Dark storm clouds and a prevailing sense of doom are everywhere at the onset of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” The coming events brilliantly set up the best film of the series to date as the embattled young wizard must face his fears and the formidable evil Lord Voldemort.
The latest film in the series showcases an ever maturing Harry, who is feeling isolated and confused after his battle with the evil dark lord and the loss of his friend, Cedric Diggory, in Goblets of Fire. Facing expulsion from Hogwarts, eyed with suspicion and ostracized by his classmates because of his claims about Voldemort, Harry is suffering severe self-confidence issues.
To make matters worse, he immediately clashes with his new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge. Like a twisted M&M candy, she is sweet on the outside while poisonous within. Umbridge immediately begins to strip every element of fun and joy from Hogwarts and its students.
Meanwhile, the news of Voldemort’s return has not gone unnoticed by a secret organization, the Order of Phoenix. Composed of friends of Harry’s late parents, they assist the young wizards in the ultimate battle.
When the dust clears, Harry will have to face down the ultimate evil. What will he do?
Director David Yates maintains the film’s continuity and gives it a more ominous tone than previous films in the series. The three principals, Harry, Hermoine Granger and Ronald Weasley, also acquit themselves well. But at the end of the day, audiences will continue to be wild about Harry.
Order of the Phoenix is the easily the best chapter of Hollywood’s most successful film franchise. With the exception of the James Bond series (which has had its share of ups and downs; remember Timothy Dalton?), the Harry Potter series is arguably the best film franchise to date. While many trilogies have suffered the further their stories have progressed (“X-Men,” “Spider-Man”), but like a well-oiled machine, Harry Potter continues to roar along.
With two books left to film, Harry’s adventures are sure to more exciting and intense. Where many summer releases are heavy on the effects and light on story, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the rare combination that handles both elements surprisingly well.