HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENX
 

Directed by David Yates. US/UK. 2007.


Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk
 
 


 
 

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The fifth HP film starts the summer after the events of ‘The Goblet of Fire’ where the Lord Voldemort returned and killed Cedric in front of Harry.  With no contact from his friends and being targeted by the wizard authorities this film is intent on showing Harry as a teenager who is both withdrawn and sometimes alone, feelings all teenagers go through at one point or another. 

This Potter is possibly the darkest film of the series, because Harry is growing up and life is getting more complicated by day-to-day occurrences and not just the power of his heritage and the expectation being heaped upon him.  What is also more apparent is that Lord Voldemort is not finished with Harry yet and there is a strong connection between the two. 

David Yates, the British director of both ‘State of Play’ and ‘The Girl in the Café’, has been given the task of directing the longest novel in the series.  This is possibly because there is so much backstory and narrative needed to be conveyed on screen, but Yates achieves this filming in a breezy fashion movement always occurring on screen pushing the narrative forward with an awareness of both situation and direction of the plot.   

Like any films in an extended series you have the introduction of new characters and this is no exception with the Chief Inquisitor, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) embodying the totalitarian and PC brigade in garish pink. Her appearances always bring a freshness to the sombre surroundings, an unpopular teacher in the mould of Jeffrey Jones in ‘Ferris Bueller’.  The cast are all brilliant and the children who have all grown up on screen are getting better with each film, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint especially.  Also the introduction of Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood is refreshing, a natural to proceedings - who again in the sometimes wooden scenes involving Daniel Radcliffe - her sense of detachment sometimes makes you remember this is fantasy and should not be taken so seriously, or as seriously as Radcliffe would have you want to believe in his performance. 

There are some brilliant set pieces involving such things as Dementors and the final battle near the ministry involving all the main players reminds me of the zest of the battle in ‘Return of the Jedi’ and gung-ho spirit of war films.  The film sets this up as a battle between good and evil, we have two more films to come and it is not yet clear whether Harry will be able to resist the urge of Voldemort’s grasp but Yates’ direction puts it in safe hands.  The fact that he has been signed up for ‘The Half-Blood Prince’ shows you what the producers think. 

Fans of the book will admire the tidiness of it and film fans will love the fact that it is the shortest film of the five so far.  Go to see it because you should do, but appreciate that you can get such good performances from Rickman, Smith, Oldman, Gambon, Thewlis; all could so easily sleep-walk through their roles but they are all enjoying their roles with an abandon that will whisk you off on another adventure.

Jamie Garwood
 
 
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