Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix David Yates

Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix David Yates
Adaptation number five in the now concluded Harry Potter series (the books, not the films) once again sees a switch in the director’s chair, while battling the now mostly ignored problems of how old the cast members look versus how old their characters are, slicing down the narrative from the ever-expanding novels into film size and juggling the amount of time given to characters not named Harry. Still, adapting a series, especially a mega-series in full-stride, isn’t as easy as it might seem — the director is tasked with not mucking it up while also trying to improve upon what’s come before — but Yates (who’s helming the next instalment: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) handles these challenges well, for the most part. However, it’s unlikely we’ll see another film in the series like The Prisoner of Azkaban (directed by Children of Men’s Alfonso Cuarón), the best so far. Fans familiar with the Potter-verse know what to expect from Phoenix: Harry once again returns to Hogwarts, after being attacked in the Muggle world by the demonic Dementors. However, it seems no one is one Harry’s side (at least in terms of adults), as he’s ignored by Professor Dumbledore, persecuted by the Ministry of Magic and tortured by the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Dolores Umbridge (Vera Drake’s Imelda Staunton), all while dealing with the dark lord Voldemort’s re-emergence and training students to protect themselves from what’s to come. Credit to author J.K. Rowling for introducing one of the most infuriating and hateful characters yet (and to Yates for translating) with Umbridge, who attempts to cover her despicable nature with kindness, and who’s played to irritating perfection by Staunton. Other new characters are introduced (Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange), while supporting stars such as Alan Rickman (Snape) and Gary Oldman (Sirius) return. It’s unquestionably the cast that translates the Potter-verse so excellently to the screen from the page, as sometimes the CGI still looks a little too CGI (i.e., the Centaurs). In terms of extras, there’s no commentary but a few featurettes, including "additional” scenes, an exploration of the secrets fans may have missed from the previous films, as well as a tour of the set by Natalia Tena (Tonks). Even with the sacrificing of chunks of the novel and some of the iffy CGI, Phoenix continues to spin the magic expected from the series. (Warner)