Today is day five of the EYG 8 Days of Potter re-watch. In the series, we a re up to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a film that, in my original memory, kind of blended together with most of the last few Harry Potter movies. However, that is an unfair assessment from me, because this is a truly strong film that sets up the war that will be coming.
In the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has been suffering from the results of the tragic circumstances at the end of the Goblet of Fire. One could make an argument that Harry was going through PTSD from his confrontation with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). So when the creepy Dementors attacked Harry and his cousin Dudley (Harry Melling), Harry had to respond with an illegal use of magic.
This was one of the few misfires I think the film had. There was an opportunity for us to see Dudley in more of a light than the one-dimensional character that he has been since we first saw him dropping though the glass into the viper cage. Unfortunately, the film decided to have the character stick with his typical ways and be the Dursley that he is.
Harry is prosecuted for his offense, which seems like a severe over-reaction. This is the Ministry of Magic firing back at the idea that Voldemort had returned. Showing Harry to be of low moral character appeared to be the strategy to allow the world to keep itself in denial.
Getting past the charges, Harry returned to Hogwarts under the cloud of suspicion and anger from his proclamation about Voldemort and the result of the death of Cedric (Robert Pattinson). Harry tired to push everyone away but his friends stuck closely by his side (a much better result than in Goblet of Fire).
The franchise added what has to be one of the greatest villains in the series. I say “one of” because clearly Lord Voldemort is iconic and could be considered the Darth Vader of the Harry Potter universe. The villain introduced here did not have any ties to Voldemort. Instead, as a member of the Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) arrives as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She had her eye on more than just that though.
As a representative of the Ministry of Magic, Umbridge took her position in a way that molded the use of magic in a specific manner. She would eventually come into conflict with Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).
There is the themes here that are being set up for the remainder of the franchise, mainly that Harry and Voldemort are two sides of the same coin. There are definite Star Wars feel to the Order of the Phoenix as Harry and Voldemort struggle within. You could almost hear Voldemort say that Harry did not know the power of the dark side. The Order of the Phoenix does a great job of setting the sides.
That is probably the biggest issue with this film and the main reason why my memory of the film was so weak. It truly is a transitional film, going from the tragic end of the Goblet of Fire to an eventual finale. It is like a step on the path instead of its own unique chapter. While I watched the movie, I was fully engaged by its narrative, but later on, will it still standout in my mind?
David Yates took over the director’s chair here and helmed the remaining films of the franchise. That is an important fact as the singular voice helped mold the ending of the series of films into one complete epic.
The Order of the Phoenix gives strong character development for many of the characters that we knew and sets us on the dark path to the eventual war between Harry and Voldemort.