David Yates is the fourth in a line of directors who have been given the task of re-creating the world of Harry Potter. Yates unlike the previous directors of the franchise is a television director but is able to hold his own and create a film that keeps true to the series and likewise stand out. This film contrast to previous ones is less fanciful; the tone is much more serious and dark. The fifth installment is not as entertaining as the prior films but instead focuses on developing and creating a more complex world for its character. Harry is not as happy a person as in past films; he is constantly angry with everyone and fearful of Lord Voldemort, who keeps recurring in his nightmares. By far The Order of the Phoenix is the most mature of the series; despite the fact that one of the largest books of the series is condensed into a running time of 2:18. Most of the film focuses on the turmoil that Umbridge and Lord Voldemort are causing Harry. As the film begins to create a more mature Harry the secondary characters start to become less visible.
Though the secondary characters are not given enough screen time, the actors try to do their best with the time they do have. This installment seems to have a whose who of British thespians. From Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort), Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), to Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore) etc, create the supporting cast of this film. All of these actors are given minimal time on screen with the exception of Imelda Staunton, but they are able to inhabit their characters and turn out great performances. Staunton is perfect in the role of Umbridge she makes the audience despise this woman who disguises her menacing ways with her always smiling face and pink attire. Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) are back for the fifth installment but while Radcliffe and Watson are able to stretch their acting abilities Grint is not given the same opportunity. Watson, Radcliffe, and Grint have grown into their characters, and seem to be more comfortable in their roles. Overall Radcliffe is the most improved when it comes to acting. In the first four films the audience saw Radcliffe grow into the character, and in this fifth film he has definitely come into his own. He seems more secure with his acting, and shows more range than in the previous installments.
This film is visually the darkest in the series. The past films were brighter and more fanciful looking. Whereas the first four films hardly captured London, here the city is very visible. Another thing that differs from the previous films is the use of special effects. Here special effects are still used but are not as overwhelming as in the prior films. The Order of the Phoenix instead emphasizes more on developing the characters and setting a platform for the next part of the series.
Overall Yates has been able to create a more adult and darker portrait of this magical world in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The actors have grown up and with them so have the characters. Though not the best in the series this film is worth watching.
* * * 1/2
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