Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Harry Potter Movies

Released: 2007
Director: David Yates

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson


Rookie director’s amazing accomplishment


For Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film in the Harry Potter series we once again have another new director.  The fourth man in charge thus far in the franchise and this time it feels just right.  British TV director David Yates makes his first foray into big budget movie making and he fits into the role perfectly.  From the opening credits with their ominous tone Yates stamps his own vision and authority on the films.  This is going to be dark, it’s going to be scary and it’s going to be an exhilarating ride.

As you would expect the film can’t cover everything in the novel.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in the series and to adapt it perfectly for the big screen would take several years to film and several days to watch.  This adaptation, however, is as good as you could wish for, the main plot points are all covered and the heart of the novel is maintained.  Unfortunately the planned cameo appearance by Kenneth Branagh didn’t happen – it would have been great to see Gilderoy Lockhart again.

There are fewer large set-piece special effects scenes than in previous films, but the ones that do feature are stunning.  The broomstick ride over the Thames is fantastic, if a little cliched, and the Thestral ride to the Ministry of Magic for the final battle is another stand-out moment.

The casting director, Fiona Weir, deserves particular praise for her work on Order of the Phoenix.  The cast expands in each film and once again exactly the right actors have been cast in the roles.  Evanna Lynch has a sweet, ethereal quality as Luna Lovegood, Imelda Staunton infuses Dolores Umbridge with all the vindictiveness the part demands and Helena Bonham-Carter is suitably insane as Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange.  Daniel Radcliffe has matured well into the role of Harry – he portrays an angry, angst-ridden teenager very well and his confusion and naivete around his first kiss with the lovely Cho Chang is touching and sweet.

I was really pleased to see Oliver and James Phelps get their moment in the spotlight; they’ve impressed throughout as Fred and George Weasley (or is that George and Fred).  While their departure from Hogwarts isn’t as long or as messy as in the book it’s still a scene of sheer joy, to be savoured among all the darkness.  Imelda Staunton is brilliant as the evil Dolores Umbridge, the ministry witch who makes big changes to the Hogwarts regime.  Her fluffy pinkness and mewling kittens are more sinister than any encounter with Voldemort.  In her defence who hasn’t wanted to tidy up scruffy teenage boys and make them tuck their shirts in.

The final sequence is as exhilarating as in the book, if slightly sanitised, damn those child friendly ratings!  The death of one of the main characters is heart-breaking, there’s no dialogue but the faces of Daniel Radcliffe and David Thewlis conveys the sheer agony of the moment.  The Voldemort/Dumbledore battle is a triumph in the finest tradition of master/pupil duels – I did have to check that the wand colours weren’t the same as Obi-Wan and Darth Vadar’s light sabres.  They aren’t, but they aren’t a kick in the pants away from it either.

Order of the Phoenix slugs it out with Prisoner of Azkaban for the title of best film in the series so far.  I think Prisoner of Azkaban probably just squeaks it but that doesn’t stop Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix being a top-class action adventure film which belies the director’s lack of experience with a big budget.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince >>
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