Harry Potter does the same kind of business for the same level of fans. Theatres sell out and books fly off the shelves. However, this is a mythos based on a series of children's book printed and distributed by a company best known for publishing educational material for schools starring a kid with a name that sounds like the Colonel from M*A*S*H met the actor who played him and features intentionally comical names and places. And at the time of this writing, we've just barely passed the Ten Year Mark since the Mythos originally hit shelves. That's a lot of fandom a lot of fast and it's not just the kids. Adults can't get enough of the boy wizard either. Sheesh!
But is it well deserved? Well, considering the fact that the millions of Harry Potter Fans out there can count me amongst their ranks... I'd say so. This is no flash in the pan, no cash in, no goofy flavor of the month. This is popular because it's good!
The theatrical version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is no exception to that rule. This one is action packed and exciting with a rousing score (by Nicholas Hooper, with some repeated themes from John Williams' prequel work), a deep mystery, big surprises and some very fine acting (from more recognizable actors than in the entire cast of Pret A Porter)!
It's also a serious film with some very dark themes and a real sense of danger, loss and betrayal. It can tug at the heart strings and widen the eyes. It's also, in places, quite horrific to watch and probably not one to bring the littler kids to. For the bigger kids... well, read on.
When we last saw 'Arry (in Goblet of Fire) his arch nemesis (he who must not be named) had finally grown a pair (and the rest of his body too) and had shown up just in time to hork up the Tri-Wizard Tournament and commit jockicide against poor old Cedric (the entertainer) Diggory (Robert Pattinson). Now that's darn rude.
Harry (who isn't called "The Boy Who Lived" just for the hell of it) has warned tout le monde about the Difficult Times that Lay Ahead. Like just about any good deed done with good intentions and a noble heart, this one is punished. Upon learning that the Dark Lord hath returned, naturally the entire wizarding world, especially the press and the Ministry of Magic goes about doing what those with the most at stake might do... they deny everything and discredit the spell out of both Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).
With their reputations laid flatter than the rumor that this site is funny, H-Po and D-Do have their hands full with defending Harry against a tribunal of nasty Ministerial Magicians all before school kicks in and Harry has to deal with a destroyed rep, Magical Ministers who hate him, a Dark Lord of the Pith who wants to kill him and Trig Class. Thank Good Magic for friends like Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), not to mention the entire gosh darned Order of the Phoenix, sort of a Knights of Columbus for the Anti-Tom Riddle crowd.
The good news is that Gary Oldman is seriously back as Sirius Black. The better news is that so is Black's cousin Bellatrix Lestrange. Okay, okay, Bellatrix is evil. It's good news because Helena Bonham Carter is HOT!!! Sizzling. You know how old Sirius can project his face into a fireplace and speak to Harry through the flames? SHE'S HOTTER!!! Goth Hot. Yum. They should make a whole movie about her and... uh... okay... Family Movie Review.
Essentially the gang's all here (too numerous for me to fit into the prose and not make it sound ridiculous), plus a few new entries like Evanna Lynch's "Looney" Luna Lovegood and Imelda Staunton's Dolores Umbridge.
Sadly, with the idiotic rule of aptly named Ministry Mogul Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy), the oblivious Ministry of Magic is stretching its Aschroftian Fingers into every nook and cranny of Hogwarts... including, but not limited to the more annoying than frightening rule of Umbridge herself (actually she does scare the wand out of me). And that's whether Snape (Alan Rickman) likes it or not. Not that... we can tell... with Snape.
It all leads up to one incredible battle between the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix themselves. And man is that one ever incredible. By the time old Darth Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) shows up we've already seen more epic special effects than you could shake a stack of Pat Boone records at.
The main problem with Harry Potter 5 is that it's clear that there's a heck of of story from the J.K. Rowling novel missing from the Michael Goldenberg screenplay, even if you haven't read the book. That's not to say it's disjointed, but where a subplot is no longer needed, it's dispensed with. Where connective material would be helpful, we get a leap. Where continuity would be nice, we get more magic.
But Magic it is and director David Yates does a good job of keeping the film flowing and exciting, taking advantage of the plethora of good actors and great effects. It's not until after the adrenaline wears off that the Swiss shows up in the Cheese.
All in all, this is a very cool film with a lot of rear-booting scenes worth watching until the clowns come home. Man, that one battle scene... Whoa. If Rowling isn't a LITTLE bit of a Star Wars fan, Yates sure must be. See it. I'd love to dis it... but I can't, man. Cool film, worth Four Stars out of Five. Man, but those kids are growing up fast. When's Hermione legal? Okay, okay, okay, I'll just read The Deathly Hallows and find out. Until then, I'll see you in the next Hallowed Goblet of Half-Blood, Secretly Ordered Imprisoned Philosopher's Reel.
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