Sunny, hot, no chance of rain.
That doesn’t sound like England. Something is clearly amiss, and a scant few in the wizarding world are brave enough to believe what it could be…
The Dark Lord is back. The Goblet of Fire opened a lot of doors and The Order of the Phoenix cautiously begins to stick a toe through them. We know that Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), know it. Even Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) knows it. But no one else outside of their immediate circle dares to acknowledge The Fact That Must Not Be Confirmed. They prefer to live in ignorance rather than embrace the possibility that the world will fall into irreversible ruin and the foundation of their lives will change forever. Voldemort is the magical equivalent of Global Warming in the early 2000s. The Order of the Phoenix is less about solving a mystery or uncovering secrets of the past, and is more about Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore trying to push past the Ministry of Magic’s muzzles and convince the magical world that the time for action was, like, yesterday.
Based on the testimony of other characters, I assume Dumbledore is working very hard on the cause. At front of house, however, we barely see him. When Dumbledore does descend from his high tower he is grumpier than a hedgehog at high noon. In fact, The Order of the Phoenix shows a generally grouchier, more solitary group than usual. Harry’s all about doing things on his own, while the perfect new addition, Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), has a knack for ruining nearly every social situation. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) caps it all off with a warm and welcoming, “Get. Out.” Fifteen is a hard age for everyone, but The Order of the Phoenix reaches shoulder-deep into a cesspool of responsibilities, angst, and rabid PMS.
Along with Luny Lovegood (serious props to the casting department here) we have the latest Defense against the Dark Arts teacher: Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). Never have pink, kittens, and teaspoons of sugar felt so utterly sinister. Umbridge demonstrates what would happen if Hogwarts was run by the government. She also prudishly shows us what Barbie would look like should she ever age past 50.
Amidst all the cheerlessness of The Order of the Phoenix we have Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), the cool kind-of-uncle who, through a series of strategically placed winks, makes you feel hopelessly attached in a matter of minutes. We barely know this character, save for one dramatic, Prisoner of Azkaban conclusion and one Goblet of Fire ash-face in the fireplace, yet you can’t help but care for the lovable rogue. Sirius quickly becomes the one bright light in Harry’s miserable, lonely, emo life.
The Order of the Phoenix opens more doors still, inviting you to peek at all the possible dangerous paths that await Harry and his pals. The compelling, dramatic conclusion mixes imaginative special effects with fun/deadly wand-whipping sounds and emotions of epic proportions. The deeper we delve into this Harry Potter universe the more feels we end up with. It’s like slowly wading into the deep end. The Order of the Phoenix is definitely the mopiest of the Potters, but you have to respect it as a pretty accurate depiction of age fifteen; it’s a total drag. In the end (and it was a damn exciting, regretful end) The Order of the Phoenix deserves an 8/10.