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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon. Imelda Staunton, Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Evanna Lynch, Katie Leung, Matthew Lewis, Harry Melling, Gary Oldman, Julie Walters, Mark Williams and Jason Isaacs
Director: David Yates
Scriptwriter: Michael Goldenberg (adapted from the novel by J. K. Rowling)
Composer: Nicholas Hooper
Warner Brothers
Rated: PG 13
Running Length: 139 minutes

Just as a great part of the reading world is waiting for the last installment of author J. K. Rowling’s book series, “Harry Potter,” film fans are waiting for the next cinematic installment. Here it is, Order of the Phoenix There are a few changes, and this time director David Yates is at the helm. You can tell, as transition from scene to scene is not smooth. Also, Imelda Staunton is Dolores Umbridge, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Staunton steals the film and it is with a sigh of relief when her pink outfit is off the screen. Special effects are wonderful, but don’t expect a Quiddith match. With Rowling’s books becoming longer, it is difficult to condense and keep a coherent story. Of the three leads, Daniel Radcliffe now appears too old for the part. He is acting, too, as a result of a successful London stage appearance. Rupert Grint looks taller and Emma Watson’s dialogue is becoming increasingly difficult to understand. Will someone, please, tell her to slow down?

The basic story begins with Harry (Ratcliffe) and his cousin Dudley (Harry Melling) coming under attack from some ghostly wraiths. Turns out that Potter fans will know they are Death Eaters, but the general public who hasn’t seen a Potter film before this one, will be lost. What is going on in Potterland? Well, it seems as though the dreaded Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is on the prowl again and Harry stands in his way. That is the theme throughout the Rowling books, a confrontation between Harry Potter, the only person who has gotten away from Voldemort, and the beastly creature, himself. Anyway, back at the ranch, er, Hogwarts School of Magic, Headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is accused of keeping secret the fact that Voldemort is prowling, so the Headmaster is dismissed and enter a new teacher (ambition personified) named Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) who wears a pink suit and frozen smile. Yes, kiddies, this person would think castor oil is good for everyone. Students’ rebel against her, Harry Potter secretly trains students to defend themselves against Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). They are easy to spot at Isaacs has white hair and Bellatrix is dressed in black and cackles a lot. Harry has a new friend, Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). Harry, also,  has his godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) to help him. The finale’ is well-staged.

Not only for being overly long, but Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the weakest of the Potter films, so far. Director David Yates has a choppy way of telling the story. Nicholas Hooper’s music is weak, no melody there. Remember the first “Potter” film with John Williams’s soundtrack? Dolores Umbridge could be toned down quite a bit to let the audience know there are other actors in the film. However, the main fault lies with Emma Watson, who has been lead to believe that acting is stepping forward, rapidly reciting your lines, and then stepping back. This isn’t a school play. Her dialogue is lost. Comparing her delivery to, let’s say, Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, shows the weakness. 

Order of the Phoenix is darker than previous books/films, and this will continue until the end of the series and final confrontation. Special effects include a wonderful broomstick ride along the Thames, another world under the streets of London and the finale’. Harry’s first kiss is brief, then it’s back to work, you know. Characters come and go. Hagrid, was that you? All, in all, this film is a disappointment. “Harry Potter” needs to entice movie fans to continue with him and at this rate, instead of a “What’s next?” the final film may be a sigh of relief. Let’s hope not.

Copyright 2007 Marie Asner



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