Harry Potter and the Order of the
July 2007 is turning out to
be the defining month of Potter-mania. The fifth film in the series is
being released and a mere week later the final book hits this shelves.
People are walking around talking about muggles, Valdemort and Quidditch.
Harry Potter has hit a peculiar place in the pop culture zeitgeist
in which it is almost everywhere.
Well, deep dark secret
time. I've never read a Harry Potter book. I did see the
first two movies, but missed the last two and haven't quite gotten around to
catching up with them.
This has nothing to do with
holier-than-thou-ness on my part, or even a lack of interest. I would
like to read the books and see all the films. Someday I suppose I
will. However, I am not currently indoctrinated into the cult of Harry.
So what am I doing seeing
the fifth installment in the movie series?
Okay, I know I'm not the
ideal reviewer of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for just
this reason. But, then again, maybe I am, just for the same reason.
I don't have any built up conceptions and beliefs. I can come to it
purely and see it just as a film, not as a part of a cultural phenomenon.
I was told by one of the
people I saw the movie with, a Potter fan, that Order of the Phoenix
is the darkest of the Potter novels. It brings out the shadows and the
hues in the brightly drawn universe of JK Rowling.
It does have, however, an
intriguing storyline, even if it does suffer from the inevitable middle-act
feeling of incompletion, doing dual duty as a bridge for the larger plot and
a stand-alone film.
Essentially, the Hogwarts
School is taken over by a government shill (Imelda Staunton) who essentially
outlaws the use of magic in this venerable Wizard academy. The former
head of the school, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), is removed, Professors are
fired for no apparent reason, students are heavily punished for insolence.
(Some of the political criticism, while certainly valid, feels a little
In the meantime Harry has
to find his own leadership skills and teach the others magic in secret,
while avoiding his nemesis, Valdemort (Ralph Fiennes) — who Hogwart's new
regime insist does not exist.
Some of the earlier
characters are given little to do (particularly Rupert Grint's Ron) and much
of the whimsy of the first two films is shorn away, but Order of the
Phoenix is a solid addition to the franchise.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: July 27, 2007.