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Old 07-10-2007, 11:20 PM
EmmaRiddle EmmaRiddle is offline
Post SnitchSeeker Order of the Phoenix review #1 (spoiler-free)

On June 21st I had the great pleasure of attending a press screening of Order of the Phoenix. Since then I've had to sit on this review, for fear of incurring the wrath of WB. But with the film being released today in the U.S. I can finally reveal to you all what I thought of it.

P.S: It's spoiler-free so it won't ruin the experience of watching the film.

P.P.S: Expect a further two reviews from Imi and Laurie very soon!


Voldemort is back, yet Harry is stuck in Surrey with the Dursley’s, cut off from the wizarding community. His world is turned upside down when he and his cousin are attacked by dementors, and Harry soon finds himself being whisked to London, where he encounters the Order of the Phoenix (a group of witches & wizards working against Voldemort) and is put on trial for using magic in the presence of a muggle. When Harry eventually returns to school, he finds that despite everything that happened the previous year, not everyone believes you-know-who is back, thanks to the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge and the Daily Prophet newspaper. Fights with his peers, however, are the least of his problems as Dolores Umbridge, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, unleashes her reign of terror upon the school, prompting the children to form the rebellious Dumbledore’s Army. Alliances are made and broken, and Harry and Co. are tricked into going to the Ministry of Magic, where a battle ensues, secrets are discovered and sacrifices are made. And on top of all that, Harry gets his first kiss. Potter has finally grown up.

Order of the Phoenix, the fifth Harry Potter film in the franchise, and only the second to be helmed by a British director, is unique in the sense that for the first time the lines between fantasy and reality become truly blurred.

The fourth sequel is real, from its performances, to its sets, from its costumes to its cinematography, from its music to its hair & make-up. Despite being set in a wizarding world, Yates ensures that the narrative remains engrained with a gritty realism, paralleling, rather fittingly, the environment in which we currently live.

An issue every new director to the series encounters is the problem of transferring the novel to the screen. None has had it tougher than Yates, who had to tackle with the largest Harry Potter book to date. As most fans can and do appreciate, the two are very different mediums; there are certain things in the novels which just won’t work on screen. Furthermore, sacrifices have to be made, in the name of keeping the circulation going in the backsides of audiences everywhere.

Yates gets around this problem by utilising montages throughout the film, to convey Umbridge’s reign of terror, the D.A.’s (Dumbledore’s Army) rebellion and most touchingly, Harry’s impetus for living to fight another day. To further progress the narrative, the Daily Prophet is also used equally successfully. It is decisions such as these, those small touches, which demonstrate why David Yates is the best Potter director to have played in the world so far. Five stories in, it will be inevitably harder to keep the attention of that mass audience. So steeped in back-story, it would be quite easy to lose the viewers amongst it all. However this possibility is averted through the clever use multiple flash and throwbacks.

As with every instalment, the acting once again kicks up a notch, in regards to the not-so-kidlike child actors. However, it is Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), newcomer to the series, who really stands out. Her performance is both amusing and heartfelt, and despite her limited screen time, Lynch really makes you love Luna. She seems so effortless and natural, qualities which every Potter fan can value – Lynch knows Luna inside out and back to front.

In the adult camp, it is Imelda Staunton (Umbridge) who really shines as the wicked Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. With a character as seemingly ludicrous as she, it would be very easy for an actor to go too far, but fortunately Staunton, whose attitudes and mannerisms in the role rather resemble a one Margaret Thatcher, pitches it perfectly. Umbridge appears to be a grandmotherly figure, but beneath the surface bubbles a woman who is clearly unstable, yet entirely believes that her methods of discipline and teaching are for the common good. With that in mind, rather than simply hate, you grow to feel sorry for the deranged woman. It is to both Staunton and Yates’ credit that they have managed to create a character that goes above and beyond the two-dimensional caricature of typical children’s villains.

Whilst Hogwarts is magical, there is as ever the presence of teenage angst, lest it be forgotten that the academy is also a high school. There is a definite feeling of young manly testosterone being thrown about, and there are gentle hints at future relationships – Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny – as well as indications that there may be more to come from a certain witch. The biggest theme of them all though, is the foreboding feeling of isolation which Harry experiences, both that which comes organically and the kind he attempts to force on himself. Fortunately the other major player, love, in the form of friendship, wins out as a strength rather than a weakness.

Order of the Phoenix has its fair share of vast and impressive set pieces – the Ministry of Magic, Hogwarts & Grimmauld Place – however it is the character moments which the film will be remembered for. Those small nuances, the slight gestures, that all add up to create a more believable set of characters, which not only hold the narrative together, but also enrich it, moving you to genuinely care about them. In particular, the performances of; Alan Rickman, who creates a more human Snape, Jason Isaacs, who exudes elegance and seduction as Lucius Malfoy, Helena Bonham-Carter who portrays Bellatrix Lestrange as a woman teetering on the edge of insanity and Gary Oldman whose pseudo-relationship with Harry, as Sirius Black, manages to be incredibly touching but also unhealthy and ominous.

The climax of the film is spectacular – for the first time we get to see a proper wizarding battle. For this Yates has pulled out all the stops, even going so far as to hire a choreographer to invent different ways of casting spells. But it is the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort that really stands above and beyond the rest. This clash, which fans have waited for with baited breath, is everything it promised to be and more. The two heavyweights go head to head in a duel which knocks all wand fights out of the water.

It should also be noted that Daniel Radcliffe, as Harry, has come a tremendous way from the wide-eyed star-struck 11 year old we first encountered in Philosopher’s Stone. Whilst Rupert Grint (Ron) and Emma Watson (Hermione) have naturally grown too, it is Dan who comes on in leaps and bounds, to deliver a complex performance that will no doubt leave many intrigued as to what he will achieve beyond the world of Harry Potter.
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Old 07-11-2007, 03:01 AM   #26 (permalink)

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Originally Posted by Melted 4 HP View Post
it actually comes out tomorrow...

tonight at midnight

It was midnight where I live *points to location*

Sounds good although I wish it weren't spoiler-free. :p
If you have any specific questions, you can always PM me

Last edited by EmmaRiddle; 07-11-2007 at 03:03 AM.
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Old 07-11-2007, 03:04 AM   #27 (permalink)
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It sucks i have to wait until friday to see the movie...actually i can't even go until like sunday or monday night...I have to go camping with my family!!
but i love spending time with my family i've waited this long it wont kill me to wait a couple more days!
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Old 07-11-2007, 03:14 AM   #28 (permalink)
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im going tomorow it will be sweet
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Old 07-11-2007, 03:53 AM   #29 (permalink)
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You made me so excited I can barely wait to go see it tomorrow!

You're so lucky to be able to have seen it early! I wish I could have!
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Old 07-11-2007, 04:00 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I saw it this morning and agree with your review.

It's so much closer to the book in tone and feel. There are lots of little subplots missing, but the major essence of the book is condensed into what I consider to be the best Potter movie yet.

The acting is excellent. Emma Watson toned down her overacting of GoF and does a wonderful job. Rupert's Ron is sensitive and caring and uses dark humour to great effect. Dan's matured well and portrays a tortured, conflicted Harry very well. Luna is excellent and to my great relief, Michael Gambon has finally nailed Dumbledore at last - 3rd time lucky. Dumbledore is serene, all knowing and all powerful, but not so much of the flaky eccentric that Gambon moved Dumbledore towards in movies 3 & 4. It's more like a Richard Harris portayal. I like it. Umbridge is subtly evil and Snape is just great...brooding, wise and demanding.

The effects are great (except the kids on the long bridge at Hogwarts - the background is obviously painted) and the fireworks when the Weasleys leave and the duelling at the climax are fantastic. I liked the collages used via the Daily Prophet to speed the storyline along and the montage of shots of the DA's development.

There are two major lines which change how I look at things and perhaps reinforce some theories in the book seven forum. I won't ruin it, but one's from Malfoy Senior about Harry's scar and the other is from Luna at the end of the movie when talking about being reunited with lost possessions.

We're going back to see it again. It is suitable for older children, so we'll take the kids along next time. There's a lot of implied threats and impending violence, but none of it is too graphic or gory. It adds to the atmosphere but doesn't go over the top. A well made, excellent movie.

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Old 07-11-2007, 04:03 AM   #31 (permalink)
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ooo. Nice review!

Thanks, Kitakins <3
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Old 07-11-2007, 06:11 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Great job Emma!
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Old 07-11-2007, 06:21 AM   #33 (permalink)

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I'm not going..
OMG, I'm so excited. I get to see it today. Aaargh. I can't wait any longer. I saw some previews too,, from the MoM and Grimmauld Place. It just lookes so awesome!!
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Old 07-11-2007, 06:46 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Seeing it tomorrow! Even more excited now!

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Old 07-11-2007, 06:57 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Good job EmmaRiddle!
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:16 AM   #36 (permalink)

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I've just come back from seeing the movie and it was brilliant. The scenes in the MOM were spectacular and I've got to say everyone will just love Luna Lovegood she was great. And the scene with Grawp is really quite funny. you're going to love it Harry Potter fans. Now just have to wait for the final book to come out. Your review was right on the mark Emma.

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Old 07-11-2007, 07:50 AM   #37 (permalink)
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awsome! sounds like you had fun!
i went and saw the movie today, it was pretty good, very different to the other films. loved the whole battle scene between voldy and dumbledore at the end!

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Old 07-11-2007, 09:06 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Saw it again, loved it again! Did any of you guys see it in IMAX 3D? The last 20 minutes are in 3D and it is AMAZING.
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:04 AM   #39 (permalink)
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I have yet to see it but from what i have seen on here it sounds really awsome
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Old 07-11-2007, 01:23 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Great job!! Sounds very good.
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Old 07-11-2007, 02:20 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Nice review, I am so excited, I can't wait to see this movie which has been released in my country at midnight, although im not sure when I will be able to see it, oh well, im still really excited
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Old 07-11-2007, 02:29 PM   #42 (permalink)

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Yay!!! Can't wait to go see it!

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Old 07-11-2007, 02:33 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Fantastic review, just makes me even more eager to see the film. Can't wait!!
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Old 07-11-2007, 03:02 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Ahhhhhh! Get to go see it tonight!!!! I'm soooooooooooo excited!!!!!

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Old 07-11-2007, 06:55 PM   #45 (permalink)
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I saw it last night it was really awesome
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Old 07-11-2007, 09:17 PM   #46 (permalink)
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Today, at midnight, I saw the Dutch OotP premiere! Wow!
It was a great movie. It's my favorite HP movie now... I was sceptical at first but after the movie I was flabbergasted. I was completely blown out of my socks! OotP has everything, from happiness to sadness. It's a must-see.

David Yates did a great job with this movie, I hope he will return for DH after directing HBP!
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Old 07-15-2007, 09:10 PM   #47 (permalink)
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It was fantastic
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Old 07-19-2007, 04:35 AM   #48 (permalink)
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As I've seen the movie (twice!), the review is perfect. Just perfect.
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