Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix was the last book in the series that I read. I didn’t read the next ones, because they came out after my initial disappointment with the film version of Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban and as a result, my interest in the franchise was lowering. This also meant that I avoided The Order Of The Phoenix when the film version was released. However, I soon caught a viewing of it on ITV and it didn’t give me a good impression first time round. But then I saw it a couple more times and… let’s look at the story.
It begins with Harry and his cousin Dudley getting ambushed by dementors, after Dudley’s been taunting Harry, which leads to Harry having no choice, but to use magic as an act of defence. As a result, Harry gets expelled from Hogwarts,… okay, but luckily, his friends and ex-teachers do their best to seek justice throughout. Although Harry does get his position back, the trust lacks and worse to come, an authoritarian bureaucrat takes over as Defence Against The Dark Arts Teacher and seizes control of the school.
When I first saw the movie, I just caught sight of it on ITV and I had no interest in watching the movie in the first place due to my disappointment with the previous movie. The first scene I caught sight of was during the aftermath of Harry’s near…-expelling experience when he was involved in an argument with his fellow Gryffindor housemates, especially Seamus, which I didn’t find much interesting. Maybe if it was the scenes that involved Snape, I probably would’ve stayed glued to the screen, or clearly, I should’ve thought about watching the film from the beginning. However, I saw the film again and it was a little better than I remembered it. It has in fact improved compared to The Goblet Of Fire. There are still flaws though.
Let’s look at the good stuff. Firstly, you’ll notice that the Dursleys have returned to the series. They’re always a pleasure to watch. This was one of the things the previous film missed. I bet that if my mom was seeing the part where Harry and Dudley are running for their lives, she’d be thinking “Dudley’s way too fat to keep up with Harry”. Then when Harry receives news on his suspension from Hogwarts school (which I’ll discuss later), look at Vernon’s grinning expression when he says “justice!” That really cracks me up. Another great thing about the film is how we find out Snape’s motives for badmouthing Harry’s dad (again to be discussed later). Yeah I know, but Snape is truly my favourite character in the series.
While I wrote my review on The Goblet Of Fire, I forgot to mention Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius Black’s cousin and Draco Malfoy’s aunt. She was another thing the book included, but the film neglected. She makes her very first appearance in the film version of The Order Of The Phoenix and boy, does she kick butt. Bellatrix is a truly loyal hench-woman to Voldemort. She’s aggressive, she’s fiesty, she stops at nothing, she’s a lot you want in a death eater.
I suppose I should also mention Professor Dolores Umbridge. All the previous four Defence Against The Dark Arts teachers was blokes; Quirrell, Lockhart, Lupin, Moody, so it was quite good to have a woman take over as teacher of the subject. Umbridge is who you’d describe as the Margaret Thatcher of Defence Against The Dark Arts. Being that Maggie was the first woman to rule as UK Prime Minister, but was also a member of the dodgy conservative party, it’s easy to compare her to Umbridge. If you think about it, Umbridge is the first and only woman to teach DATDA, as far as we all know (there may have been some women before/after her, but that would’ve been way before the main setting of The Philosopher’s Stone and/or after the main setting of the Deathly Hallows). She also is an untrustworthy teacher. My main nitpick with Umbridge is her ridiculously high-pitched voice. It’s enough to hurt the viewers’ ears and the way she giggles, it reminds me of each time I listen to Elaine Page on one of the BBC Radio stations (eek). Why couldn’t Imelda Staunton have used her normal voice or at least used a similar voice to the one she used when she voiced Bunty in Chicken Run. Her squeaks are as unrealistic as Christian Bale’s growls when he played Batman. No offence Christian. Other than that, fine character. I was also in favour of the bit where Umbridge attempted to fire Professor Trelawney, because man, I can’t stand that woman!
Now where does it go wrong? Although I like this film better than The Goblet Of Fire, I do feel certain plot elements fall flat. Firstly, though I was in favour of seeing the Dusleys again, I didn’t like the bit where Harry gets expelled. It had very little to do with the whole film and it’s like; “is the film over already? It’s only been like five to ten minutes.” Also in regards to the scene, Petunia originally stated that she knows of the Dementors and surprises her husband, son and even her nephew by admitting so when she listened in a conversation between her sister and “that awful boy”. The next moment, she notices an angry letter to Harry and recognises it as a howler, therefore rethinking her plan to banish Harry from the house. This is not included in the film which would’ve been a pity, because I kinda wanted to see at least one of Harry’s muggle-relatives demonstrating a bit of an understanding to the magical world and it would’ve created a bit more conflict to the story. With that said though, the film adaptation to The Order Of The Phoenix doesn’t neglect as much of the highlights from the book as the film adaptation to The Goblet Of Fire does. I was quite glad they got rid of the bit where Hermione has a conversation about centaurs; “I’ve never liked horses” to which I think it’s Ron that says “it’s a centaur” and Hermione defensively replies “it still has four legs”; big talk from a democratic intellectual!
Another nit-pick I have with the movie is that when Moody, Lupin and Tonks of the Order Of The Phoenix meet Harry, they’re clearly in the Muggle-world and they’re riding on broomsticks. Wouldn’t they have been caught out by the muggles in a busy city? And ain’t one of the policies ‘don’t do magic in front of muggles’? I know they’re trying to help Harry with justice, but I think they should’ve used flu powder or some other teleportation device/magic trick. I’m just thinking of continuity.
Then we have Dumbledore, who is kind of as bad as he was in the previous film. He’s supposed to be a mentor to Harry, much like Gandalf from Lord Of The Rings and/or Merlin from The Sword In The Stone, not because of his large beard. He, like Harry, is aware of Voldemort’s return and struggles to receive belief from the public, but the rather disturbing thing about him is that he’s constantly distancing himself from Harry. He does eventually explain to him why after Sirius’ tragic killing by Bellatrix, the reason being that Dumbledore hoped Harry would be less vulnerable to Voldemort using their connection. This movie could’ve been more careful.
Rip-offs; well that’s easy. First we see in The Prisoner Of Azkaban that Harry has developed a “you won’t like me when I’m angry” persona, just like The Incredible Hulk. Now in this one, he has some sixth sense which specializes in mind reading for the Death Eaters. Does that ring a bell to fans of Captain Scarlet?
Best scene; Snape attempts to teach Harry to block Voldemort from his mind. This is where we discover why Snape loathed James Potter so much. He knows that Harry has now developed a Captain Scarlet-style persona, but Harry is struggling to block Voldemort from his mind, which leads to Snape to insult Harry’s dad; “You’re just like your farther, lazy, arrogant,…!”. Harry warns him “Don’t say a word against my father”. We understand why Harry would want to defend his father, because despite the fact that James Potter died too soon for Harry to know him well enough, he is his family and Harry doesn’t reckon he’s that bad. Though we do emphathise with Snape too considering that his past with James haunts him so much that he’s quite afraid to give too much detail. We do see why as soon as Harry casts a spell which reads Snape’s flashbacks; he was bullied by James and Sirius when they was students at Hogwarts. It’s no wonder Snape hated James so much, though I have a feeling that James was just having a bit of fun and didn’t intend to cause any nastiness, but Snape didn’t take it too positively. On the other hand, we can empathise with the former bullied victim and the trauma one goes through, because of his/her experiences being bullied.
Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix does make a larger and more improved difference to The Goblet Of Fire, though to be fair, it’s still one of the weaker films. It’s not as strong as the first three films. There’s one more worse film than The Order Of The Phoenix, but we’ll get to that one later.
Overall Rating: 4/10
Next review: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince