[Game Review]Harry Potter 5 keeps the franchise aliveI have a confession: Before “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” I refused to see any of the movies or read any of the books in the series.
Something about the wildly popular collection ― their generally creepy aura, the number of young adult men who are hot for Hermione, or maybe even the fact that my little sister adored all things Harry ― completely repelled me.
But after seeing “Order of the Phoenix,” I have to admit the Harry hype is well-deserved.
The fifth installment of the series opens with young wizard Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) home with his family for a stagnant, magic-free summer. Out of nowhere, in swoop a duo of soul-sucking demonic ghouls who attack Harry and his cousin.
To save himself and his cousin, Harry whips out a spell, only to be expelled from Hogwarts (the school for wizardry that he attends) for underage sorcery in front of a Muggle (the wizard word for us non-magical beings).
And here’s where things really get fanciful. A bevy of mentors from Hogwarts whisks Harry off to reunite him with friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). In a London boardinghouse known as the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, a group of wizards who once sought to prevent the reign of villainous Lord Voldemort, Harry prepares to appeal his expulsion at the Ministry of Magic, the official governing body of all things magical.
With the assistance of strangely distant Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), headmaster of Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic overturns Harry’s expulsion, allowing him to enter his fifth year at the school.
Yet despite this triumph, Harry’s struggles are far from over. With his archenemy Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) still at large, Harry finds himself haunted by vivid, terrifying nightmares and an inexplicable quiet rage that increasingly alienates him from the majority of his peers at Hogwarts and his closest friends.
To make matters worse, the Ministry of Magic tightens its control over joyously lax Hogwarts with an implanted stooge, new Defense Against Dark Magic professor, Dolores Umbridge, played irritatingly well by Imelda Staunton.
Umbridge, a frumpy, killjoy version of “Legally Blonde’s” Elle Woods, is unsettlingly perky as she gradually wrests control of Hogwarts. Adhering to ministry policy, Umbridge denies any threat of Voldemort’s return despite all signs of an increasingly imminent attack and refuses to teach her students any useful skills in magical combat.
Harry, convinced that Voldemort will strike, covertly assembles a band of rebellious students who dub themselves “Dumbledore’s Army.” Under Harry’s tutelage, Dumbledore’s Army begins to prepare for battle.
Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg’s adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s novel manages to swiftly and logically progress through Harry’s struggles, a rarity for most children’s movies.
But then again, considering the film’s gloomy air and unsettling violence, it’s hardly just a kids’ movie, although director David Yates handles blood and death appropriately for younger audiences.
Paralleling the maturation of the actors themselves, “Order of the Phoenix” addresses several themes: Harry finds himself in his first romantic encounter, Hermione is mature enough to provide thoughtful psychoanalysis of her peers and Dumbledore’s Army experiences the dark dangers of the real world firsthand. In this sense, Harry’s story is universal enough for anyone.
Especially exciting in Order of the Phoenix is the talent in the cast. The young stars are impressive in their roles.
The names that pepper the adult cast ― Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes (who, as Voldemort, manages to completely smother his good looks with a ghastly makeup job) ― announce the Harry Potter franchise as anundeniably legitimate cinematic achievement. Special effects dovetail nicely into the breathtaking cinematography.
Longtime devotees of Harry Potter won’t be disappointed. With tense action, bewitching performances and a healthy dose of magic, this one’s got it all.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Fantasy / English
138 min. Now playing
By Hannah Bae Staff Writer [email@example.com]