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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For starters, I think it's safe to say that I view Phoenix as the best of Potter's lot at this stage of the game, and it's the best movie that I've seen this year (but in fairness, I missed the big sweaty men movie, 300). That the Potter series has been consistently good is great, that it has consistently gotten better is fantastic. This is also the first movie in which I really identified with Harry, and the first that I viewed as more than just a kiddy-flick.
For those that don't know, Harry (talented Daniel Radcliffe) enters his fifth year at Hogwart's along with friends and allies-to-be Ron Weasley (ginger-kid Rupert Grint) and Hermoine Granger (the new hotness that is Emma Watson). Along for the ride are a baker's dozen of fellow students, mostly recognizable from moments and bits from the previous films. Also present, making smaller appearances than previous Pot-flicks, are a host of who's who of English actors and actresses.
The returning cast members that either were featured more prominently in the past or will be featured more so in the future, even those with little to do but show up and say hello, are noticed and greatly appreciated, giving the series a continuity not seen on the silver screen outside Lord of the Rings. The story largely stays with the children, however, and so does the camera thankfully, as this is where the change, and hence the action, is happening.
No more the boy that smiles at the wonder of magical widgets in the halls of Hogwarts, Harry is hip-deep in the sh*t that is becoming an adult. Worse than that, none of his friends are on par with Harry, having not witnessed the death of their fellow student (at the end of Goblet of Fire) and rebirth of legitimate evil badass Lord Voldemorte who is, thankfully, living up to his billing. Harry's disconnect with those that think themselves his peers is similar to a person that has seen the uglier side of war and humanity and has had to grow thicker skin faster than the others. They want to understand him but they simply can't.
As if this isn't enough for Harry to deal with, he is being expected to fend off the Dark Lord's mental trespasses, lead and army of child warriors into the belly of the beast, and learns that life is more complex than he thought when he uncovers an ugly truth about who his father really was.
This truth, brought to light in a moment of another's pain, another that Harry had written off as an insufferable bastard, shatters the image, as we all have that image shattered once upon a time, of the perfection that is our parents. Harry learns this later in life than most, as his parents' death had allowed him to mythologize them into perfect beings, so the impact is even greater than it would normally be.
I can't imagine a coming of age story that more accurately captures the emotion of this age (on magical steroids, of course) - the anger, confusion, the desire to be at the steering wheel of your own life, even if that means going over the cliff with Christian yodeling belting from the car stereo.
The Phoenix represents the death of something old and the birth of something new. I think it's exactly what the Potter movies just did, and for the first time I can say that I might have to hit the midnight showing of Potter next time amidst the weirdos, witches, and wizards, because I can wait to see what - and how it - will happen next.
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