Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix

July 19, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Governor X

J. K. Rowling's teenage wizard is back, and this time he's depressed, angry, and horny for a chinese girl (hmmm, why would such a film speak to me???).

As you will recall, at the end of The Goblet of Fire, the evil Lord Voldemort resurrected and had his henchman/Ron's rat murder Cedric Diggory, the Tri-Wizard Champion from Hufflepuff. Harry battles the Dark Lord and fends him off just long enough to gather Cedric's body and return to the portkey that will take them back to Hogwarts.

Well, as it turns out, no one but Dumbledore really believes Harry. Ron & Hermione say they do, but one gets the impression its just to help Harry feel better. He's more alone than ever, and unfortunately for him, back with the loathsome Dursleys for the summer. Just as he's about to have a serious row with Dudley, the weather turns foul and two Dementors swoop in to attack. Harry fends them off with the Patronas Charm, but Dudley is a bit worse for the wear.

Back at the Dursley's, a letter arrives for Harry telling him that he has been caught conjuring the Patronas Charm off campus and in full view of a muggle, and as a result he is henceforth expelled from Hogwarts. Harry is devastated and sulks in his room, but soon Mad Eye Moody & his gang burst in and liberate Harry from his suburban prison. More good news for Harry: Dumbledore has managed to hold off his expulsion pending the outcome of a hearing at the Ministry of Magic.

Moody & Crew take Harry to the headquarters for the secretive Order of the Phoenix to wait for his hearing. Its a reunion of sorts as members of the order include the Weasleys, Professor Lupin, Snape, and most importantly Sirius Black. It seems the order had formed the last time the Dark Lord was loose and it looks like it may be time to reassemble if what Harry says is true.

Time for the hearing & Mr. Weasley escorts Harry there since he works for the Ministry's Muggle Relations Department anyway. Harry has to face the Wizengamot led by the Minister of Magic himself, Cornelius Fudge. In what will become a recurring theme here, they don't believe Harry's story about the Dementors until he and Dumbledore produce a witness to the attack. The Wizengamot acquits Harry allowing him to return to school, but not over the objections of Fudge and a particularly prickly woman named Dolores Umbridge.

Back to school, Dumbledore is making his yearly announcements in The Great Hall, and fuck, wouldn't you know it, that Dolores Umbridge woman has been named the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher; hand picked by Fudge to keep an eye on things as it will turn out. She quickly saps the fun out of the students' favorite class, announcing there will be no need to practice defensive spells since all of this Voldemort nonsense is precisely that, nonsense. They will instead be studying their text book and learning how to pass their O.W.L. exams, since learning how to pass the test is the point of school (No Wizard Left Behind?). Harry melts down faster than Mel Gibson on a California highway and shouts at her that he's telling the truth about Voldemort. She makes him come to her office after class for punishment, which in this case is writing the line "I must not tell lies" with a quill that simultaneously writes on parchment and painfully etches the line into your hand. This bitch has to go down...

After a confrontation with Gryffindor House Head McGonagall about this draconian punishment, Umbridge informs the Minister that things at Hogwarts are "far worse than she feared." Fudge names her High Inquisitor of Hogwarts and she begins to take over the school by interrogating professors & students and issuing decrees to make the school as dull as possible.

The students are officially done with this shit and Hermione persuades Harry to teach defensive spells to a secret underground group that will come to be known as Dumbledore's Army. Some of the kids like Ginny Weasley show a genuine skill at difficult spells like the Patronas Charm, but others like Neville Longbottom can't even handle easy ones like Expeliamus at first (naturally, he gets it eventually). Cho keeps screwing up because she can't take her eyes off Harry. She's a wreck because she likes Harry but was dating Cedric before he was murdered. Harry's a pimp though and gets himself some of that so-so Chinese-Scottish action.

After awhile, they're found out thanks to the help of Snape's truth serum on Cho. The students are all sent to detention with those agonizing quills and because of the name Dumbledore's Army, the minister comes to sack Dumbledore and send him to Azkaban for sedition (You see, the reason the Minister installed Umbridge at Hogwarts in the first place was because he thought Dumbledore only latched onto Harry's Voldemort story to take over the Ministry). He's not going quietly though and makes a fantastic escape with the help of his Phoenix. Umbridge is officially installed as Headmaster.

While all this is going on, Harry is having disturbing visions. It seems his mind is tied to the Dark Lord's so he can see what Voldemort is doing from time to time. He keeps seeing a particular doorway and for the longest time, he can't remember where he's seen it before. After a vision of Voldemort torturing Sirius Black, it finally hits him: The Department of Mysteries at the Ministry.

Dumbledore's Army springs into action and heads to London to save Sirius from Voldemort. They pass through the doorway to find a large warehouse of crystal balls, but no Sirius. Yes kids, its a trap. The Dark Lord is by now fully aware of the connection he has with Harry and planted this to lure him there. One of the balls contains a prophecy about the Dark Lord, but since it has Harry's name on it only he can here it. Voldemort wants it anyway. I'm not sure why, anyone not drooling on themselves and wearing mittens year round has figured out its all going to come down to Harry vs Voldemort in the end.

The Deatheaters, led by Lucius Malfoy, quickly swarm in and surround them. The teenage army does an admirable job fending off the Deatheaters for awhile and ultimately manage to escape having destroyed the entire crystal ball room...or have they? Of course not. These are 15 year olds up against Voldemort's own version of the Republican Guard. Don't be a moron. They're just in another room now. Fortunately, the Order of the Phoenix arrives just in time to continue the battle. Its fierce and one of the Deatheaters, Bellatrix LeStrange, kills Sirius Black with the killing curse (Avada Kadevra!) - not sure why people don't use this more often. It seems these fights would end sooner if they did.

Harry is destroyed by the death of his Godfather and chases LeStrange into the big hall of the Ministry taking her down with the cruciatus curse. He holds her there and we hear Voldemort telling Harry to kill her...its so easy. Then the Dark Lord appears and talks menacingly for awhile like a James Bond villain before launching his attack. Dumbledore conveniently appears via one of the Ministry's portals and defends Harry. Its a rough and tumble battle, and in the end, Harry and Dumbledore are only alive because the Dark Lord chose to leave them that way. Just as the battle comes to a close, Fudge and Ministry officials arrive and get a glimpse of Voldemort before he vanishes. FINALLY they're convinced...

Dumbledore is reinstated as Headmaster, Umbridge is sacked, and Fudge resigns. All is well for now, but shit is really going to hit the fan next year. Oh yeah, the movie was good: 8/10.