Taking us past the halfway point in the films, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix also heads farther into the darker fantasy that dominates the last half of the overall story. Harry is made aware of the Order of the Phoenix, a secret organization created to oppose Voldemort. He also forms a group at school to teach interested students how to defend themselves since Professor Umbridge refuses to allow the students anything but theoretical learning.
This was one of my favorite of the Harry Potter films. In this film, the story became more focused and steadily paced than in previous films. I loved the world building and just plain fun elements found in the first four films. However, they also sometimes tended to make the pacing a bit uneven in those films.
One of my favorite characters from the books was introduced in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Luna Lovegood. There were apparently thousands of actresses hoping to get this role. I think the producers and director caught the golden snitch in casting Evanna Lynch in the role. She fit into the character so perfectly, I honestly can’t think of anyone else playing the role.
Related to Luna, I really loved the design of the kestrals. I think these creature effects were among the best in the entire series. The scene at the beginning, and then the scene later on in the forest, were both handled very well. They conveyed a lot of important information as the series began its move toward the ultimate climax.
I loved how the sickeningly cute “doting weird aunt” vibe of Umbridge was contrasted with her sinister and truly evil inside. Imelda Staunton really showed how much Umbridge thought (or at least thoroughly convinced herself) she was doing the right thing. At the same time, it showed just how horribly wrong someone like that can be. I cringe (in a good way!) every time I see her scenes in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
We had previously seen the Ministry of Magic in the fourth film, and I really loved the set design for it. The shiny black tiles were perfect for reflecting light in creepy ways, giving the whole place a feeling of infinity. The design for the Department of Mysteries was excellent, with the storage room stretching off into the dark and foggy distance in all directions. One of my favorite scenes was the wizard battle between Dumbledore’s Army and the Death Eaters. The climax was very satisfying, but also sad at the same time.
I enjoy Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix thoroughly every time I see it, and I look forward to watching it many times in the future. It may be a bit much for younger fans of the books, though they can certainly grown into it. I highly recommend it!
Release Date: July 11, 2007 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (occasional wine)
Language: 1 (mild, mostly Ron)
Violence: 3 (scary imagery, wizard battles, torture, death)