Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Director: David Yates
Running Time: 138 mins
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix is an American film and the fifth in the Harry Potter series. As the Ministry of Magic continues to discredit Harry and Dumbledore’s insistence of the threat of Voldemort, a strict new member of staff arrives at Hogwarts with a series of reforms that leads a group of students to rebel.
Just as I had begun to lose faith in this franchise after the disappointing Goblet Of Fire, I’m delighted to say that The Order Of The Phoenix returns Harry Potter to right where it should be. Doing away with the moody teen angst of the previous film, and restoring a lot more humour and joy, yet still managing to pull off some intriguing and tense drama, this is a great instalment in the series, and one you’ll be almost fully engrossed in from start to finish.
There are a lot of things that I think this film does very well, particularly in comparison to The Prisoner Of Azkaban and The Goblet Of Fire, and the one thing that really stands out is David Yates’ directing. Managing to find a comfortable style almost immediately, by mixing bright, light-hearted fantasy brilliantly with the growing maturity and darkness of the series’ arc, Yates puts a fantastic mark on this series, and gives this film at least a confident and consistent atmosphere throughout, a huge improvement over the two post-Columbus films.
This is still by no means as joyful and care-free as Columbus’ Spielberg-esque Philosopher’s Stone, but it shouldn’t be. The story has evolved hugely since the first film, and Yates does the best job at reflecting that. We’re still in the wizarding world, and that means there has to be a degree of light-heartedness (I laughed and smiled more here than in the two previous films combined), but there are important developments with regards to Harry’s battle against Voldemort and other forces around him, so the serious parts of the movie are necessary too.
What’s really interesting about this movie in particular is how it shows a dramatic evolution in just over two hours. There are no real pacing problems here (save for one or two frustrating sequences), and there’s a fascinating visual change throughout too. Starting off bathed in light and colour, The Order Of The Phoenix becomes visually darker and gloomier as it progresses, and it’s an ingenious way to show the growing tension and drama throughout the movie – the first effective use of dark imagery in the whole series.
The story beats here are very good too. Whilst there are still quite a few now-overplayed clichés, this edition of the series provides far more intrigue and excitement than anything before. Whilst we’ve got the wider context of the imminent threat of Voldemort, the majority of the movie focusses on Harry and his friends uniting to stop a strict new teacher at Hogwarts from ruining the school and their lives.
For once, it really feels like there’s something going on all the time, and whilst we’re still building towards a generic boss fight towards the end, the journey watching Harry back together with his friends (after The Goblet Of Fire showed him in a far too isolated light) is both fun and engaging, and that makes the entire film so much more enjoyable.
On the whole, I was very impressed by The Order Of The Phoenix. There are still similar issues that have run throughout the entire series, and I’m still yet to be more enchanted than by The Philosopher’s Stone, however director David Yates’ fantastic blending of light and dark in this film, both in storytelling and visual style, is a significant step forward in this series. The lead actors impress once again, and seeing them in a far more upbeat and united light makes for a far more entertaining watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving this a 7.6.