tek's rating: ¼

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (PG-13)
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Caution: spoilers.

This is the fifth movie in the Harry Potter franchise, and it's directed by David Yates (the fourth director in the franchise, who will direct all the remaining films). It came out in 2007, but I didn't see it until 2019. And I feel I should remind you that as of this time, I still haven't read any of the books, so I can't compare the movies to them. I must also say that this is my favorite of the movies so far.

It begins with Harry getting into an argument with a group of muggle bullies (though for once, Harry himself wasn't the one being bullied, as he normally is by his family). The leader of the bullies is Harry's cousin, Dudley Dursley, though it took me awhile to realize that; I didn't recognize him at all, despite it being the same actors as in the previous films. Anyway... the argument is interrupted when the skies suddenly cloud over and darken, and... Harry and Dudley start running for shelter, I guess. When they get to a tunnel, they're attacked by Dementors, though I guess muggles can't see such creatures, so... despite the fact that Harry saves Dudley's life, he's the one who gets blamed for nearly killing him. While he's bringing the nearly unconscious Dudley back home, he learns that his neighbor, Mrs. Figg, had been sent by Dumbledore to watch over him while he was staying with the Dursleys. And when he gets home, he receives a letter saying he has been expelled from Hogwarts, because of having used magic in the muggle world. Soon after that, his aunt and uncle take Dudley to the hospital.

Harry is deeply upset, of course. But he's soon visited by Mad-Eye Moody and Remus Lupin, as well as a few new characters. (I didn't even remember Lupin, despite having just seen him in the third movie less than a month before I watched this one. Because I am terrible at remembering people, I guess.) We learn that they're members of a group called the Order of the Phoenix, which had been founded by Dumbledore to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters. I would have liked to learn more about the Order and its members, but they play a very small role in this movie, despite the title. They take Harry to the home of his godfather, Sirius Black, which serves as the Order's headquarters. It turns out that Hermione and Ron are already there, as well. After this reunion, Harry has to stand trial before the Ministry of Magic. Mrs. Figg speaks in his defense, as does Dumbledore himself. The head of the Ministry, Cornelius Fudge, doesn't believe that Harry was attacked by Dementors, and more importantly, he doesn't believe Voldemort has returned. Rather, he believes Dumbledore has been raising an army to take control of the Ministry away from him, and Harry's claim to have fought Voldemort is merely a cover story. Luckily, the majority of members of the Ministry vote to overturn Harry's expulsion.

So, Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to Hogwarts for their fifth year. And once again, there is a new teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts. This time it's Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), a member of the Ministry who we first saw during Harry's trial. She is very firmly on the side of Minister Fudge, and therefore not a fan of Harry or Dumbledore. She generally has a very cheery demeanor, though this is a facade that she frequently drops... sort of. I mean, at the best of times, her tone quite fails to cover her negative personality, and thinking back, I can't even recall if she ever actually stopped sounding cheerful, even when she was at her absolute worst. Either way, she's definitely a disturbing character. And eventually, she becomes an Inquisitor. She recruits some students (including Draco Malfoy and his friends) to help search for any signs of wrongdoing (as defined by Umbridge, who issues a series of edicts to make life at Hogwarts more draconian for all the students). She is also assisted by Argus Filch. And when she insists on teaching her class only magical theory, and not allow them to actually practice defensive spells, Ron and Hermione convince Harry to begin secretly teaching their fellow students some spells he had learned in the previous movies. Meanwhile, it seems like Harry and Cho Chang could start a relationship this year... but that possibility gets undercut by a plot development I don't want to spoil.

I also need to mention that there's a new student named Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), who is someone I'd been vaguely aware of for years before ever seeing this movie, just from seeing pictures in articles about the franchise, or whatever. I'd always looked forward to getting to know the character, and I must say I was not disappointed. Some might say she seems a bit mad, or at least strange. And certainly those are qualities I like, but I'd say her personality, as well as her looks and voice, could all best be described as "ethereal," a combination that immediately made her one of my favorite characters in the franchise. Another new character I should mention is Grawp, a giant who is Hagrid's half-brother. Hagrid himself was absent for the early part of the movie, and when he returns, he reveals to Harry, Hermione, and Ron that Dumbledore had sent him to negotiate with the giants. (Hagrid himself is a half-giant, a fact that I've always found a bit hard to fully believe. I mean, he's supposed to be seen as quite large, but I've never thought he seemed even close to being inhumanly large. And seeing Grawp, a CGI creature, I can say that Hagrid is not even close to half his brother's size. ...I also can't help but wonder how it's even possible for a human and a giant to procreate together, but perhaps that's something I'd rather not know.) Anyway, Grawp is of very minor importance to the story.

Well... so much happens, it's hard for me to remember it all, or the order in which it happened. But... Harry has been having visions. One of them is of Ron's father being attacked, and that actually happens. So it seems there may be a mental link between Harry and Voldemort, and Dumbledore tells Severus Snape to begin teaching Harry to block mental intrusions, so that Voldemort wouldn't be able to read Harry's mind, or control it. And eventually, several prisoners (who are all Death Eaters) escape from Azkaban, including Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). Later, Harry has a vision of Sirius being tortured by Voldemort. And... some other stuff happens that I've already forgotten how it all fits together. But eventually, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna go to the Department of Mysteries, which is where Harry saw Sirius in his vision, and where there was an object Voldemort wanted to obtain. They're confronted by Death Eaters, including Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange. But Harry and his friends are rescued by the Order of the Phoenix. Then Voldemort himself shows up, but he's stopped when Dumbledore also joins the fray. And Ministry officials finally arrive, forcing Fudge to acknowledge the truth of Voldemort's return.

Well, I've left out a ton of details. (And it just occurred to me this is the first movie without a Quidditch match in it.) I don't really know what else to say, except that I found it ironic that Umbridge, a witch, was heading up an Inquisition... which could be considered a "witch hunt." (Really, the paranoia and hatred she and Fudge felt is reminiscent of Salem, and McCarthyism, and most recently, Trumpism.) Anyway, it's a very intense movie, with growth for the familiar characters as well as the introduction of new characters, some of whom I'm sure will be important throughout the remaining films, which I greatly look forward to. (Oh, and I especially want to see how Lucius being outed as a servant of Voldemort affects Draco.)


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