Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (12A)



Family (2007)
138mins US/UK

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Imelda Staunton
Director: David Yates
Writer(s): Michael Goldenberg
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Harry and his chums Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts for their fifth term, where news of Voldemort's increasing power is dismissed by many key figures in the wizarding community. The arrival of a new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge, sets in motion a devastating chain of events that will change life at the school forever.

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LondonNet Film Review
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

Widely considered to be the weakest book in the seven-part odyssey of boy wizard Harry Potter, it seems somewhat fitting that the film version of The Order Of The Phoenix is, in some respects, the least satisfying installment too...

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. Copyright: Warner Bros.Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg has trimmed away much of the fat of JK Rowling's bloated 768-page tome, concentrating on key events and characters. The focus is on Harry, largely at the expense of peripheral players, including Professors Snape and McGonagall and the demented Bellatrix Lestrange. Poor Ron is shoved so far into the background he may as well not be in the film at all, save for a couple of crisp one-liners and a perfunctory scene to support his best mate Harry when the rest of Hogwarts is turning against him. Hermione fares slightly better - she at least gets to accompany Harry on his late night excursion into the Forbidden Forest.

Production values are gloriously high, from Stuart Craig's production design to Stephanie McMillan's impeccable set decoration and Jany Temime's lustrous costumes. Even Daniel Radcliffe's pivotal performance as the eponymous wizard, which undermined some of the earlier films, has improved greatly. He has finally realised that when it comes to acting in front a camera, which picks up every subtle shift of emotion, less is more. The infamous kiss with Cho Chang is artfully staged, without a single hesitation or nervous clattering of noses; you smooth devil, Harry. Yet for all of the visual splendour and sterling performances, this fifth film is all gloss and scant emotion.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. Copyright: Warner Bros."There's a storm coming, Harry. We'd all best be ready," warns Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), as students return for a new term at Hogwarts. Harry (Radcliffe) and loyal chums Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) find that news of Harry's encounter with Voldemort is being roundly dismissed by key figures including sanctimonious Minister For Magic, Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy). When headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) adds his voice to the ground swell of concerned wizards and witches - "Cornelius, I implore you. The evidence that the dark lord is back in incontrovertible!" - he is ousted from his seat, replaced by Professor Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). She sets in motion a devastating chain of events that changes school life forever. When the storm that Hagrid predicts finally breaks, students including Neville (Matthew Lewis), Luna (Evanna Lynch) and Cho (Jatie Leung) join forces with Harry's godfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) and their kin to face Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his dark army.

With the publication of the last book later this month, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix will soar to great heights at the box office, carried along by the unwavering support of the fans. It's hard to imagine many of them being completely satisfied. The climactic death of a central protagonist, the scene which defined the book, is a complete non-event, unfolding in slow motion with only Nicholas Hooper's non-descript orchestral score to fill the void. Grief and desolation, which rippled off the page, don't even tinge the big screen, and for all of Harry's wailing about his darkening mood - "I just feel angry all of the time. What if I'm becoming a bad person?" - we don't get a clear sense of his pain or distress. Fiennes begins to impose himself on the role of chief villain while Staunton is marvellous as the slippery Umbridge, concealing her sadistic streak behind pink frou frou and a girlish giggle.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. Copyright: Warner Bros.Director David Yates orchestrates the myriad elements with assurance but in the absence of any big action sequences until the final showdown at the Ministry of Magic, which takes place largely in the darkness lit only by the glow of the students' wands, the running time errs towards uncomfortably long.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix: An IMAX 3D Experience, showing from July 12 at IMAX cinemas in Birmingham, Bradford, Glasgow and Manchester, boasts the final showdown in eye-popping 3D. Now that's what I call magic.

- Jo Planter

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