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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


A Harry Potter timeline (Warner Brothers)

Grab your wand and broomstick, it's time for wizards and witches to head back to school for the fifth and latest installment of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione head to Hogwart's for their fifth term as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (opening July 11 throughout San Diego) takes to the screen.

As the fifth Harry Potter film arrives, it's difficult to remember back to a time before the young wizard dominated pop culture. Harry Potter was created by British author J. K. Rowling. Her seven-book series began with Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone in 1997, and was followed four years later with a film adaptation. The story involved an orphaned Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe in all the films to date) being left on the doorstep of an aunt and uncle who forced the boy to live in the cupboard under their stairs. On his 11th birthday, Harrys fairy godmother arrived in the form of a hulking giant named Hagrid (Robby Coltrane) who made the announcement that Harry was a wizard and must now come to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for proper training. At school Harry befriended Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). Each subsequent book and film took the trio on another year of training and another, increasingly dark, adventure.

The Potter books and films have such a devout and large following around the world that it's easy to forget some of the early controversy. First, there were objections by some adults about the books use of wizardry and sorcery. There were even calls for the books to be banned from schools and libraries. But those complaints died down or were ignored as book sales soared toward 100 million (sales are now past 300 million) and kids eagerly awaited each new volume. And anyone who doubts the existence of magic should consider this: any author who can make a young child stop watching TV or playing video games long enough to read a 900-page book, must know a little something about casting spells.

Then there was the controversy about the very British books being brought to the screen by a bunch of Yanks. But writer Rowling negotiated a deal that gave her considerable control over the production. As a result, the film versions of the Harry Potter books have displayed considerable fidelity to the text per Rowlings instructions, and a spot-on casting of British veterans and newcomers. But when the books are each hundreds of pages long, you know something's gotta go when they make the jump to the big screen.

In the latest adventure, The Order of the Phoenix, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts for what proves to be his most difficult year yet. Harrys claims of having confronted Voldemort are met with skepticism by the powerful Ministry. Ever since a student's death at the end of Harrys fourth term at Hogwarts, the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy) has been denying the return of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Others seem eager to believe him because no one wants to see the dark wizard return. Fudge's insistence on this point of view has put him in direct conflict with Dumbledore (Michael Gambon who took on the role in HP3 after Richard Harris passed away). Minister Fudge thinks Dumbledore is just maneuvering for his job, so the Minister has been using The Daily Prophet to spread negative stories about both Dumbledore and Harry. To make matters worse, the Ministry, has assigned Professor Umbridge (Imelda Stauton) to Hogwarts where she will be taking over Defence Against the Dark Arts classes. With the covert help of the Ministry she makes a grab for more and more power, and saddles the students with one regulation after another.

Linda Mangels
July 14, 2007 at 09:35 AM
Thank you for, without a doubt, the most clear, thorough, informative and (in my opinion) accurate review of Order of the Phoenix, thus far. I saw the movie last evening and, it was fantastic! I have read the book (as well as 1-4) and this movie did, indeed, stay faithful to J.K.'s story. I was concerned, because I loved the book, that I may be disappointed but, as I said, it was all that I hoped it would be. Thanks again. LM -----

July 16, 2007 at 04:57 PM
hi, thanks for the review, but "snape gets even some extended scenes"? i think it is less than a minute screen time for the professor this time!!!!!!! Ciao rosi

July 16, 2007 at 06:23 PM
I cant wait to see Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix. It sounds so good.

July 18, 2007 at 06:35 AM
I think this was an excellent review! I saw the movie about 3 days ago, and I plan to go again this weekend. I searched the web for reviews, to see what others thought about it, and this is by far the best review I've read yet! I have read all the books, and from reading ahead of you, I can say that I love Alan Rickman, but HATE Snape! Guess we'll have to wait on Book 7 to learn if that hate is warrented or not. Also, I agree on the aspect that for once, it wasn't all about the effects. Some people think that to have a good movie these days, you have to have good effects. That may be true for other movies, but for movies like the Harry Potter series, that are coming from published books, it should be more about the storyline. I know that as a reader, I like to see the book come to life in a movie so that I can compare, or say "Hey, that's how I saw it happening too!" The first couple of movies bored me, to the point where if I hadn't read the books, I might not have been interested in seeing the other movies when they came out. They focused too much on the effects, which honestly weren't that good to begin with! There were many scenes where I felt as though I was watching a cartoon! Anyway, great review and can't wait to see the movie again!

July 18, 2007 at 09:54 AM
i'm a big fan of harry potter i just love the film it's like a mixture of adventure and comedy and tradgety at sometimes i do a lot of research on the internet about this movie becuase i would love to experience what Daniel,Emma,and Rupert experienced i would love to act while im still young since i just turned 11 on april the 14th but the opportunity seems like a mieracle to come true because i live in lebanon and i hope that the legend of harry potter will continue till the end.

July 18, 2007 at 11:22 PM
I disagree with your oppinion. I cannot tell anything about the actors, because they're all great. But the film in a whole way is poor. Is a shame you haven't read the books, because you cannot understand why I think like this. The movie jumps so fast from one scene to another, and there are so many things that are missing... things that we, the fans, consider important and really wanted to see. The worst thing it that the movie didn't make me feel anything at all... With the book I hated Umbridge, I was afraid of Bellatrix, and I cry with Sirius death, but the movie was... well... nothing like that. (The previous one where much better) Please, read the books... and then, let us know what you think.

July 19, 2007 at 11:41 AM
Not focused on special effects? Extended screen time for Snape? There were such big holes in the story that I could have driven the Knight Bus through them. The screen adaptation was absolutely dreadful. I'm not sure we even saw the same film.

Beth Accomando
July 20, 2007 at 04:09 AM
Remember that the comments about not focused on effects and more screen time for Snape were made in reference to how this film compared with the others. Snape doesn't get a lot of screen time in OTP but it is more than in the last couple installments. If I were making the films, I'd give him a lot more screen time but that's me. And the effects were placed less in the foreground here than in the other films. As for reading the books, yes I will after the films have all come out. I understand fan frustration with the films having to leave so much out. But at this point I feel like I want to review the final two films without having the preparation of having read the books. It gives me a better sense of whether the films can stand on their own. On the down side, I can't comment on their faithfulness to the source material. Thanks to all for posting.

Ken Maltby
July 20, 2007 at 11:44 PM
An excellent (and unbiased) review. Unfortunately this series of films generates a lot of passion that isn't always kind. Your review did a lot to restore my faith in reviewers for this film who generally seem to have an axe to grind. My personal thoughts on the film were that, as always, they couldn't get all the fun of the book onto the screen, but they did one of the best jobs so far in this series. I came out of the theatre having thoroughly enjoyed myself, with others who obviously did too.

James Gardner
July 23, 2007 at 03:27 AM
What is your source that Kloves will be directing the seventh Potter film? He does have minimal directoral experience, but it would seem surprising for Warner Bros. to hire him as director as well as writer. Considering the amount of media attention giving to Harry Potter, it seems odd that something as major as the identity of the director of the seventh film would be casually name-dropped in a review from a local radio station. Warner Bros. has made no official announcement on the seventh film, aside from the casting of the three lead characters. In fact, it has not even been confirmed that Kloves will be the screenwriter of the seventh film, though it seems likely. It certainly seems that a university radio station ought to know how to cite sources for important information.

Beth Accomando
July 23, 2007 at 06:54 PM
IMDB Pro had listed Kloves as the director and writer for the final Potter film but information about future films is always in flux and when I checked today, there was no longer a director listed at all and Kloves is no longer credited as writer. But the final film has not yet begun to shoot so anything can happen. Kloves as writer and Yates as director are still being listed for the next Potter film.

July 28, 2007 at 03:57 PM
i read the books and i have to say they left so much out like how a named Marianne, she was the one who told on Dumbledore's Army. Hermione put a spell on whoever told on the Army, but instead the made Umbridge find it. also, Harry and Cho Cheng were supposed to break up because Cho saw Harry talking to Ginny too much because they secretly liked each other. i just hope in the next movie that they don't leave as much out

August 01, 2007 at 04:10 AM
I am an avid fan of the books and I just saw the movie. I have a few questions for the screenwriter who decided to re-write JK Rowling's masterpiece and leave both me and two of my friends (who did not read the books) confused about their new storyline. (strictly the movie...) 1. Why would the movie change the story to ALL students being punished by writing bloody "lines"? instead of just Harry as the way it was in the book? I would think the parents of those students hurt, would have something to say about that! Maybe even pull them out of the school (why even open that can of worms?) 2. Why would the movie show Dumbledore coming back to Hogwarts to save Prof. Trelawny and not explain that it was HER prophecy Voldemort wanted? ACCORDING TO THE MOVIE he cared more about a roof over Trelawny's head than all those children who now have permanent scars on their hands. 3. Why would the movie omit the connection between Sirius and the Malfoys/Slytherin? They showed Sirius' family tree. Where was Narcissa? What happened to Kreacher's betrayal? 4. In the book it PAINED Voldemart to posses Harry. In the movie Harry NEEDED Dumbledore's pep talk to HELP him evict Voldemort from his brain (or whatever) I had to explain to my friends that SIRIUS and the Order did not use Harry to get the Deatheater's to the ministry at the end of the movie. (It appeared that way to them) Changing/altering a storyline to make it FACTUALLY INCORRECT is the only thing I will ever complain about. Harry Potter will always belong to JK ROWLING. I would think the most thankless and anonymous job in Hollywood is to be the screenwriter for a Harry Potter movie. I'm sure he couldn't resist trying to rewrite it some way. But this was just bad.

Beth Accomando
August 01, 2007 at 04:30 PM
MKaye, I understand your frustration and I think it is the frustration that every reader of every book adapted to film goes through. I'm not defending any of the changes made but I will point out that films because of length always end up shortening and simplifying their source material so something had to go. As for changes, any changes made, Rowling did--as far as I know--still have final approval on the script. I tend to look at movie adaptations of books as visual companions and that tends to help me overlook certain flaws in films. Even when I like the film adaptations--as with The Godfather, The Right Stuff-- I still feel that something is always left out. At least with Harry Potter there is an attempt at being faithful, unlike with the film version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. You can try sending your questions to the studio if you'd like them forwarded to the writer, but the chances are slim of getting a response: Warner Brothers Harry Potter Film 4000 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91522-0001 Thanks to you and everyone else for posting.

James Gardner
August 05, 2007 at 05:12 PM
IMDB is not a reliable source for information on movies when no official announcement has been made. Like Wikipedia, the open-editing allows all sorts of incorrect information to be posted.

Beth Accomando
August 06, 2007 at 05:10 PM
James, Yes you are right but to be honest there is NO reliable source for information on movies when they are still in pre-production. Even studios have been wrong about their own films. So it was my bad for even mentioning the possibilities about the final HP film. Although it did make sense--studios sometimes "reward" someone like a writer by allowing them to move on to directing after putting in time on other projects, so Kloves directing HP7 seemed reasonable. Oh well, all we can do is wait and see what happens. Thanks to all for your comments.

August 25, 2007 at 04:16 PM
hi harry potter you are so cute

August 25, 2007 at 06:25 PM
hi harry potter you are so coooool

Elizabeth Fontaine
August 28, 2007 at 11:18 PM
I agree with Ceywen. I too read the book first, and was very dissapointed in the movie. My husband does not read the books, and he kept asking questions during the movie because it jumped around so much. They almost deleted the whole last scene with Dumbledore, explaining pertinent information to Harry. I felt cheated upon leaving the theatre!

December 20, 2007 at 06:15 AM
I totally disagree with your comments!! HP5 sucked!It seemed like there was no plotline to the movie. The story jumped from one idea to the other. And dude, you have GOT to read the books. they are like a hundred times better than the movies. The book describes more about how the characters feel like, whereas the movie skips all that, which is what like 1/2 if the book is about.

Beth Accomando
December 20, 2007 at 06:26 AM
I do agree with on the fact that I should read the books. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one but just haven't had time to catch up with any of the others. Thanks for the post.

December 20, 2007 at 06:28 AM
I agree with Richard, HP5 did suck. (AND I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT DANIAL RADCLIFFE SMOKES & DRINKS!!! HE'S ONLY 17. AND THE LEGAL AGE TO DRINK IS 21 & THE LEGAL AGE TO SMOKE IS 18!!!! he should get arrested for that) And by choosing to smoke & drink, he sets a bad example for kids.