Back to school for Harry and the like, but not before a bout of unwarranted anger toward those who hold him dear.

Harry is already in a foul mood from generally being a teenager, but add on a near-expulsion, and paranoia that his friends are ignoring him, and you get one powder keg of a wizard. Teenage rebellion goes into full force when the borderline fascist Dolores Umbridge takes over teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts and suppresses what the students ought to be learning, causing Harry to react by creating an underground anarchy/study group.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is pleasantly thrilling in a way that the other films in the series aren’t. It finally pushes Harry into a leadership role rather than being the brash a unpausing heroic type (but with extreme levels of teenage angst). The climax of the film is appropriately dark and suspenseful, offering among the most watchable wizard battle royals in the series.

Recommended for: Anyone who waited through four movies just to finally see a huge freaking wizard fight.

 


Voldemort is officially on a rampage, and Harry Potter is up there on his murder list.

During Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts, Dumbledore takes a specific interest in involving him in thwarting the Dark Lord. Between that, a new book that makes him a figurative wizard in his potions class and a new exciting relationship with his best friend’s sister, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince may be the most realistic portrayal of a high-school aged student in the Harry Potter series (but it’s a very low bar).

Michael Gambon takes a more prominent role as Dumbledore than in films past. While he doesn’t try to choke out Harry in this one, Gambon still meanders about the set as though he is wilfully pretending the director is absent. While the plot is lacking in substance and general excitement, this film sets the tone for the two-part finale to the series. It’s with Half Blood Prince that the main cast really come into their own as actors, too – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and even Rupert Grint give top performances, their best as their characters at this point in the series.

Recommended for: Anyone who tried to balance the schoolwork/extracurricular activities/romantic relationship trifecta in high school and found it draining, to say the least.

 

Categories: Movie Review

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