Sunday, August 7, 2011

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Review

Another year, another new British director, but David Yates stuck around to finish the series - known for his acclaimed TV character-driven dramas, Yates is an interesting choice, but he lands on a good tone for the final 3 (4) instalments of the series, and possesses a nice visual flair.  

Order of the Phoenix features one of the best performances of the series in Imelda Staunton's Dolores Umbridge, a poisonous combination of Margaret Thatcher & Joseph McCarthy. In an effort to quieten Harry & Professor Dumbledore's claims that Voldemort has returned, the Ministry of Magic loans loyal state servant Dolores Umbridge to Hogwarts as - you guessed it - the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor & Ministry watchdog. It is not long before she starts to take over, declaring war on anything suspicious. The embodiment of the cold heart of authoritarianism wrapped in a shell of pink & bubbly, she's all the more lethal for never letting the smile out of her eyes, even when her lips are spewing venom. Considering it was the follow up to her Vera Drake triumph, its a wonder she missed out on an Oscar nomination.

Phoenix triumphs with a stirring plot around the past & present band of underdogs coming together with a mutual sense of something being wrong with the status quo. In the past, the legendary Order of the Phoenix teaming up against Voldemort. In the present, Dumbledore's Army preparing for inevitable war despite the Ministry's ban on practicing defense against the dark arts. 

Gorgeous sets (the Ministry of Magic is a highlight), great cinematography, Harry's first kiss, the Room of Requirements somehow emerging as a compassionate - silent - character, a great climatic battle, and another tragic death add the icing to the cake. One of the highlights of the series.

Also fair to mention that Evana Lynch is pretty good fun as kooky Luna Lovegood.

Oscar noms: Curiously, none.