Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
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Michael Goldenberg, J.K. Rowling
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Griffiths, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Warwick Davis, Natalia Tena, James Phelps, Chris Rankin, Matthew Lewis, Oliver Phelps, Geraldine Somerville, Tony Maudsley, Jessica Stevenson, George Harris, Harry Melling, Alfie Enoch, Adrian Rawlins, David Bradley, James Walters, Robert Hardy, Richard Leaf, Sian Thomas, William Melling
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Doesn't Quite Capture the Book, The 3rd Best
Of all the Potter books that have been turned into movies thus far, the source material for this film is the most complex, intriguing and character driven of the bunch. The story follows Potter as he comes to grips with the fact that he has a very important connection to Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, chilling in his few scenes), his own anger, mortality, love and loss while the Ministry of Magic starts a witch hunt at Hogwarts.
It is impossible not to notice that the actors are growing up faster than the movies can be made, yet I am not bothered by it. I have grown up watching actors in their 30s play teens, so why would it jar me to watch an 18 year old play 15? It is a non-issue. That said, as they grow Daniel Radcliffe as Potter and Rupert Grint are becoming better actors, while Emma Watson as Hermione Granger has begun to grate. She is quite a one-note actress and it is only becoming more apparent.
Much of the film centres around Dolores Umbridge, a Minister of Magic who comes to Hogwarts to set things into 'order'. Imelda Staunton has the time of her life with this character. She completely personifies the character from the books, and I was hugely impressed.
Another new character comes in the form of Sirius Black's cousin Bellatrix Lestrange. Helena Bonham Carter attacks her very few scenes with incredible pinache. She has always had a dark, morbid and gothic style, even before her relationship with Tim Burton, and she lets it loose with a vicious and great performance here.
Yes, there are many great performances and we finally see a little romance, but the last half of the film felt very thrown together for me. Much of the mystery and style of the book was lost and I think it comes down to direction. The last two Potter films have been directed with such a strong sense of style they almost made me forget the initial two Chris Colombus flims, and this falls somewhere in between. It is probably the funniest of the films, but it should be the darkest. Instead it doesn't capture the disturbing themes of 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' (2005). Perhaps it is because we hardly spend any time with the villians, perhaps it is the return of the "children are awesome and can do anything adults can, maybe better" theme that we were clobbered over the head with in the Colombus films. The final showdown of this film should have been epic, and it tries, but it can't compete with all the epic moments that have come before.
All in all, there are some great elements to this film, like finally seeing Dumbledore face off with Voldemort (it reminded me of Yoda kicking ass), however it is my third favorite of the films overall. The film tries to fit a massive story into too small a package and in doing so loses much of the book's charm and terror.
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