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The International Writers Magazine

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Gemma Ayres

Daniel Radcliffe and co burst back onto the screens in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth installment in the Harry Potter series. Our hero faces dark times now that Lord Voldemort has returned, and most people seem reluctant to believe Harry, resulting in him being much angrier in this film, and more ostracized. Despite being busy studying for his ‘OWLs’ (Ordinary Wizarding Levels), running a secret Defence Against the Dark Arts club and trying to figure out what You-Know-Who is up to, Harry also finds time for a spot of romance, as he finally shares a kiss with the object of his affections, fellow student Cho Chang (Katie Leung).

But the trouble starts for Harry even before term begins; attacked by some dementors near Privet Drive, his use of the Patronus Charm to save himself and bullying cousin Dudley results in him being forced to attend a hearing at the Ministry of Magic in front of the Minister himself. Despite the Ministry not appearing in that many scenes, the set was fantastic, and the sight of hundreds of Ministry workers arriving at work by Floo powder was just one of the many scenes in the film where amazing special effects are used to create that magical feeling we all love in the films.

Phoenix introduces several new characters, including Dolores Umbridge, Harry’s new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, who is sent by the Ministry of Magic to start interfering at Hogwarts. Played perfectly by Imelda Staunton, Umbridge is a deliciously monstrous character in a fluffy, candy pink wrapper, and detention with her makes detention with Snape look like a game of Quidditch. (Incidentally, something which there sadly wasn’t time for in the film.)
Evanna Lynch makes her screen debut as the dreamy Luna Lovegood (and does a good job), and Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of the evil, twisted Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange is startling close to how I imagined the character when reading the book.
The tension mounts as Harry suffers from nightmares and visions of Voldemort, and must lead his friends on a dangerous mission to the Ministry of Magic. The action culminates in a high paced and exciting sequence deep within the bowels of the Ministry, where lives are in danger and Harry must come face to face once again with the evil wizard who murdered his parents.
Despite my love of anything Harry Potter, I always approach the cinema to see these films with a certain amount of doubt. After elements of the previous films annoyed me, with the way that things were changed and cut to alter events as I know them, my feelings of excitement were mingled with the fear that certain events would have me shaking my fist angrily at the screen. After all, the cutting down of Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the series, wasn’t done as well as I’d hoped, with certain scenes making me physically cringe – and that was 631 pages. So whether director David Yates could improve on the last film (directed by Mike Newell), I didn’t know – after all, at 759 pages, Phoenix is the longest Potter book to date. But I need not have worried. Phoenix was, in my opinion, far and away the best film yet.

Of course, much had to be cut, but the film still worked perfectly – unlike in previous films, I didn’t feel that any scenes were rushed or poorly explained. The plot moved seamlessly, the action was well paced, and there was enough humour sprinkled throughout to stop the dark nature of the film overwhelming the audience with depression.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix really does have it all; mystery, suspense, excitement, humour and romance combine with some moving scenes between Harry and his Godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) and fantastic special effects (the duelling scenes are spectacularly well choreographed and executed) to create a film that is definitely worth seeing. If you’re a huge fan of the books like me, set your reservations about mangled adaptations aside and get ready for a fantastic treat. And if you haven’t read the books, shame on you – but I guarantee you will still find this film an enjoyable and magical experience.

© Gemma Ayres July 14th 2007>
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Gemma is a recent graduate from the University of Portsmouth Creative Arts programme


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