Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

July 22, 2007 - The boy wizard and friends band together to fight the forces of the dark lord, Voldemort, in this 2007 film. The main characters are back and some new ones are introduced, including Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).

Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book/movie in the series. It begins with Harry on summer break and being attacked by evil creatures. He uses a magic spell to defeat them, which promptly gets him expelled from Hogwarts. Thanks to Dumbledore, he's let back in, but that's hardly the end of his troubles.

Harry is haunted by visions of Voldemort. But, the folks at the Ministry of Magic are not immediately inclined to believe Harry's contention that Voldemort has returned. One of those folks is Dolores Umbridge, the new teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Not only is her teaching philosophy not very helpful to would-be witches and wizards, but she uses her cruelty and influence to drive out Dumbledore and take over as headmaster.

Harry and company must practice their defensive spells in secret. They'll need all their tricks to help Harry fend off Voldemort. He also gets help from the Order of the Phoenix, the group that helped defeat Voldemort the first time around. They win this battle, but not before Sirius (Gary Oldman) is killed and not before Harry learns that, in the end, he must either kill or be killed by Voldemort. Harry also learns that love can be cruel.

Overall review: ** Not a terrible movie, but it seemed a bit disjointed, which I think may be due to its position in the overall series. This one seemed to be mostly a bridge between the fourth film and the upcoming sixth film. In Order of the Phoenix, new characters tend to show up without much introduction or ensuing background. I suppose that's OK if you've read the books and know who they are. But, if you're like me, you wonder who they are and what their purpose is in the overall scheme of things.