The series has already ventured into deeper, darker territory, but with Order of the Phoenix – the fifth of seven movies – there’s more dark than light in the lives of our favorite Hogwarts students. The kid wizards are growing up and in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix maturity and approaching adulthood are coming frightfully fast and at quite a price.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opens with Harry still at the dreaded Dursleys and bored to tears at being cooped up in the land of Muggles. But everything abruptly changes when Harry and his cousin Dudley are attacked by the soul-sucking dementors who are definitely not supposed to be anywhere near Pivot Drive. The only way Harry’s able to save himself and Dudley is by using magic, something forbidden outside of Hogwarts. News of his use of magic travels at the speed of light to the Ministry of Magic and Harry soon receives notice that he’s been expelled from school.
Thanks to some timely intervention by Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) Harry’s spared expulsion, but that doesn’t do much to lighten his spirits. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has been haunting his dreams and Harry’s sure He Who Must Not Be Named is close by. Meanwhile Harry, Hermione, Ron and a good portion of the Weasley clan have taken up residence in Harry’s godfather’s place. Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has provided a meeting place for the Order of the Phoenix, a top secret group made up of some of the most powerful wizards and aurors (otherwise known as dark wizard catchers) whose mission it is to battle Voldemort.
Asserting their power over Hogwarts, the Ministry has placed one of their own as the new Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), with the backing of the Ministry, has come to Hogwarts to squash all talk of the return of Voldemort. Her methods aren’t pretty and the students, led by Harry, rebel against her and against the idiocracy of the Ministry by forming Dumbledore’s Army. Made up of a hand-picked group of students, the DA meets in secret to practice defending themselves against an attack by Voldemort’s forces. As dreams of Voldemort continue to plague him, Harry realizes that another meeting with the Dark Lord is inevitable. The only real question is whether he’ll be ready for the battle.
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have grown up in front of our eyes as the stars of the Harry Potter movies. As each actor has blossomed physically, their acting skills have also blossomed. Radcliffe in particular has turned into a fine performer who should be able to tackle roles outside of the HP universe without any problem.
The supporting players are many in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but unfortunately for fans of the colorful characters who make up the Order of the Phoenix not much time is spent on anyone outside of the Hogwarts group. David Thewlis and Brendan Gleeson are seen very briefly, flitting in and out of the picture along with half a dozen other Harry Potter characters including Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley (she’s in the background but never in the spotlight).
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