Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


Dir: David Yates (The Tichborne Claimant)
Regular Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis
Additional Cast: Imelda Staunton, Evanna Lynch, Gary Oldman, Bonnie Wright, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, David Thewlis, Helena Bonham Carter, George Harris, Natalia Tena, Ralph Fiennes
UK/USA, 2007

Originally Seen: July 15, 2007 at Scotiabank, just one day Movie Moxie site went live

Revisited: July 6, 2009 *

It's wild to think that this 5th film in the Harry Potter series was released 2 whole years ago. We've been waiting 2 years people! And in all that time I haven't reviewed it until now. I did go and find my original notes from the first viewing, which consist of offhand comments like "everyone wears stripes" or "so-and-so looks different/weird" or "evil woman is awesome". Last comment works for more than one character. But, out of all of the films this was the only one (so far) where I noticed things changed in the book to film translation, or I had looked forward to seeing certain scenes and characters only to find them completely omitted. But it's a mammoth book at 870 pages in trade paperback which was condensed to a 2 hr 18 min film which I'm sure is a challenge.

Right off the bat we see that the film has a different tone than the rest of the series, starting instead of in a world that feels warm to a land that is hot, dry and dangerous. Safe havens are few and far between as the world of muggles and magic start to blend together. With this film we are introduced to a new director, David Yates who takes and will keep this role for the remainder of the films. Although as a whole the film reverts back to patterns that were established in the first three films with starting location, introductions to new and stronger magics, new locations and transportation methods we also see changes to the look and feel of the creatures and/or effects established in previous films. A bizarre choice there, and both new choices were less effective but on the bright side I think we can expect consistency from here on in.

Set in Year 5 of Hogwarts for Harry, Hermione & Ron and the trio are now 15 years old, but the film brings a focus to a broader age range of students together. This is mirrored in the adult world by continuing to highlight Dumbledore's inclusive and trusting nature to witches and wizards of different levels of skill and aptitude. It's one of the things I appreciate most about his character and the films in general, that everyone has a place, a right and way that they can help to make a valuable contribution to the greater cause. This is present in the other films but is very clear in The Order of the Phoenix and shows the differences between the dark wizards who crave purebloods for alliances and have little patience or tolerance for anything but perfection. The themes of the film centre on rules, obedience, rigidity as well as trust, belief and as always friendship. I think it is brilliant how they work in the concept of learning theoratecally in a safe environment versus real life learning involving real risk. This is a conversation I find I'm continually with friends who are parents, but as I'm a PNT'er (pets not kids) they don't always take my opinion on real life risk to heart. The contrasts in the film are effectively projected by using multiple colour stories of warm and cool colours that began in The Goblet of Fire and are again prominent here and represent the choice between good and bad.

The trio certainly has many trials and tribulations in this film and it becomes quite the emotional roller coaster for Harry in particular. Even though we see many serious issues arise and danger is everywhere, there is an air of lightness and humour folded seamlessly into the film often giving a chance see more of the secondary characters such as Fred & George Weasley. The music plays on this very well, giving us welcome tonal shifts to ease the pain when it becomes so very dark.

Whether good or bad, the women of this film shine. Any reservations about gender imbalance that cropped up in The Goblet of Fire are easily quashed here as The Order of the Phoenix as we are introduced a trio of fantastic women: the new and decadently cutesy evil Dolorus Umbridge played by Imelda Staunton, the powerful dark witch Bellatrix Lestrange played by Helena Bonham Carter and oddball but genuinely kind and calm Luna Lovegood played by Evanna Lynch. Plus, Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) continues to become more powerful and prominent as a secondary character. The women truly come to light in this film in a spectacular way.

Overall it was really fun to revisit it and I'm still surprized it landed 4th place on the Poll for the Best Harry Potter film (so far). But the best news is that this means we are only 1 week away from the newest film The Half-Blood Prince to be released. I can't wait!

Shannon's Overall View:
I love it
I own it - in widescreen!
I'd recommend it to fans of magic, fantasy and adventure

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© Shannon Ridler, 2009

* in anticipation of the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Wednesday July 15, 2009, I am doing a weekly countdown to watch & review of the first five Harry Potter films


Suzie the Foodie said...

Love, love, love this review MM. My head is spinning with thoughts and memories of this movie, how it differs from the rest and truly the issue of safety and learning to stand up for yourself sang for me in this one too. I feel very strongly about kids standing up for themselves and not being sheltered from reality too but then, I'm not a parent either. And I don't even have a cat! And you are absolutely right, the women in this one totally did rock.

Now you got me even more excited to see the next movie!

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Thanks so much Suzie! This one really has a different vibe to it but still feels like the same world which is quite a feat. Standing up for yourself and not being sheltered are huge theme in there as well.

Only 1 more week til the new one :)

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