BRUSH UP ON POTTER LORE BEFORE VIEWING
by Ray Baxter, senior reviewer
First off, I must admit I have never read any of the several Harry Potter books.
Accepting that I have this life experience deficiency, I've come to the conclusion that one can only truly understand and appreciate the Harry Potter movies if they too have the literary experience to go along with it.
This fifth movie in the series now has Harry Potter as a 15-year-old (played amazingly well by David Radcliffe, who turns 18 years old by the end of this month and collects a whopping sum of money for all his past work). This more mature Harry provides hints of rebellion in his personality that go along nicely with a more serious interest in the opposite sex.
All the important regulars have returned, including Harry's school chums Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint); the dark wizard Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes); Sirius Black (Gary Oldman); Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy); and Headmaster Albus Dumblefore (Michael Gambon).
Home for the summer, Harry is beset upon by some neighborhood bullies, including his cousin Dudley. Before he can fend them off, two dementors (evil flying creatures that guard the magical prison of Azkaban) show up to do them all harm.
Harry has no other choice but to use his magical powers to escape, although he knows that to use these powers outside the confines of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a violation of the school rules.
Harry faces expulsion with adult teachers and friends he did not know he had on his side.
Aligned against Harry is a new menace dressed in pink. Delores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) nearly steals the show as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.
With Ms. Umbridge telling her students that it is a lie that Lord Voldemort is back, she insists they follow her new rules.
How Harry, Hermione, Ron and their friends circumvent Umbridge and prepare for Voldemort binds them all closer in bonds of friendship.
As with the previous Potter movies, the special effects are excellent. This time you will experience flying on a broomstick over the city of London at night.
Anyone who has been a follower of this series will certainly enjoy the story of "Order of the Phoenix" as an equal to its predecessors. For the uninitiated, don't be surprised if this movie has you baffled. The only solution to this dilemma I can suggest is to bring with you to the theater, a young teenager who can easily explain everything.
ENJOY A LITTLE SUMMER MAGIC
Lucy Schouten, teen reviewer
"Owls!" cries Vernon Dursley, as winged messengers soar into his kitchen, once again mixing his own impeccable muggle life with the wizarding world of his nephew, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe).
This July, muggles across the globe line up at movie theaters and bookstores for their tickets into the fantastic magical world, but they need not worry about their kitchen tile. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" blazed in with record heat, though perhaps, given the title, Rim Country will not be too surprised.
Anyone who has read "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" knows the plot line, but, obviously, the movie features a few differences.
I felt right at home in the opening scene, and I wondered why I needed a movie to see dead grass, parched fields, 100-degree heat and endless sunshine!
The mood soon becomes darker and more magical as dementors (Dementy-whatsits? Demontoids? Dismembers?) soar into 15-year-old Harry Potter's neighborhood, bringing with them a literal and figurative storm.
Harry's successful fight with the dementors earns him a hearing with the now paranoid and decidedly unhelpful Ministry of Magic. With the help of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, (Michael Gambon) Sirius Black, (Gary Oldman) and the Order of the Phoenix, a secret anti-Voldemort society, Harry returns to Hogwarts.
Upon arriving at school, Harry realizes to his dismay that Dolores Umbridge, (Imelda Staunton) a cruel ministry official, has begun taking over. The conflict rotates from Harry's battles with this truly evil Ministry representative to Harry's battles with himself.
The representation of the internal conflicts astonished me, for the book really pivots on importance of love and friendship, and how a person's decisions affect their character.
A couple of new characters are introduced. Evanna Lynch is splendidly cast as student Luna Lovegood. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, a dreadful villain.
For nonstop action, the final duel is amazing.
The newest and darkest of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter films is very intense, and I do not recommend it to children. However, anyone ready for a seat-gripping standoff of good and evil will find that "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is "just like magic."