My third favorite movie in the series and the movie with one of the best movie villains that isn’t the main overarching villain. Order of the Phoenix is a weird case for me indeed when it comes to when I actually got around to watching it. For some reason, sometime in-between seeing Goblet of Fire and this one, I found myself disinterested in the movies. I’m not exactly sure what it was that distracted me away from wanting to continue watching them, but I only remember waiting until after the final film in the series was released on disc before I ended up buying all of them to watch all together. During this time I even managed to stay away from reviews or spoilers for any of the movies which definitely helped my experience. I know that I was always very fond of it and the few times I watched it since that first time, I remember feeling the same, so I wasn’t too worried about my feelings changing this time around, but you never know…
Order of the Phoenix feels like the most mature film to date and doesn’t hold back when giving a constant sense of dread that also falls over our hero. It again brings in the use of underage wizardry, but this time Harry isn’t getting off so easy with his claim that Voldemort has returned in the previous film. It caused a big controversy with the Minister of Magic denying the whole thing and calling Harry and Dumbledore liars. This is the main focus of the film when getting into the meat of the story and when we see certain character interactions.
It was cool to see some of the ministry and to have a more in depth look into how they go about interrogating people. It also sets up a fear and denial by the Minister along with some of his other followers as to the actual return of Voldemort while also introducing our new secondary villain, Delores Umbridge.
I think the most universal agreement with this movie is that it has a villain that isn’t Voldemort who we all agree to absolutely hate. Of course though it’s love to hate because she’s written in such a way that you’re supposed to hate her as much as you do, but we respect the writing and use of the character. She really plays the part of being the secondary villain incredibly well while we focus on the buildup of the overarching story.
I can’t say that I really like how Harry was written in this movie with him wanting to be pissed at everyone and giving Ron crap when he tries to comfort him, but it does make a lot of sense. By the end of the film, you realize that Voldemort has really been influencing Harry throughout the whole film including his anger that is built up throughout the movie. I really respect the decision to show this side of Harry who could have easily been a new version of Voldemort which of course was his intention. It really is the execution though that I love to see because it shows how Star Wars should have handled the fall of Anakin. It’s an intriguing and clever angle to take on our hero as we see him be torn between good and evil and I really respect how they handled it.
The downside to all of the focus being on Harry is that we don’t get really fulfilling arcs for our other two main cast members with Ron and Hermione. Of course they have a big part to play when it comes to teaching the other students as members of Dumbledore’s army, but they really don’t go through an arc. They’re there and they just exist as his friends for the most part, while the real character arc focus was placed on Luna, Neville, and Jenny.
Without thinking ahead to the events that happen in the next movies, I would immediately assume that their intention is to build these characters up for the future use of them when the big fighting begins. It is a bit risky because you’re making two of your core cast take a backseat to some characters that up to this point have not had much to do, but it actually turns out to work pretty well. The advantage they have is that Ron and Hermione are already well established, so what we get are three characters who we haven’t connected with that well turn into well develop and strong members of the team and that shows towards the end.
One thing that really stood out to me was that it felt like we weren’t given enough information at times and there was either a longer cut or a lot was just skipped over when they made the script. Really this comes down to the whole prophecy part of the story where everyone is trying to get this prophecy that has Harry’s name on it. Now I’ve seen the movie plenty of times and I still can’t figure out why it took so long for anybody but Harry to retrieve it and why exactly is it so vital to Voldemort? Okay yeah what the prophecy states makes sense, but it also states the obvious. We know and our characters know that one of them has to die, so there’s really nothing this prophecy does to help or further anything we already knew. Also, as quickly as it shatters, it is immediately forgotten about, so it must not have been to significant.
With all of that said, I will now go into why I like this movie as much as I do if none of what I’ve said so far has convinced you yet. Like the previous movies, there is a point in the last act or towards the end of the movie where our characters make their way back to the overarching story that typically involves Voldemort. Up to this point we have gotten significant moments, but nothing as exciting or just flat awesome to watch on screen with how powerful we know wizards to be. The closest we got to this point was Harry vs. Voldemort at the end of The Goblet of Fire for the brief exchange that they had.
This movie raises the stakes to a whole other level as we actually get to see wizards fighting each other with different spells and actual stakes at hand. We get a group of heroes who are all fighting for their lives and for each other as they defend themselves against the evil forces. The best part about the ending is that it doesn’t cheat us at all. It sets up the climax as being an event with real stakes and it fulfills on that promise by giving us an emotional and impactful death. If that couldn’t top anything up to this point, then it was certainly the epic masterful duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore. We get to see master wizards going at it in one of the best ending fight sequences and I just ate every bit of it up.
Honestly there’s really not much about this movie that I didn’t like. I know that there are a lot of people that take issue with it because of how they adapted it from the books, but as someone who hasn’t read the books, I really enjoy this as just another installment in the Harry Potter story. There were a slight few issues that I had, but for the majority it gave me so many moments that I took in as a fan and just get so excited over every time I watch it.
To me, up to this point this is the best movie in the series and if you have issues with it because of the adaptation then so be it, but seriously we have to respect what it does as a movie and not an adaptation because they are two separate things. As a fan I just think this gives us so much that we love about the series and more.