Year Five at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry sees Harry, Hermione and Ron deal with the fallout from ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, mainly the full return of Lord Voldemort. Dealing mostly with the debut of the titular Oder, ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ brings to light more of Voldemort’s connection with Harry while also dealing with the Ministry of Magic’s outright refusal to admit that the Dark Lord has indeed returned.
Once again featuring a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, one Dolores Umbridge who has been appointed by the Ministry itself, ‘Order of the Phoenix’ is really a story of how the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, does everything in his power to discredit both Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore. Fudge does not believe that Voldemort has returned and that Dumbledore is using these steps as a way to take over Fudge’s job.
Going in a darker direction from the previous ‘Goblet of Fire’, ‘Order of the Phoenix’ sees Harry teaching a fellow group of students spells and measures to protect themselves against the Dark Arts. This transpires as Harry deals with visions of attacks on members of the Order deep in the Ministry.
This film shows us the Ministry of Magic for the first time, and also gives us our first real look at a magic battle at the end of the film, as Voldemort’s Death Eaters try to secure a prophecy from the Ministry and face off with the Order of the Phoenix, resulting in death and our first look at Dumbledore’s prowess as a wizard as he goes toe-to-toe with Voldemort.
‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ really takes a giant leap forward from the previous film in actually giving us life and death situations that match all the stories that the films are telling us. While not a perfect film, it does give us enough to work with, and even more information on the pasts of key characters, such as Harry using the Occlumency spell on Severus Snape to see how Harry’s father and friends had bullied Snape.
With more information brought forward on the main characters, a full on final battle, and character defining deaths, ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ becomes the strongest of the films to date and a great build to the final three films of the series. The series finally seemed to have found its voice with new director David Yates, and the fact that he also directs the final three films is a great sign.
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