I’ve been a little slow in catching up with Harry Potter – I only read the final book last year. I watched this film in case I made it to the theater for Half Blood Prince, but I guess I’ll be waiting for the DVD on that one too.
One of J.K. Rowling’s strengths with this series has been how the characters and plots mature from book to book. Although it’s now a problem for some kids who come of age to read the first book now that all of them are available, it worked very well for that group of children who matured along with the books. The Harry Potter films reflect this maturing as well. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, not only do Harry, Ron and Hermione continue moving through adolescent angst and the pangs of young love, but they also begin to understand more fully that adults – even Harry’s yearned-for and idealized parents – are flawed and fallible human beings.
Neither the book nor the movie is my favorite of the series, and that may well say more about me than about the works themselves. The whole Dolores Umbridge sequence is just too hard for me to take. For some reason – and I can’t recall ever experiencing anything even close to this – the unfairness and humiliation (to say nothing of the actual torture) that Harry undergoes at Umbridge’s hands are almost impossible for me to watch. Umbridge’s comeuppance at the end of the film doesn’t seem a strong enough recompense for her actions.
So, not my favorite, but we still get the charming bits of wizardry, some great broomriding, and the consistent performances of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson. Recommended for older kids, teens and adults.