Aside from IMAX 3D, there's not much cinematic magic in fifth film

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

on July 13, 2007 by Chad Greene
Print
The Order of the Phoenix is named for the mythological firebird that bursts into flame every 500 years or so, only to be reborn from its own ashes. Anyone expecting a rebirth of the Harry Potter film franchise in its fifth installment, however, will find a disappointing dearth of cinematic magic in the first of J.K. Rowling's novels not adapted for the screen by Steve Kloves.

Working from a script by Michael Goldenberg ( Peter Pan ), director David Yates (TV's State of Play ) opens with a phoenix's-eye aerial of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) sitting listlessly on a playground so drought-dry that the brown grass does, indeed, appear ready to spontaneously combust. The arrival of trouble, however, is ironically heralded by a gathering of storm clouds—and a chilling of breath—that precedes an attack by the demonic Dementors, first glimpsed in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban .

When Harry saves himself by performing the powerful Patronus Charm, he is threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy), who is determined to discredit his accounts of the return of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes)—to the point of planting articles with libelous headlines such as “The Boy Who Lied” (a play on Harry's wizarding-world reputation as “The Boy Who Lived”) in the Daily Prophet.

This Fudge-ing of the facts is so effective that, after winning readmission to Hogwarts, Harry finds even his fellow Gryffindors dubious of his account of Voldemort's role in the murder of another student at end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire . Understandably upset, Harry responds by isolating himself behind a wall of withering adolescent insolence.

But when the Minister for Magic appoints his senior undersecretary Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton, limning a delightfully delicate balance between prickly prissiness and flat-out fascism) as the new defense against the dark arts professor, Harry emerges from his funk—in a sequence of scenes that brings to mind the John Steinbeck line about how “a boy gets to be a man when a man is needed”—after close companions Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) convince him to clandestinely train a cadre of students christened “Dumbledore's Army” to defend themselves against Voldemort and his Death Eaters.

While the darkening tone of the tale is encapsulated early on in Mad-Eye Moody's (Brendan Gleeson) matter-of-fact order to “not break ranks if one of us is killed,” before the thrilling cinematic spectacle of a broomstick brigade soaring over the River Thames, there's too much of that kind of worry and not enough of that kind of wonder onscreen for Phoenix to truly take flight.

And, as with all the previous films in the franchise, the filmmakers are also saddled with the impossible task of adapting Rowling's ever-thicker tomes without sacrificing much of their charm, especially the author's careful development of such secondary yet colorful characters such as Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena).

Those truly enchanted with Harry Potter should seriously consider catching The Order of the Phoenix in IMAX 3D, which injects some sorely needed cinematic magic into such scenes as a thrilling thestral charge toward the Ministry of Magic and a climactic confrontation between Headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Lord Voldemort.
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter and Robert Hardy
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: Michael Goldenberg
Producers: David Heyman and David Barron
Genre: Fantasy adventure
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images
Running time: 138 min.
Release date: July 11, 2007
Tags: No Tags
Print

read all Reviews »


0 Comments

No comments were posted.

What do you think?