There are a few things that must be said right at the beginning of this review. One - if you are an avid fan of the Harry Potter books then you know what to expect walking into the film. You know that it is not going to be entirely true to the book, but for the most part things will be somewhat spot on. Two - if you have just read the fifth installment of the Harry Potter book series, you will want to wait a few weeks before you go see it. The main reason I say this is that right from the start, you will be bombarded with countless images you had while reading the book that don't exactly pop up during the movie. Then again, there really was so much going on in the fifth book I can see how hard it must have been to eliminate certain things from the film. I do feel confident in saying that this rendition will be the talk of the internet amongst Potter fans on how things were omitted or changed.
Now that those two points are out of the way, let's take a closer look at the fifth film in a franchise that has captured the hearts of vast arrays of generations and helped rekindle the love of reading among young people. The film began with Harry being confronted by his bully cousin Dudley who, after being absent from the last film and in a non-speaking role in the Prisoner of Azkaban film, will set people back a bit. It may even make some think that it is an entirely different actor filling the mass of Dudley. These opening scenes with Harry and "Dudders" show the obvious change in directors. Where the Goblet of Fire had the intimidating dark scenes, the Order of the Phoenix shows the muscles of David Yates' imagination for capturing the eeriness of the book.
Everything, from the coloring filters to the camera angles, enhances the movie experience of Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. This is only the beginning of how the film is improved upon the growing wizardry world. I must also state, before continuing on, that if there is a young one you know who is enamored with Harry Potter and begs and begs to see this film and if they are under the age of eight, they should not see this film unless they have a crystal-clear understanding of the differences between film and reality. Even then, I would say that this film is still too dark for some children. There are two reasons I say this. One is the viciously vile Dolores Umbridge that comes to Hogwarts to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. Her methods and mistreatment of Harry and the other students are some of the most coldly calculated misdeeds done to Harry in all his years at Hogwarts. The other reason concerns Lord Voldemort. Not that he is the main source of the darkness of the film, rather, the feelings and emotions that Harry himself treads through during the movie are on the verge of mimicking the dark lord himself.
These challenges of the character give Daniel Radcliffe the opportunity to prove himself as an actor. For the most part, I can say that he has the chops to prove himself outside the Potter films, but there is no denying that he has captured the heart of Harry, and that only increases with each film. In addition to Daniel, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who play Ron and Hermione respectively, have grown right along with Daniel in their roles. If anyone has had doubts as to whether these three should be allowed to continue on as the characters, they need only watch this film and see that they have become these characters and to have anyone else in the roles would be a disservice to the characters.
Still, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has faults. Those are mainly due to the book fan in me. However, I have to say that the pacing of the film is almost too rapid to follow the happenings of the film. Even if you know the inner workings of the book, there will be moments that you will be like "What just happened?" This becomes a problem later in the film while Harry and a few members of Dumbledore's Army are at the Ministry of Magic. Nevertheless, this fifth installment still sparks the imagination of the audience right from the beginning. What better way to get people excited about the seventh and "final" book into Harry Potter's quests into the wizard world? If the first film achieved the highest mark for being faithful to its source, then the fifth will sure receive the award for being the most exciting and equally controversial installment amongst fans in the series.
Let me say this about the human roles of the film. Initially, I was afraid that they would be treated as the stars and the harrypotter would receive the supporting cast roles of the film. Thankfully, this is not the case. The human characters are all likeable and equally believable. Once you see the film and see how many supporting characters there are, you will understand what a great job everyone did in their roles - they all feel very real. I think this is one reason that the humor in the movie works so well too.
Humor is sprinkled throughout the film and nothing seems overly contrived or forced. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone, so I will be vague, but there are several humorous scenes including, a very funny, but evil, Decepticon drone, Sergeant Lennox and crew are very witty in their dialogue and great delivery, including a scene of the Autobots "hiding" in a back yard and two hilarious scenes with a computer hacker, Anthony Edwards, that the FBI has taken in to custody. One very important thing that the humor does is strengthen the bond between Bumblebee and Sam. To point out a specific scene, after witnessing Bumblebee's transformation the previous night for the first time, Sam takes flight on his mother's pink bicycle as he is being stalked by "Satan's Camaro" (AKA: Bumblebee). Another scene shows Bumblebee working harder than any other car has ever worked to help the boy get the girl. Shia's dialogue and delivery are so sharp and spot on that it feels very much like the events in the movie are actually occurring.
Movie Score: 3.5 out of 4 Stars
Harry Potter Fan Score: 2.5 out of 4 Stars