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Movie Review - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Poster Art ©Warner Brothers
Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Directed by David Yates. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images. Run Time: 2 hours 18 minutes.

Let me start off by saying that I have never read the Harry Potter book series. That being said, I watch these movies with nothing in my head about what SHOULD be on the screen based on the book. I also have no idea where the series is going as I stay away from reading all the news articles and mania that surrounds Harry Potter. Doing this, let's me enjoy the movie as a movie first.

© Warner Brothers
In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," Harry returns for his fifth year of study at Hogwarts and discovers that much of the wizarding community is in denial about the teenager's recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort, preferring to turn a blind eye to the news that Voldemort has returned. Fearing that Hogwarts' venerable Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is lying about Voldemort's return in order to undermine his power and take his job, the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, appoints a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher to keep watch over Dumbledore and the Hogwarts students. But Professor Dolores Umbridge's Ministry-approved course of defensive magic leaves the young wizards woefully unprepared to defend themselves against the dark forces threatening them and the entire wizarding community, so at the prompting of his friends Hermione and Ron, Harry takes matters into his own hands. Meeting secretly with a small group of students who name themselves "Dumbledore's Army," Harry teaches them how to defend themselves against the Dark Arts, preparing the courageous young wizards for the extraordinary battle that lies ahead.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter © Warner Brothers
It is safe to say that if you have not seen or read the previous installments in this terrific series, you should probably not see this one first. The movie does nothing to introduce characters but rather relies on the audience having a previous knowledge of the general characters and settings.

This movie is directed by series newcomer David Yates, who keeps the general feeling and flavor of the previous movies while expanding on the dark elements. I found myself generally enjoying the movie, however it felt as if some of the 'magic' was gone. Maybe that is because of the evil and dark elements that have creeped into the series giving it a new direction. This new direction is not a bad thing. It appears that the series is growing up and doing it well. It is believable and real as it gets for wizards flying around in a hidden world battling each other with wands. The filmmakers concentrate most of the story on the internal/external struggle of Harry, which serves them well. It keeps the series grounded and provides the emotional center to an ever-expanding world of fantasy.

© Warner Brothers
With no knowledge of the books, I have to turn to my wife, Amanda, to see if this movie follows the book or not. She explained that their was tons of stuff left out and lots and lots of things that were condensed, combined, and shortened. I took this to mean, she was disappointed with the new film, however she was not. She wished they had taken more time with the characters instead of rushing through the main plot lines, but overall appreciated that the general feel and tone of the book was accurately represented. With a book that size, I commend the filmmakers for trimming it down into a lean, polished product. I believe that a book and a film are completely different art forms and it may be necessary to change story points when it is ported from one format to the other.

I felt the movie was a worthy addition to the Harry Potter series. I went in expecting something similar to the previous movies, and was treated to a new darker, more adult Harry Potter. Not a bad thing, just different. This film will be regarded as a turning point for the Potter series and it did it admirably. If the remaining films continue on this path, and my resident Potter expert says the books do, then I will be even more excited about the next Harry Potter film.

© Warner Brothers
You can check it out for yourself by catching a showtime at the Cinema 3 Theatre in McCook. Showtimes vary and can be found at www.fridleytheatres.com.

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Anybody see this movie? What did you think?

-- Posted by brokenblade on Mon, Jul 16, 2007, at 1:06 PM

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