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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Wands and Phoenix Feathers

    The most famous boy wizard is all grown up.

    In ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,’ the fifth and newest film of the series, we see Harry’s first kiss, a whole lot of teenage angst, as well as the closest temptation to the dark side J. K. Rowling’s hero will have.

    The fifth film wastes no time in throwing us down into the action, where Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his bully of a cousin Dudley are attacked in a hair-raising scene by soul-sucking dementors in the suburb where they live.

    Harry saves them by conjuring up his patronus charm, which gets him into trouble with the Ministry of Magic for performing magic while not in school.

    For even in the wizarding world, there are laws. And in ‘Order of the Phoenix,’ we see that laws can change when the governing powers of Harry’s world refuse to acknowledge that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) the most powerful dark wizard to ever live, is back, as was seen at the end of ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’).

    At the same time that Harry finds out that the whole wizarding world, with the exception of his friends and Hogwarts School headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), believes he’s a lying fraud, he begins having surreal dreams about a long corridor and a mysterious door that he feels he must find and go through.

    This, and suffering through tormenting occlumency lessons from Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) to prevent Lord Voldemort from reading his mind, it’s not surprising that Harry has only time for one kiss from his long-time crush, Cho Chang.

    Consciously channeling the look and feel of 1930’s fascist Italy, as well as Fellini’s Roma and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, director David Yates, the newest directorial recruit to the series, helps recreate the feel of the book, which is by far one of the darkest.

    He also manages to streamline the book — also the longest in the series — by using newspaper clippings to cement together the Hydra-head of plot twists and characters of the story.

    Two new characters enter the series at this point as well. Chosen from an open casting call, Evanna Lynch was the lucky young girl chosen to play the eccentric-yet-perceptive Luna Lovegood, who brings out the whimsy and humor expected from the series.

    Oscar-nominated Imelda Staunton steals the show with her embodiment of the cruel and slightly deranged Dolores Umbridge, who comes to Hogwarts to teach — and take over the school with her Ministry of Magic initiatives.

    Armed with a deceptively girlish voice and Pepto-Bismol-pink outfits, Umbridge is both innocuous-looking and vicious, and her performance alone is a reason to see the movie.

    What with all the characters and story lines, which can be confusing for anyone who has never seen any of the movies or read any of the books, several characters are marginalized. Ron (Rupert Grint) mostly stands around with his mouth hanging open, and small-time villains like Snape and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) make limited appearances.

    Overall, however, Yates manages the balancing act splendidly, creating a film that can stand on its own, but still gives long-time book fans a film to be proud of.

    The seasoned British ‘royalty’ — such as newcomer to the series Helena Bonham Carter as the demonic Bellatrix Lestrange — put in strong performances, and the younger generation is at its best in ‘Order of the Phoenix.’

    The special effects — barring one badly done CGI character — are stunning, the landscapes breathtaking, and the story so much more than mere fantasy.

    Only a Muggle couldn’t enjoy it.

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