HARRY POTTER And The Order Of The Phoenix: Watchable But Not Great
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Gary Oldman and Imelda Staunton
Director: David Yates
Time: 138 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? The first impression one gets of this Harry Potter Movie No. 5 is that Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends look awfully awkward in their transition from child actors to adolescent stars. Their boyish – and girlish – charms and demeanour are gone, and we have a difficult time trying to imagine the over-17-year-olds passing off as 15-year-olds.
However, these are not the only problems that plague "Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix". Fans who expect to be carried away by the magic (like they had been in the previous movies) would be sorely disappointed. Director David Yates merely succeeds in telling the story – but he supplies precious little in terms of ‘wow factors’ or uproarious humour and wit.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? "Order Of The Phoenix" sees Harry and friends returning to Hogwarts for their fifth year of study. Harry soon discovers that the authorities, including the Ministry of Magic, are in denial about Lord Voldemort's return. The Order of the Phoenix, a group sworn against Voldemort, is using its magical forces to combat Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) but Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy), the Minister for Magic, suspects that headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is using claims of the Dark Lord's return as a means to overthrow Fudge as Minister.
In retaliation, Fudge appoints a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Prof Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), to keep an eye on Hogwarts and Dumbledore. When it becomes obvious to Harry and his pals, Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), that Umbridge is not about to teach them anything about defending themselves against Voldemort, they form a secret club called ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ to prepare for the battle with the Dark Lord.
THE HIGHS & LOWS: Other than moving the story forward, this instalment offers nothing new to awe its legions of fans. Like "The Prisoner of Azkaban" (arguably, the best of the series), the tone is still ‘dark and dank’ but there is an aura of familiarity pervading this movie. Sure, we get to meet an intellectually-challenged Giant named Grawp, but his antics would only tickle the fancy of little children. The earlier sequences of the dreadful Dementors fare better, though.
Also, the much-touted kissing scene between Harry and his love-interest Cho Chang (Katie Leung) has as much sizzle as a damp firecracker. Romantic relationships are utmost on the minds of adolescents but the film-makers fail to capitalise on them. Instead, Yates squanders the footage on repetitive story build-up sequences. Compared to the previous efforts, the special effects here look lame and uninspired.
I have nothing to complain about the supporting cast. Most of them are comfortable reprising their roles. However, newcomer Staunton gives ruthlessness a new and gleeful look, not to mention a new colour, pink, instead of the standard black. Yeah, she is deliciously evil as the conspiratorial Prof Umbridge who giggles as she dishes out punishment.
THE LOWDOWN: On the whole, this movie is watchable, but not as great as the previous outings. Ironically, those who have not read J.K. Rowling’s books would probably enjoy it more than those who had.