Indiana Daily Student

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (PG-13) A-

Review by a Muggle

For quite some time, I've been one of those people who feels that reading a book prior to watching the film adaptation can be disastrous. I never had any desire to read the "Harry Potter" novels, nor much interest in the films, until a friend's 7-year-old sister demanded I borrow the first film from her. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it, just as I've enjoyed every one of the "Potter" films since. Of course, I'll never forget seeing "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" at the midnight release. As the credits began to roll, the group of 12-year-olds behind me lamented, "Oh, they left out this and this and even this!" Who knew kids had such high demands from cinema? Then again, they didn't seem to realize that turning a 900+ page novel into a film requires a bit of trimming. \nWhile "Prisoner of Azkaban" was my favorite of the "Potter" films, "Order of the Phoenix" is a close second. Potter (Radcliffe) and the gang are a bit older, and now it appears Hogwarts is on the verge of civil war, all thanks to new teacher/dictator/Bush-metaphor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton, "Vera Drake"). She's ridiculously gaudy, with her ugly pink coats and mewing kitten plate collection, not to mention a major bitch who wants to take away all the freedoms the young wizards and witches used to have. To make matters worse for Harry, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, who is not nearly in the film as much as the trailer leads one to believe) is attacking him in his dreams and haunting him at every turn. \nSome have complained at the lack of magic in this outing, but for me it worked wonders. Finally, the series has come to a point where it must fully develop and mature these characters onscreen and thus prepare them for the battle at hand. It cannot be fun and games all the time for these now young adults. Most of the major players (Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, etc.) take the backseat this time around, allowing the focus to remain on the students. Oh, and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) is nothing short of fantastic here -- certainly my favorite character in the "Potter" assemblage. \n"Order of the Phoenix" is incredibly fun and entertaining, despite the serious attitude it so deservingly takes. You don't have to read the books to enjoy the films, and I fully plan on seeing "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" come 2008. I'd even jump at the chance to join Dumbledore's Army if I could.

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