EVERYBODY loves a rebel and the recent Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film undeniably banks on this fondness as director David Yates unleashes the boy wizard’s defiant mettle against the establishment.

As the fifth installment from J. K. Rowling’s bestselling novel franchise, Yates takes on the Herculean task of squeezing a 700-page novel to a screenplay running 200 minutes while keeping up with the epic story’s pace.

The movie takes off as Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts troubled by reports of Voldemort’s return. But Ministry of Magic head Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy) convinces the whole community of wizards and witches that the re-emergence of the dark sorcerer Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is just a figment of Potter’s imagination and that Cedric Diggory’s death is an accident. Not able to kill the issue entirely, the ministry then decides to pry on Hogwarts and Potter’s life by appointing their very own Dolores Jane Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) as the new Defense against the Dark Arts professor. The appointed magistrate unreasonably straightens up every aspect of the academe from the students’ frazzled uniforms to the professors’ eloquence. She even ousts Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) from the headmastership and starts overhauling Hogwarts into what she believes is an upright institution.

As annoying as her chuckle, Umbridge’s iniquitous school regulations infuriate the whole of Hogwarts, not to mention the hell Potter goes through under her tyranny. The situation ignites the rebel innate in each of the young wizards, giving rise to Dumbledore’s Army, which Potter leads in chanting charms and spells that they would need to defend themselves against Voldemort and his cohorts.

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Amid the muddle within Hogwarts, the Order of the Phoenix, a group established by Dumbledore, strives to impede Voldemort from pursuing his evil plans of stealing the key to his immortality, a prophecy kept in the Ministry’s Department of Mysteries. Through actual premonitions, Potter predicts Voldemort’s devious plots and ends up with the rest of his friends fighting side-by-side with the members of the Order against the Dark Lord’s Death-Eaters.

Less broomsticks flying

While the thickest among the seven Harry Potter books, Order of the Phoenix is unexpectedly the shortest film adaptation, one attribute that could have hurt the movie.

Although the technical rendition is done in good taste, the movie’s climax showing the battle between Potter’s friends and the Death Eaters at the prophecy room is quite a letdown, lengthwise. This particular part could have been better developed.

Several parts of the novel are also disregarded in the movie. This Potter movie did not feature Quidditch and this might have disappointed a number of anticipating fans. The movie also has some slack transitions such as the abrupt and fleeting reappearance of Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) freshly wounded from the mountains. Potters’ occlumency sessions with Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) could have been also given better emphasis.

More wands up!

Mature and all-grown-up best describes Order of the Phoenix.

Provided with a plot that puts character development upfront into the limelight, the movie digs deeper into the novel’s eccentric personalities, not to mention the flabbergasting revelations included in this chapter of the series.

Order of the Phoenix presents an almost full-fledged wizard in Potter but at the same time conveying Potter as a teenager with raging hormones and infatuations to deal with. Radcliffe is successful in breathing more human emotions in the boy wizard and his angst is consistently justified in portraying a mistrusted and confused boy. The same thoughts can be said of Radcliffe’s supporting teenage casts such as Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively.

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Although not physically resembling the toad-like stance of Umbridge in the novel, Staunton convincingly does justice as one of Potter’s adversaries.

Evanna Lynch, who portrays the “loony” Luna Lovegood, relies on her sweet-sixteen aura to make the character easily likable. Despite the short exposure, Helena Bonham Carter shocks audiences with her frighteningly flawless interpretation of the Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange. Carter particularly flaunts her evil on the scene where she casts the death spell on Sirius Black (Gary Oldman).

Aside from the syrupy storyline, what separates Order of the Phoenix from its antecedents is its improved special effects and superb camera. The giant Grawp, the thestrals, the centaurs, and the dementors look stunningly palpable and real, thanks to the production’s incredible art direction and special effects.

For those who have read the novel first, watching Order of the Phoenix would leave them wanting to see more scenes realized out of the book. But overlooking the movie’s flaws, it is exciting that Rowling’s magical secrets are slowly coming clearer into the surface.

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