We’re more than half way through! The fifth (out of eight) film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) was directed by David Yates, who would remain at the helm until the end of the saga (unfortunately, let me add). And there’s also a new screenwriter, Michael Goldenberg, because the usual Steven Kloves was working on another project. I think that these changes didn’t do any good to the cinematic saga, and this movie is certainly the worst so far. I will always maintain that Chris Columbus had done an excellent job with both the philosopher’s stone and the chamber of secrets (although the World would be a better place if Warner Bros. had accepted the request by J.K. Rowling to call Terry Gilliam to direct the first movie!!!); Cuarón made a great third movie with his prisoner of Azkaban; and Newell made an enjoyable film with his goblet of fire. This fifth film, on the other hand, is much worse than the previous ones. But let’s start with the plot.
One would think that after such a serious event as the return of Lord Voldemort the world of magic would be ready to fight him… on the contrary! The Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy) is convinced that the whole story is a lie orchestrated by Dumbledore who would like to sit in his chair. And The Daily Prophet helps spreading this absurd thesis (J.K. Rowling evidently added a layer of satire to his magical world about the media serving those in power; actually, she did something similar with the character of the journalist Rita Skeeter played by Miranda Richardson in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)! Thus, for Harry things at school are really bad and he feels more alone than ever (and Dumbledore doesn’t help by avoiding him at all costs), although Ron and Hermione are always at his side. Moreover, the ministry interferes with the education of our heroes by sending the cruel Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, which… she doesn’t!
So, in order to try to support the true Order of the Phoenix with the various Dumbledore, Moody, Lupin and Tonks (Natalia Tena), Sirius Black, the Weasleys… who outside the school are trying to fight Voldemort and his followers, Harry and his companions create Dumbledore’s army to teach all the bravest students of the school some real and useful spells to fight death eaters. Naturally, the adolescent issues continue and finally Harry gets a kiss from the beautiful Cho, with the poor little girl feeling guilty she’s still thinking about Cedric’s tragic death! It all ends with a battle at the ministry of magic where Voldemort finally reveals himself to a large group of aurors and to Minister Fudge himself.
Where to start with the problems of this movie? Let’s not talk about the inept direction (at least don’t break the 180 degrees rule, Mr. Yates!) and let’s go straight to the heart of the matter: the script. The film doesn’t seem to go anywhere for almost two hours and then here comes the grand finale! The problem is that there’s no build-up, so the movie throws away the opportunity for one of the greatest emotions of the entire Harry Potter series, the death of Sirius Black, which happens in a really cold and rushed scene. We see almost nothing of the Order of the Phoenix, we barely know who’s a part of it and what they do all day. We see some training scenes at school and little else from Dumbledore’s army. The movie barely scratches the surface of Harry’s problems (see the the two simple scenes with Seamus Finnigan, played by Devon Murray), although Daniel Radcliffe offers a good performance in which some growth in both the character and the actor is evident. And then the McGuffin, the prophecy, dosn’t get a proper revelation: it’s almost impossible to understand what it says, and who says it, or why it’s so important! Not to mention the photography that is getting even darker, continuing the trend already started with the second movie: in some moments it’s hard to understand what’s happening on the screen!
Ok, ok, I admit that not everything has to be thrown away: the character of Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) is memorable, as are the thestrals. The final fight is spectacular to watch, especially the duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore. Helena Bonham Carter is perfect for the part of the mad Bellatrix Lestrange, and Imelda Staunton does an immense job on her evil character making her unforgettable (she’s amazing when throwing out poor Professor Trelawney played by her friend Emma Thompson). For me, that’s all. Luckily, Steve Kloves would return as the screenwriter for the next film and things would improve, but I think that the arrival of Yates hurt the saga of our favorite young wizard. Obviously, I’m among the few who think so since he was also entrusted with all the films of the next saga, Fantastic Beasts. As usual, this proves that I don’t understand anything about cinema (this is also Daniel Radcliffe’s favourite movie of the saga, for example)… ciao!