Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Release Date: July 11, 2007
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Movie of the Day for Thursday, May 31, 2007
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On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
13/214 Max Braden Dark but not as empty feeling as Goblet. Excellent special effects.
15/48 Kim Hollis Harry seems to find his way onto my top list every year. These movies are all just golden.
15/46 Les Winan Yet another film that is a quantum leap from the uncreative first two. Visually grand and impressive, it's the tremendous casting that's the unsung hero. Helena Bonham Carter is perfectly cast.
24/94 Shane Jenkins Going to Hogwarts doesn't look like much fun anymore, and that's just as it should be. Dark and kind of great.
25/33 John Seal Not as annoying as the earlier Potter films--and no miserable Qudditich matches

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$3.5 billion. That is how much in worldwide receipts that the first four movie adaptations of the Harry Potter books have earned. To put that number into the proper context, simply consider that there have been six Star Wars films, three of which have received multiple releases. The entirety of the Lucas saga comprises $4.3 billion in box office. The Harry Potter franchise will surpass this amount with their next release, which happens to be…

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is arguably the most controversial book in the series to date. With Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the only title yet to be released, book five has become the lightning rod for mixed opinions. No less of a literary expert than Stephen King has stepped up and expressed tremendous fondness for the character of Dolores Umbridge, the villainess in Order of the Phoenix. King believes her to exemplify the methodology through which adults suppress the creativity of children. Many other book critics were less enthusiastic about the J.K. Rowling creation. They felt that the 870 pages of the novel created redundancy on top of redundancy in terms of behavioral patterns. As someone who has read all of the books in the Harry Potter franchise, I am inclined to agree with such assessments. Order of the Phoenix left me cold in that it was far too drawn out and went a few steps beyond methodical into the realm of laborious.

But there is good news with regards to a movie adaptation. A faithful adaptation of an 870 page novel would take about 15 hours to complete. This means that new Potter director David Yates has to trim the fat wherever possible. A sleeker version of the premise of Order of the Phoenix is on its way into theaters, and North American movie-goers have reason to believe that this focus upon core characters will lead to best Potter film yet. After all, the story lends itself perfectly to the movie-making process.

Harry Potter and his friends are now rebels against the bureaucratic minions in control of their school as well as the government. Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge has refused to acknowledge what anyone who saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire already knows. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has returned from the great beyond, and he is once more seeking to enslave the world. With Fudge giving strict orders to begin a cover-up, his agent at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Umbridge, becomes the key player in this story. She seeks to prevent all of the children from gossiping about the one topic that is a huge no-no, Voldemort. Since Potter and his friends have already had several skirmishes with the followers of Voldemort and the evil wizard has recently claimed the life of a popular Hogwarts student, Cedric Diggory, they are unwilling to turn a blind eye to recent events. Umbridge grows more tyrannical by the day, causing an oppressive atmosphere at the formerly blissful educational facility.

Hogwarts leader Albus Dumbledore and many of Potter’s friends form a secret society, the Order of the Phoenix, in order to re-open the lines of communication and form an opposition to Voldemort and his team of vicious Death Eaters. The members of this group are facing an uphill battle in not only staving off the evil advances of the world’s most feared man but also the political rhetoric of everyday citizens who should know that their lives are in danger but refuse to acknowledge. With both parties entrenched in their positions, war is inevitable, and this point is driven home clearly in Order of the Phoenix as a much beloved J.K. Rowling character is killed in battle. This fifth book and movie in the series of seven titles is when the bar is raised to a new level. No longer are Potter and co. innocent children trying to learn about life and magic. Now, they are war-proven, preternaturally hardened teens having to behave like adults in a time when many who are adults themselves refuse to do so.

I’m not sure how much more needs to be said about the Harry Potter franchise at this point. With over 80 million books sold and $3.5 billion worth of movie tickets purchased, Potter’s ubiquity rivals any cultural item since Homer’s The Odyssey. Odds are that you are going to see this movie and that you are going to read Deathly Hallows at some point in your life. It’s that simple. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Main Cast Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Supporting Cast Imelda Staunton, Helena Bonham Carter, Evanna Lynch, George Harris, Helen McCrory, Natalia Tena, Kathryn Hunter
Director David Yates
Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg
Distributor Warner Bros.
Rating PG-13
Screen Count 4,181
Also see How Well Do You Know: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
How Well Do You Know: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Shane Jenkins reviews Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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