Being the longest book in the series, The Order of the Phoenix obviously lacks on the silver screen; the previous four films have built up Harry’s feelings of isolation and anger but they’re never significantly explored further during the course of this film. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) grows increasingly frustrated with his public image, with many doubting his claims of Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) return, even though the young boy is plagued with surprise Dementor attacks, mind splitting images of death and other strange occurrences. However, a few do believe Harry and thus the Order of the Phoenix — a group of "good” witches and wizards — is created to prepare for the impending dark war.
Character development definitely takes a hit during the film, as does the reasonably complicated plot, but with the flick of a wand Yates figures out another way to approach the film. Using underlying themes as steppingstones from one scene to another, The Order Of The Phoenix highlights the importance of friendship and the family ties that bind. Most of the movie focuses on the Order, as well Dumbledore’s Army, a group Harry, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Grainger (Emma Watson) and a number of other characters, including the ditzy, airy and wonderfully acted Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), create to teach themselves defence spells.
Despite the uplifting themes, The Order Of The Phoenix is by far the darkest Potter film yet. Death, disappointment and tension abound; the action is kept to a minimum but the tension setting up an even more thrilling sixth movie is palpable within the characters’ darting glances and slow, mature realisations of what is yet to come. Although the film doesn’t end on a happy note, a little bit of hope twinkles through Dumbledore’s concluding words of wisdom.
There’s a lot left out of The Order of the Phoenix but the visual effects are stunning and the magic is as enjoyable as ever. Even if a few humorous classroom scenes are abandoned, just seeing those Hogwarts heroes come to life once again on the big screen will allow you to relive one of the most exciting books of the series. (Warner)