Sunday, 17 January 2021

Fifth 'Harry Potter' offers a darker world

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (Rated PG-13)


The darker tone that sets in with “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” has much to do with the fact that Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his classmates are facing the choices and challenges of young adulthood.


Without so much as one game of Quidditch, this fifth installment in the series leaves behind the adolescent exuberance and playfulness of the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which in turn is no longer a sanctuary for those eager to learn the magical arts. Villainy arrives in a form more sinister than that posed by Lord Voldemort, though he hangs like a black cloud over Harry’s every move.


“Harry Potter 5” begins with the end of another long, lonely summer at the Dursley household for Harry Potter as he awaits another year at Hogwarts. In defense against an unprovoked and inexplicable attack by two Dementors, Harry is forced to use his magical powers outside of school and in the presence of a Muggle, namely his obnoxious cousin. For this transgression, Harry is about to be expelled from Hogwarts in a kangaroo court orchestrated by the Minister of Magic.


Fortunately, Headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) intervenes with an impassioned defense, allowing Harry to return to school. However, much of the wizardry community believes that the story of the teenager’s recent encounter with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is an outright lie.


Once back at school and feeling ostracized and alone, Harry is beset by nightmares that seem to foretell sinister events. The return to Hogwarts makes the star student apprehensive and uncomfortable. Even Dumbledore is suddenly acting strangely distant from the confused young wizard. Only his longtime chums, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), stick by him.


Meanwhile, the Ministry of Magic, in an effort to keep an eye on Dumbledore and the Hogwarts students like Harry, appoint a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the extremely duplicitous Professor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton).


The arrival of Umbridge signals a new era of unbearable authoritarian rule at Hogwarts. Wearing a Cheshire cat-like grin and constantly pink clothes, the stout professor of Dark Arts is a reliable functionary who would have been at home in a totalitarian regime run by Stalin or Hitler. She’s a fanatic for rules and regulations which she imposes at the slightest whim, and has new edicts posted on the school walls at a speed that almost runs out of space.


The main object of Umbridge's wrath is Harry and she clamps down on him so hard that he becomes more isolated. Meanwhile, her method of instruction is to dispense with any useful teaching of magical arts. Then she begins getting rid of teachers sympathetic to the students, before ultimately confronting Dumbledore to assert complete control over the school.


Since the Umbridge method of teaching the course of defensive magic leaves the young wizards woefully unprepared to defend themselves against the Dark Forces threatening them, Harry organizes an underground rebel band. Meeting in secret and calling themselves Dumbledore’s Army, the students learn from Harry, Hermione and Ron how to fight back against the evil forces, something that will come in handy for the inevitable showdown with Umbridge on campus and the more sinister forces lurking outside the school.


So much of the plot is dominated by the reign of terror imposed by Umbridge that Lord Voldemort is almost an afterthought, though he does appear for a climactic battle scene. Due in part to the looming threat at Hogwarts, the movie allows for the friendship of Harry, Hermione and Ron to blossom with even greater importance for their own survival.


Another milestone is that Harry gets his first kiss, which seems almost quaint considering that Daniel Radcliffe appeared recently on the London stage in Peter Shaffer’s “Equus,” notable for the fact that the young actor was required to be fully disrobed.


As Harry prepares for the battles ahead, he is tutored by his godfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who reveals the existence of the secret organization of the Order of the Phoenix. The training that Harry and his pals conduct will prove most helpful when a big confrontation occurs in the bowels of the Ministry of Magic, where they face off with the insidious Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) and his odious henchwoman Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).


Fans of the books and the previous film installments should see “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” if only because it would seem too irresistible to pass it up. Anyone just now stumbling upon the franchise may not be so impressed, if only because the dark mood may not be terribly enlightening and the plot not so compelling as a stand-alone story.


Still, the presence of Imelda Staunton as the eerie and creepy Dolores Umbridge is a wickedly delicious treat. And speaking of creepy, one should not overlook the wonderful performance of Alan Rickman as the dreaded Professor Snape.


Tim Riley writes film reviews for Lake County News.


{mos_sb_discuss:5}

Upcoming Calendar

18Jan
23Jan
01.23.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
30Jan
01.30.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
6Feb
02.06.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
13Feb
02.13.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
14Feb
02.14.2021
Valentine's Day
20Feb
02.20.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
27Feb
02.27.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.

 

Memberships:

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.
Cookies!

lakeconews.com uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.