johnlink ranks HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007)

Here we are, back to the Harry Potter series with film number five. This is the last film in the series which I had not previously ranked, so the next three here in the following month or so will be re-rankings (like you care). Also, ORDER OF THE PHOENIX is the first of those which I have not seen since theaters. The first four I had seen multiple times, but starting with the fifth I just hadn’t caught them since opening day (this one I remember seeing in a theater in LA, at the morning show, with Liz, and tons of young kids. It was actually a thoroughly enjoyable way to see it!).

I watched HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007) on 2.20.12. It was my second viewing of the film.

Part of the reason I wanted to revisit this entire series was because I had a hard time picking a favorite. I am going to hold judgment until I get a chance to catch up on the last three again, but as of right now I can easily say that ORDER OF THE PHOENIX is the best of the first five.

David Yates takes over the series as director in this one, and he is the guy who will run the show the rest of the way. Picking a single director to finish up the last three books is very smart, just as letting Chris Columbus do the first two to get some momentum going was very smart.

Yates makes an impact from the very first scene. These kids are clearly young adults now, and the world is growing ever darker and more dangerous. Harry has entered a stage of adolescent rebellion, which is not helped by the fact that he is both a celebrity and a lightning rod within the wizarding community. Some believe that he fought off the Dark Lord upon the evil one’s return, while others consider him a liar and potentially responsible for Cedric’s death.

This is the best in the series, to me, because Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) is the best villain yet. As the new de facto headmaster at Hogwarts, she is not the most violent, though she is certainly cruel. She is not the most intimidating physically. Instead, she has the backing of the ministry of magic, and she has full reign to do what she will to the kids. The cat-and-mouse game played by Staunton and the students is so much fun to watch, and it really allows Harry to come across as a strong (if not the most willing) leader. Several montage scenes make this film just drive forward. The first is the sign posting montage, as Dolores works to correct perceived lax rules at the school. Next is the montage of Harry training fellow students in the secret room as Dolores and her cronies try to find the location of it.

But the heart of this movie is very real. Harry falls for a girl and then feels betrayed. Harry fights off immature impulses to take out his frustrations on his friends, who continue to stand by him. Through this entire series, the movies get the friendships right. Hermione, Ron, and Harry (and the other kids as well) get in petty spats, treat each other like garbage at times, and ultimately all come back around together. Reminds me of high school.

The defeat of Umbridge is rewarding enough to make this a great movie, and it is then followed by the best action scene in the series thus far.  Harry and his friends go to retrieve his prophecy, and that climactic battle between two teams of good and evil is complex, detailed, and scary.

I really like the change in relationship between Harry and Dumbledore as well. Dumbledore is trying to protect Harry by keeping his distance, but Harry can’t process that and is feeling more isolated, which fuels his frustrations further. While I don’t think the writing always processed exactly how angry Harry supposedly says he was, there is enough there to make it work (and if you do it too much, then you become the third Spider Man movie: an overly emo mess).

There is also a change in the visual. The depth of field in this one grows so much, which is especially observable in the ministry of magic scenes. Just beautifully lit and rendered. I’ve been rewatching all of these on Blu Ray, and this is easily the best looking one so far. I’m sure the budgets continued to increase and special effects improved, so I don’t lay that at the feet of previous directors, but rather give Yates credit for wrangling it all together to put forward his vision.

I’ve got three to go. I know I liked seven better than eight, so there is still a chance five doesn’t turn out to be my favorite as I compare them all more closely than I had before. But it is going to be hard to beat! 

SCORES

FILM: 7; MOVIE: 10; ACTING: 8; WRITING: 7; BONUS: 1

The bonus is for the cinematography. Simply beautiful. I love the shot as they fly over the water through England. Best visual in the series thus far.

7+10+8+7+1=33

FINAL SCORE: 8.25

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~ by johnlink00 on February 21, 2012.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007)”

  1. […] HP5 link here […]

  2. […] in A FEW GOOD MEN, a great cat-and-mouse story CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, the best of the series in HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, and an unexpectedly solid suspense film THE NEXT THREE […]

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