Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Classes are back in session for yet another semester at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and already Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is swimming in trouble.
Uppity ups at the Ministry of Magic refuse to believe Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is back and in order to squelch any fears of his return, they've started a smear campaign meant to discredit both Harry and the school's headmaster Albus Dumbledorf (Michael Gambon). But the chief officer, Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy), and others in his organization aren't content to stop there. Worried about unrest among the aspiring magicians, the ministry implants one of their own as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
On the outside, Delores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) appears all pink and proper, yet inwardly she harbors a hatred for Harry and implements cruel, medieval punishments designed to bring him and the other students into submission. Introducing bland, Ministry-approved textbooks that teach only a theoretical knowledge of defense, she also leaves the apprentices utterly unprepared to ward off evil until Harry and his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine (Emma Watson) began secretly teaching incantations to the other students.
However, Harry isn't the only one casting spells in class. Smitten by the sly smile of Cho Chang (Katie Leung), Harry takes every opportunity to help her with her homework. Yet, after an awkward kiss-and-tell smooch between the two of them, the romance appears to be quickly doused as Harry is haunted by nightmares of impending danger.
Touted as the darkest Potter film yet, The Order of the Phoenix delves into the internal struggles of the tortured teen who is drawn to the dark side where occult characters are designing a gruesome end for the young wizard. Skeletal figures attempt to suck the life out of the boy while he-who-cannot-be-named fills the boy's mind with bloody images of injured and tortured friends. Misrepresented and shunned by many of his classmates, Harry battles the desire to give in to his evil thoughts and luckily, as in the past, he isn't left alone in his fight. Although the glamorization of wizards and witches is still at the heart of the story, this fifth screenplay continues to promote the concepts of friendship and cooperation among a core group of students and adults who face evil sorcerers in a war of the wands.
Six years after the first film was released, Harry Potter, older now and sporting whiskers, has changed considerably since his first day at Hogwarts. Yet while his growth spurt may be surpassing that of some of his viewers, older audiences may find only incremental developments in this rather uneventful chapter in the ongoing saga.