Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (2007, IMAX version) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Imelda Staunton
Director: David Yates

Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is back and he killed Cedric Diggory! Harry’s warnings though are strongly being discredited by the wizarding community, spearheaded by the Minister of Magic himself – Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy). The malevolent Dark Forces are relentlessly gathering strength and closing in, on Harry in particular, as Voldemort’s premeditated and orchestrated plan takes shape. Harry, his friends and associates (the Order of the Phoenix of whom both Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) and Ron Weasley’s parents are members) are increasingly being targeted.

In HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, the fifth instalment, Harry, Ron, Hermoine and their friends have all matured and are on the brink of adulthood. When Fudge appoints a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, Professor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), she deliberately sets in motion a damaging campaign. Misusing her authority and even inflicting torture, she curtails her students activities, privileges and most dangerous of all, their knowledge and usage of the Dark Arts leaving them vulnerable to attack. Her authoritarian crusade even extends to fellow teachers including Dumbledore himself, such is the power within her reign of tyranny that she has created for herself at Hogwarts.

Encouraged by Ron, Hermoine and Sirius Black, Harry starts to train a select group of volunteers from his friends and fellow students for the looming battle – thus Dumbledore’s army is borne.

In the IMAX version as Harry leads Dumbledore’s army into the climatic battle against the Death Eaters, the Order of the Phoenix joins ranks with Harry in the nick of time. It is this gripping 20-minute finale that has been transformed into IMAX 3D as Dumbledore and Voldemort ultimately face each other in combat – a battle that has been steadily simmering for five stories.

Expertly helmed by British director David Yates, who will also direct HARRY POTTER 6 (HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE) due for release in November 2008, this movie will keep its audience enthralled for all its 142-minute duration. Fans won’t be disappointed with the onscreen action and ever evolving story. Even the Dementors make a brief and chilly appearance in the opening sequence.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are excellent as always. It’s a pity though that all the build up to Harry’s first kiss with his first love, Cho (Katie Leung), all but disappears into thin air, as their budding relationship suddenly cools due to circumstances beyond their control.

Newcomer Evanna Lunch, who makes her acting debut as Luna Lovegood, became one of my favourite characters. She has a natural talent for acting and is a name to keep a look out for in the future.

The attention to detail, set pieces, cinematography and soundtrack all help to make the film extra special. Fans also might be interested to know that the Hall of Prophecies in the Ministry of Magic is the first ever ‘completely computer-generated set’ in a HARRY POTTER movie.

Such is the popularity of the HARRY POTTER films, you never tire of seeing them again and the IMAX’s huge screen really does do justice to this movie. For an awesome and truly unique experience, IMAX’s visual and auditory enhancements create an impressive impact that fans won’t want to miss, especially the closing climax with its 3D enhanced battle finale.

6 out of 6 stars