Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Gary Oldman, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman
Directed By: David Yates
I’ll begin this review the way I’ll probably begin every Harry Potter review I’ll write, by stating that I’m not a big fan of the series. I haven’t read any of the books, and have only seen each movie once. I’m neither pre-disposed to love a Harry Potter movie, nor am I prejudiced against the series in a backlash sense, nor do I have to reconcile my expectations as a reader to those as a viewer. So far, other than the last movie (which I enjoyed quite a bit), I’ve found the movies to decent entertainment. Never bad, but not exactly great either.
That pretty much describes The Order of the Phoenix to a tee, except that this time it’s a little closer to “bad” than it is to “great”, while not quite crossing that barrier. At no time while watching it did I feel like I was watching a bad movie, but when the movie was over, it basically resulted in an overall “meh”.
The problem is that it doesn’t really feel like much of a movie, but rather a 138 minute interlude between movies. The Order of the Phoenix is long on exposition and set-up, and incredibly short on delivery. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of the individual scenes, they just don’t add up to anything significant enough to consider them a complete movie.
I should add that I suspect this movie has more to offer fans of the series, as there were moments when parts of the audience would react to something rather simple as though it were highly entertaining (like the introduction of new characters). Undoubtedly, this is because they got a nice thrill seeing things on screen that they’ve previously experienced on page (kinda like when I marked out when Wolverine said “bub” for the first time in the X-Men movie). But, that doesn’t mean that the scenes are particularly interesting or memorable on their own, just that they’re fun for readers and fans.
In fact, I’d argue that there’s very little memorable about this movie at all. The final battle between Harry and his pals and the Death Eaters was fun, complete with a showdown between Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), but even that had more of a feeling of “to be continued” than anything resembling an actual climax. Basically, it and the entire movie felt like a couple of mid-season episodes of a TV show that uses the whole season to tell a story. Which works great for TV (and probably books in a series), but is incredibly underwhelming as a movie.
I ended up seeing the movie in I-MAX, and thus got to see the final battle in 3-D, which was fun. Of course, 3-D is pretty much fun onto itself, and not necessarily a reflection of the movie itself. That said, given that this movie doesn’t have a whole lot to offer as an individual entity, I suggest that you hold out for the 3-D version if you have the means to do so. If you’ve already seen the first four movies in this series, then you’re going to see this one anyway, so why not take in the only unique element this entry has to offer?