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Harry Potter and The Order of the Pheonix

Popcorn Review by Lawrence Burgess
Courtesy, ON

July 11, 2007

Each of the films in the Harry Potter franchise have gotten increasingly darker, mature, and inevitably, better. Despite this progressive swing, all of the four previous films had something out of place. The Sorcerer's Stone is often criticized for being too juvenile. The Chamber of Secrets was too long and touch dull. The Prisoner of Azkaban deviated much from the source material and the acting was often wooden. The Goblet of Fire was poorly edited and its running time too short.

However, most do enjoy the Harry Potter films… and I am no exception. Yet exceptional is a very excellent synonym for Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (which also happens to be my favorite book). Be warned, however, this is a very adult film -- full of violence and sexual innuendo. I loved it, and am certain you shall too. I'm going to try to pick this film to death, as it's so good and sets such a high mark within the franchise. It's the best Potter film released to date. Why? You'll see.

Wow. David Yates is master, manipulator, and a resounding success. Yates is also directing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- for a very good reason. He is the best of the directors. No director has been capable of getting the performances from his actors that Yates did: not Chris Columbus, not Alphonso Cuaron, and not Mike Newell. Yates is the conductor of a fantastic symphony, and fortunately that song shall continue. Do not take my word for this: see it for yourself.

The creation of new sets and the preservation of original sets is one of the trademarks of the Harry Potter film franchise. Hordes of new additions are added in Order of the Phoenix , and delight the audience with authenticity to the book. Still, there are a few questionable choices in the film (though this may be construed as personal preference).

Gorgeous. This movie is a perfect translation from Newell's brain to the moviegoer's eye. I had the rare opportunity to be a part of the first audience in West Virginia to experience a film in total digital picture and sound. Fortunately, it was with a film I thoroughly enjoyed.

As I've said before, it's hard to choose. Order of the Phoenix is the longest books in the franchise. Hardcore fans will grind their teeth with items left out. Warners also seems to set a time restriction. How to solve the problem? Transition dreams, actions, media clippings, and delightful hallucinations. It is pure brilliance. I found no error here, as much as I fought to find one.

Costuming/Art Direction:
Some of the costumes were a little too "trendy" (i.e.: Dudley Dursley's pimp chain). Yet again, this is a minor preference. The females are attractive and empowered (even the lunacy of Dominatrix Lestrange) and the males are infused in the genre. Don't worry, the school colors haven't changed. As the series grows darker, so do the costumes. Lucius Malfoy and Sirius Black look top-notch.

Michael Goldenberg must have long, sleepless nights in choosing which parts of the book to condense, and which to edit. As this is his first Harry Potter script (and Yates's first Potter film), he hasn't the stigma to follow. The plot points are seamless and stretch the imagination. The silly lines have been placed to a minimum -- making this film aficionado very happy indeed.

Special Effects:
Voldemort's spells made me piss my pants. Need any more proof?

Score/ Soundtrack:
At last, something I can pick on! The music edits are outstanding, yet the music and setting seemed at times in appropriate and did not match the actors' resonance on camera. While Goblet of Fire had a pounding, sinister melody, Order of the Phoenix seemed more cheerful. An odd choice, though light had to emanate from somewhere. Good job, just not great (rather like the trilogies of the summer, eh?).

Primary Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe is no longer the googly-eyed fool from the first two films. He is also no longer unauthentic. Let me be frank: I do not like the Harry Potter character. For the first time, I felt for the character and genuinely became enthralled and engaged. This is because of Yates's supervision and cautious direction, and I love it. Rupert Grint (the surprise of The Goblet of Fire ) continues his rise as an actor. Emma Watson is charming, sexy (hey, at least I admit it), and possesses an effective, steady performance. Harry, Hermione, and Ron are believable and at their best. Finally, I can actually enjoy watching them on screen, and not bide time until McGonagall makes an appearance or continuously hope Voldemort hangs one of them.

Supporting Cast:
Ralph Fiennes stole the film in The Goblet of Fire . He does so again in this film. Fiennes has created one of the great film villains of the modern era, and perhaps of all time. I see lots of inspiration from Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu the Vampyre , which is a very nice touch. Evanna Lynch's Luna Lovegood is flawless casting. Imelda Staunton is Margaret Thatcher, Dick Cheney, and Nurse Ratched rolled into one. If you've read the book, you already hate Dolores Umbridge. Michael Gambon's Dumbledore is the voice of authority. Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, and Helena Bonham Carter are superior. Yates sets a new standard for performance, and everyone meets that standard.

Welcome to a higher quality of filmmaking from this franchise. I urge all readers to go see this film. Don't get fooled by a WB/Legendary logo during the trailers. It's not The Dark Knight -- to my utter disdain [I told you it wasn‘t happening yet! - Jett]. If you compare it to the rest of the lot of 2007, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the best. This is not based on preconceived notions. This is simply…

…a wonderful film. Enjoy!

Total Points: 89
Final Score: 9
BOF Grade: A-

Lawrence Burgess graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from West Virginia State University in December 2006. He currently is employed with the WV Tax Department and is studying for entrance to law school.

He is the founder/C.E.O. of Old Black Hat Films, a non-profit organization which specializes in historical, educational, and local WV films. O.B.H. also has locally released a free DVD for educational purposes.

Lawrence is a rabid Batman fanatic, football and film afficionado, and a left-wing weirdo. He also has coined the moniker "THE CHIN" for Aaron Eckhart, the newly-announced Harvey Dent... and is initiating "The Chin Revolution," for no apparent reason. Lawrence resides in Dunbar, West Virginia, with his beloved fiancee, Kristen, and three cats.


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