Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (2007)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 7.9/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 7/10


The Dark Lord Voldemort has returned, and the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to deny this truth, launching smear campaigns against Harry and Dumbledore due to Harry's confrontation with Voldemort during the events of Goblet of Fire. These are dark times, and Voldemort has already begun to build an army. In response, so has the Order of the Phoenix.

The fifth installment of the series, The Order of the Phoenix follows Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends once again, as Hogwarts gets slowly taken over by the Ministry under the hands of Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). Building a rebellion against the non-believers of the Dark Lord's return as well as against Umbridge's reluctance to teach the Dark Arts, Harry and his friends gather all of their fellow hallmates, forming what is known as Dumbledore's Army.

As a start, Order of the Phoenix does extreme justice to new content illustrated by the novel. From seeing the Ministry of Magic for the first time to seeing Umbridge or Luna Lovegood on screen, David Yates skillfully adapts everything faithfully. Intriguing, magical, but inevitably more realistic, the Ministry of Magic is known as the largest set built for the franchise, out of all eight films. As usual, the film's production design, art direction, and set pieces are all grand and the visual effects are all state-of-art. Visually, The Order of the Phoenix is mesmerizing to watch.

Arguably, the most impressive and strongest component about the fifth entry is its ability to adapt the novel. True, the film misses approximately half of the novel, but it adapts all the necessary elements well and trims all the elongated sections in the original source material. The most interesting thing is probably the fact that Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in the series, but the shortest film in the franchise, with the exception of Deathly Hallows being split into two films.

Order of the Phoenix is arguably the first installment where the cast really work together and be one single entity, instead of literally being a laundry list of names. This is likely because of the storyline, where the Order is formed together with the common goal of stopping the Dark Lord. Without a doubt, Harry's fifth journey is when characterization really starts to drive the massive war between good and evil in the wizarding world.

The film is exceptionally paced, but it lacks actual storytelling, if that makes sense. Yes, the directing is fantastic and is briskly executed like a wizard waving his wand, but in exchange for the visual appeal, variation was taken away. As a result, the film ends up dragging in the plot department, and might end up penalizing the audience to have one of the worst feelings: being bored. 

If you are a Harry Potter fan, then Order of the Phoenix might end up being one of the best films because of its adaptation to the novel. As a film adaptation, Order of the Phoenix is indeed one of the more impressive entries. However, as a piece of filmmaking, the film's cinematic magic never reaches the surface, even when there is so much action and visual wizardry seen on screen. Indeed, the film has large set pieces, impressive effects, and great acting, but the impact that it leaves behind misses more substance.

To be honest, I was not fond of Order of the Phoenix during the first viewing. Without a doubt, it is the bleakest installment in the series, and probably holds the "episodic feeling" the most. Then again, I highly respect David Yates as a director, for he has been given a great challenge this time around. Come to think of it, Order of the Phoenix is *the* most challenging Harry Potter film of them all, even more challenging than the conclusion. The film holds a load of backstory, disclosures and plot explanations that are clearly needed before the franchise approaches Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows. At the same time, even though Phoenix is a necessary film for the audience, it is probably the least enjoyable entry of them all.

In parallel to the words of the San Francisco Chronicle, there is a large chunk of the film that is very superb that probably lasts an hour, but "you'll have to blast through [the film's running time of] 138 minutes to find it."

In conclusion, The Order of the Phoenix is a step down from its predecessors, but achieves its goal in adapting its source material. It thrives with great characterization, more heavily on the supporting cast this time around, and the visual effects all hold up as impressive and beautiful. However, it is slowly degrading in its filmmaking magic, yet makes a fine bridge between Goblet of Fire and the highly anticipated Half-Blood Prince. It does an adequate job in continuing Harry's journey, especially now that the Dark Lord is back, but The Order of the Phoenix, as a film itself,  lacks the glamour and brilliance that sparked all the previous entries.

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