Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Title Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Release Date: July 11, 2007
Director: David Yates
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in the series, and an argument could be made it justified being made into two films much more than The Deathly Hallows. Instead, this film adaptation distills the story into 138 minutes, the shortest of all the films (technically, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is only 130 minutes, but it only covers half of a book).  The story is effectively streamlined, and remains entertaining and compelling, although perhaps someone who’s not read the book would not get the full depth of what’s going on. The film effectively uses montage to condense the storyline, and I particular like the sequences of Filch and Umbridge attempting to catch Dumbeldore’s Army and hanging decrees on the wall.

This is the first film in the series directed by David Yates, who’s prior experience was largely in television.  He’s become something of the house director for the Wizarding World, directing the final 4 Harry Potter movies, and is tapped to direct all 5 of the Fantastic Beasts movies.

This film also introduces some inspired acting choices.  Evanna Lynch perfectly captures Luna Lovegood, wisely playing her as strange and unsettling but not going overboard into “loony.”  Meanwhile, Imelda Staunton may possibly be a perfectly nice human being, but she thoroughly embodies the cruelty of the most hated character in the series, Dolores Umbridge.  Unfortunately, Helena Bonham-Carter seems to be acting as if she’s in a Tim Burton film, and her cartoonishly evil portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange is out of place.

I think the Order of the Phoenix joins the Prisoner of Azkaban as the best films in the series up to this point.

Rating: ***1/2

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