This is the first Harry Potter film directed by David Yates, who will go on to direct the remaining films in the series. It was a surprise move as Yates was a TV movie director before getting the Harry Potter series. Yates however proved to be a perfect match as he has hit the perfect tone in his Harry Potter films, maintaining a perfect balance between wonderment, drama and thrills.
The movie is a wonder thanks in large part to Michael Goldenberg who was able to eliminate a lot of the weaknesses and focus on the strengths in the overlong book. The results are exceptional as Order of the Phoenix explores a Harry Potter who is struggling with the burning anger within himself.
The Order of the Phoenix opens in a park and the dementor attack that ensues has an authentic quality that the previous Harry Potter films did not have. This gives the film a different tone right from the start. David Yates is very good at handling the emotional material. The film features an inner struggle in Harry Potter who begins to question if he is turning evil. In a great scene Harry confides to Sirius that he fears that he is broken and becoming bad. Yates directs his actors in a way that allows them to emote these emotions on screen.
While Order of the Phoenix is not as visually dark as Goblet of Fire, it’s emotionally dark as Harry Potter is isolated much of the film. The government, the school and his classmates all look upon Harry with suspicion and even Dumbledore won’t interact with Harry for a great deal of the film. The movie also features the nastiest villain not named Voldemort in new teacher Dolores Umbridge. She wears a scary smile and dresses in pink as she administers a choking style of control over the children of the school. Her devotion to the government and vicious style of punishment (children literally etched words into their skin) are truly frightening.
Gone are a lot of the school style items, such as quidditch and class points, and the story focuses much more on the danger at hand. This helps push the plot forward. Fans of the book may bemoan missing moments as some of the fun moments are removed, the story is lean and the tension is ratcheted up without the extra subplots. The ending features a wizards duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore that is epic, imaginative and captivating. This duel finally expands on the single curse wand gestures that have been featured throughout the series and demonstrates what real wizards can do with their magic.
This was an expertly crafted film and adaption of the book. David Yates proved very quickly he was the man for the series and his work on the other sequels prove as much. What I also appreciate about the Harry Potter series is that the heroes pay a price in their battle with the dark side. Lives are lost and not just small characters unlike other films where the good guys don’t seem to lose. Each movie not only builds a greater depth to the world, they raise the stakes and the danger. Order of the Phoenix is the best film of the series to date adapted from my least favorite book in the series.
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Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.
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