[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B007N0IJGC][/pullquote] Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is fifth instalment in the franchise, based on the longest book in the series, this is one of the shortest films. Clocking in at just over 2 hours, a vast majority of the source material is cut in order to make the film zip along at a fast pace, and remain exciting throughout rather than rushed. David Yates takes control of direction and remains behind the camera from this point to the end of the series. He takes a lot of the darker elements introduced by Mike Newell, but gives the plot a better sense of cohesion without a need to have read the books.
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is haunted by the death of classmate Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) at the hands of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and keeps experiencing flashes of vision from the dark lord as his scar hurts more and more. After a dementor attack he discovers that the Ministry do not believe his story and forcibly install Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), an authoritarian beaurocrat at Hogwarts, whilst Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) seems to be ignoring the boy wizard.
The series continues to get darker, with the Order of the Phoenix boasting more threat and fear, and large elements of the whimsy from the earlier instalments all removed. Also gone are the ridiculous haircuts of the main trio of actors, as well as a lot of their flaws. Harry is now believable as a slightly tortured hero, Ron (Rupert Grint) continues to be the best of the three as he becomes more and more comfortable in the role. Hermione (Emma Watson) overcomes her seeming complete collapse in the previous film to finally have the confidence to do her character justice.
New to the franchise in Order of the Phoenix are Imelda Staunton and Helena Bonham-Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange). Both are revalations in their respective roles and seem to take great joy in playing both ends of the mentally unstable spectrum. There are extended parts for Matthew Lewis, who slowly wins over the audience as loveable loser Neville Longbottom. Also new-comer Evanna Lynch impresses as weird, wacky, but ultimately endearing Ravenclaw, Luna Lovegood. There continues to be huge problem with Michael Gambon’s casting, as he continues to be loud, aggressive and far too authoritarian for his character.
While the book of Order of the Phoenix has long periods of detention and general inactivity, the majority of these moments are cut, and cleverly replaced with a series of newspaper articles and montages. This gives the film-makers more time recreate the fist-pumping moments from the books. Unfortunately they botch these moments time and again, with the Weasley twins departure, Dumbledore’s flight from Hogwarts and the final showdown all done with so much CG and Gambon’s fumbling of his big lines mishandled mean that the real magic is lost time and again. At least the darker mood suits the odd magic realism of the source material and at no points do you feel that the action is dragging.
The main characters finally seem to be growing up into their roles, with good schoolyard banter and handle the sometimes difficult romantic scenes just uncomfortably enough to be convincing.