Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (David Yates)


It has been quite obvious that the "Harry Potter" film series has gradually became darker and darker the same time when its main stars grew older and taller. This change of thematic tone is given for such a series of far-flung magical mythology because as film viewers, we can't stay with what's merely colorful and limited forever. We can't indulge ourselves with wondrous flying cars and levitating spells for a long time when there's the Dark Lord himself and some Dementors somewhere out there.

So if "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" clearly is the prelude to the series' descent into narrative darkness and character complexities, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is the further sustenance of this said transformation of tone. Throughout the film, we see scenes completely colorized with blue, signaling an impending, higher conflict. While the characters, especially Potter himself (Daniel Radcliffe really reminds me of Keanu Reeves' acting chops in many scenes), who is drawn into a psychological torment/mind games with 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named'.

Then ironically, Sirius Black, played by the ever-disturbingly brilliant Gary Oldman, whose roles of marauding villains completely overwhelm his resume, is surprisingly the lighter part of the film as Potter's father figure in the middle of an escalating tension. The previous installment, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", is a very action-packed film that was although justified in its action sequences by the mere Triwizard Tournament, translates the best into a good old blockbuster offering.

In contrast, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" lacks the action set pieces (except the climactic but short-lived Lord Voldemort and Dumbledore duel of contradicting elements) and the overall sense of story-telling vitality save for its slowly relishing and equally unnerving build-up into an ultimate encounter.

Even the bureaucratic theme in the film is little to no significance into the film's general 'awaiting a villain's return' tone except for the fact that this little plot line summarizes the Ministry of Magic's trembling fear for the overpowering Voldemort's revival of powers. Although I have to say that I immensely liked Imelda Staunton's effective performance as the dictatorial, Trunchbull-like Dolores Umbridge.

In the long run, what will generally matter is how the franchise has ended. There are some which have finished with high and flying colors ("The Lord of the Rings" saga and the "Star Wars" sextology), but there were numerous which have ended with bitter-tasting salvos (such as "The Matrix" and Christopher Reeve's "Superman" films). "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" will surely be remembered as that middle 'Potter' film which concluded with a high-powered encounter between two powerfully opposite wizards and an installment in the franchise with lots and lots of blue. Oh, and maybe as that film that contains an 'under a mistletoe' kissing scene for our beloved titular hero.


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