuarón.
Whatever truth may be in these statements, however, they are not by any means the whole truth. An equally bigger problem lies in the fact that the series doesn't feel the need to justify each instalment on its own terms anymore. Up until Goblet of Fire, the future of the series felt up in the air just enough to keep everyone on their toes: Newell's film and Prisoner of Azkaban went the extra mile to prove that they were necessary additions to the canos. By the time Order of the Phoenix came to be made, the Harry Potter fandom had developed to such an extent that there was no longer any need for such healthy self-doubt. While the films don't treat the viewers' intelligence with outright contempt, there is still an underlying unwillingness to bring new people on board, even at such a late stage.
There are a lot of things about Order of the Phoenix which are appealing, and any one of them could have the capstone for a film in its own right. There is the tyrannical rule of Delores Umbridge, who descends onto Hogwarts like a terrifying cross between Margaret Thatcher, Mary Whitehouse and Michael Gove. There is the Order of the title, with more details coming forward about Sirius Black and the Malfoys. And there is the overriding conspiracy of denial surrounding Voldemort's return, following the events of the last film.
Order of the Phoenix is significant within the series for being the only film not to be scripted by Steve Kloves. Michael Goldenberg, who wrote Contact and the live-action version of Peter Pan, was brought in to replace Kloves after the latter claimed to be physically and mentally exhausted. Kloves' scripts may never have been perfect, falling into several predictable rhythms, but it's probable that he could have marshalled these different and divergent threads into something more coherently satisfying.
For most of its running time, Order of the Phoenix concerns itself with the first plotline, focussing on Umbridge taking over Hogwarts and inflicting her pink plague upon the students. Imelda Staunton does a really great job getting across all Umbridge's quirks, showing all that latent rage and frustration burning away under the forced smile of quiet, English passive aggression. Her characterisation of Umbridge as a spineless, narrow-minded, pencil-pushing moral crusader is a breath of fresh air compared to the other teachers of Defence Against the Dark Arts, who have by and large been pale, skulking and slippery types, whose physicalisation so often shows their hand too early.
Just as Goblet of Fire did a good job of creating tension through infighting between Harry and his friends, so this film manages to unsettle our feelings of safety by removing all aspects of Hogwarts we have learnt to take for granted. In the previous films, there was always a sense that no matter how bad things got, two things were certain: Dumbledore would be around to help, and Harry wouldsave the day. In Order of the Phoenix both are called into question early on, leaving us uncertain and ever mindful of the gathering evil of Voldemort.
By referring back to the denial of Voldemort by those in authority, Yates introduces a theme of the corruption of the wizarding authority, upon which he expands in the later films. Much like the Time Lords in classic Doctor Who, the Ministry of Magic started out as a seemingly benign and benevolent organisation, but is increasingly portrayed as hubristic, all-controlling and, in the Ministry's case, driven as much by fear as Voldemort ultimately is. Umbridge's reign is the first hint we get of the Nineteen Eighty-Four-inflected view of the wizarding world, removing another crumb of comfort from the audience for our own good.
Further effort is also made to weaken Harry as a reliable protagonist, in this case by his battles with Snape as the latter tries to train his mind against the Dark Lord's influence. Daniel Radcliffe's performance in these scenes demonstrates how far he has matured over the course of the series: he may be playing an easily-angered adolescent, but it's a controlled performance and he responds to Alan Rickman quite superbly. Rickman, naturally, gives as good as he gets, but his best is reserved for his brief, taciturn exchanges with Umbridge.
All of this sounds promising - but there's a problem. Because the book is so big, Yates is never able to develop any of these strands to an entirely satisfying degree, and as a result the whole thing begins to feel inconsequential. Even with all the cuts that he and Goldenberg made before filming had even started, the film still feels like a half-told collection of bits which can't entirely stand on their own. Supporting characters feel increasingly like stations we pass through on a long train journey, and by this point the feeling is not one of intrigue at where we are, but growing frustration at how long it is taking us to get us to our destination.
It may seem churlish to keep comparing Harry Potter to The Lord of the Rings, but here as elsewhere it is a meaningful comparison. Much of the (unwarranted) criticism of The Two Towers focussed on the idea that the film couldn't be taken on its own, with critics (wrongly) claiming that it didn't have a meaningful beginning and end. Order of the Phoenix suffers from the same problem; if you had never seen the first four films, too little of it would make sense for you to enjoy it as a stand-alone. And because so little effort is made to let the casual viewer in, the majority of what happens just washes over you in an unmemorable way.
There are other big problems with Order of the Phoenix outside of its structural integrity. There are internal issues too, relating to the storytelling, the pacing and the integration of the action. Despite being the shortest film in the series, at 138 minutes, the film still feels drawn out in places, with Yates taking a long time to cover aspects which could just as adequately be explained in half the time. The Order itself feels underdeveloped as a concept, with Yates giving more time to more visually memorable but relatively frivolous concepts, such as the Room of Requirement - which is, for the record, both unoriginal (the TARDIS) and lazy to the point of utter desperation.
The big issue with both the drama and the set-pieces is one of emphasis. While he has some credentials in drama, Yates does not do set-pieces very well, the result being that all the fights which should feel weighty instead feel distracted and unfocussed. The final battle between the Order and the Death-Eaters feels empty and perfunctory, with Yates' camera chasing after the action rather than shaping it. The result is that Sirius Black's death carries no meaning at all, which is a huge shame given Gary Oldman's hard work to make him compelling in Prisoner of Azkaban. The same goes for Voldemort's duel with Dumbledore in the Ministry of Magic: we get a three-minute parade of unremarkable special effects, and then it's back to normal as if nothing ever happened.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a middling instalment in the franchise which contains potential but lacks focus in its execution. Its interesting ideas and the moments in which it does come together ultimately redeem it, as least as a passing diversion, but it is the least essential Harry Potter film since Chamber of Secrets. In the end, it's a mild disappointment, being not being bad enough to put you off, but leaving you with some serious concerns going forward.
OMG. Get a haircut. Not the worst (I'm thinking No. 6), but also not the best despite it's shiny presentation. Character development starts in this film -- at least for the kids -- so it's a "must" for the series lovers.
This adaptation of Harry Potter's 5th year at Hogwarts marked the start of David Yates's tenure as director for this series, and it's a position he'd have for the rest of this epic story's duration. It's also the second shortest film in the series, which is a troubling thing considering it is based on the longest of the books.
Things are starting to get real, and really series for Harry following the events of the previous outing. The wizarding world is in a curious state about the return of Voldemort, with a lot of people torn about whether it's really going on or not.
As a result, Harry finds himself in a difficult spot as he struggles to deal with these problems, as well as the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. As the bureaucratic powers that be begin to crackdown on growing suspicions about the return of Voldemort, Harry and his loyal friends start taking matters into their own hands, knowing that it's pretty much the only way to get anything accomplished, despite all the risks involved.
This is a bit of a tough one for the series. As I said, this film is the second shortest, and it's based on the longest book. Unfortunately that means that the film is an extremely streamlined adaptation, with few of the subplots, and a fair amount of condensing of the main story. It also continues the tradition of having a darker tone, though there are still some lighter moments and fun things, though not a nice blend of menace and whimsy like previous entries accomplished.
The core cast return and continue to get better and better. New additions like Helena Bonham Carter and Imelda Staunton are fantastic additions, and make for some gloriously scene stealing villains that are an absolute joy to watch. The music, though not done by Williams, is decent, though I wish they could have stuck more with the type of scores from other films.
The cinematography however, is something I really don't have any complaints with. It's moody, atmospheric, and gets the job done nicely. I think that Yates is a bit wobbly here at times, but can't get too mad as this was his first crack at the series.
All in all, this is a decent movie, but it could and should have been far better. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the book, I'm not sue it needed to be as long as it was. That being said though, I can understand why this film had to get some things, though I wished they could have done a better job at selecting what to keep and what to toss.
I should probably hate on this film a little more, but I find that a little hard to do. I mean yeah, it's flawed, but it's also part of an already ambitious series, and it does get a fair amount of stuff right, so I'll let it slide with the slightest possible 3.5/5 possible.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Quotes
|Harry Potter:||We've been at this for hours! If only I could rest.|
|Severus Snape:||The dark lord isn't resting.|
|Dolores Umbridge:||Professor Snape, you first applied for the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts, did you not?|
|Dolores Umbridge:||And you were unsuccessful?|
|Bellatrix Lestrange:||You filthy mudblood.|
|Albus Dumbledore:||It's Dumbledore's Army, not Potter's.|
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