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THE TENTPOLE CRITIC: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!

By B. Alan Orange — July 11th, 2007

Movie PictureWhen I've reviewed Harry Potter films in the past, I have had a surrogate critic by my side. Someone who has read the books. Someone who is usually over forty and a woman. Why? Because middle-aged single women seem to love both the films and the books they are based on. Maybe its because its written by one of their peers. Maybe there's some sort of secret hidden vaginal rejuvenation spell locked deep within its pages. I know the movies have always made me feel a bit girly.

Seriously, if you're into cougars or silver haired foxes, and you need a communal meeting ground, go to a Harry Potter flick at one-thirty in the afternoon and take your pick. Accidentally spill your popcorn on one of the many single gals seated around you. You'll be sending videos into milfhunter.com in no time.

Regressing back a few steps, I usually have these "over-forty and lovin' every minute of it" ladies give me their opinion on the Harry Potter films, because they know this stuff inside and out. They can tell me if the latest installment is any good or not. Sadly, I had to go it alone this time out. I couldn't find any older women that wanted to watch the movie with me. And the one street person I found outside the newly refurbished Kwik E Mart in Burbank wasn't allowed onto the Warner Brothers studio lot. It's a shame too, cause that toothless ragamuffin looked desperately in need of some good old fashion kiddy entertainment.

Oh, well. I guess I have to go this road alone. I will firmly state that I am not in the cognoscenti of Harry Potter fans. And I think it's particularly useless to review these films in any context. They wear an undefeatable Kevlar critic proof vest. And the films are always beautifully made, despite what might be transpiring within their celluloid walls. Potter enthusiasts are going to love them no matter what I have to say. And that's the way it should be.

I guess.

Who am I to sit here and tell some six-year-old kid that his new movie sucks? When I was six, I wouldn't have listened to me. I would have just done a double shot of Bushmills and went on with about my business.

It's been six years since the first Harry Potter film premiered. Five films and one too many beers later, I still haven't bothered to buy, pick up, or crack open one of the books. I'm just not that interested in the written word. I'm much happier getting the diluted, breezy, Wizardry-for-Dummies version that is the film series. I'll admit, I have enjoyed the occasional Harry Potter film or two. But they're not really my bread and butter. Every single one of the movies looks the same to me. I can't really tell them apart. At all. Six years later, I still feel like I've just stared into a sand box for the past two hours when I leave one of these arborous things.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix left me feeling no different. I enjoyed it while it was on the screen in stops and starts, but I don't really remember much about the experience. It's kind of like starring into the sun for a while. You turn and blink, and there's that blinding orifice that rests on the inside of your eyelids. Burned there for what seems like an eternity.

The first ten minutes of this movie got me really excited. I thought I was watching something truly special. Harry saves his corpulent cousin Dudley from a dementor attack. The hues are delightful and menacing. The art direction has reached an all time high. And it's gorgeous to look at. A very scary opener that had me glued to my seat.

But then...

Harry gets his cousin home, and this flying letter with big Jomama lips flies into Potter's summer digs. The damn thing starts talking, and I was immediately pulled out of the picture. It's very stupid and brash. And I didn't feel it fit the overall atmosphere the previous Potter films had established. There are a ton of moments like this in the film. Moments that are supposed to be funny, yet the tone is off. It's played at an elementary school level. You kind of want the film to fall back into its dark roots whenever something "whimsical" appears on screen.

Most of the movie ebbs along at a dark blue gait. It's not necessarily fun, but that's what I liked about it. You can just feel Death creeping around the edges of the screen. I don't think I need to delve too deeply into the storyline. You probably all ready have it memorized by heart.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix pretty much picks up where Goblet of Fire left off. There's a new Dark Arts teacher named Dolores Umbridge that is a hoot. She makes for a great villain. And we also get to see Hagrid's brother, a retarded giant that lives in the forest and eats bicycles. Much of the running time revolves around Harry brooding and whipping his wand around. He basically forms an underground resistance army and teaches them the ways of the force.

I thought the end battle sequence was a little lame. I wanted more, but this is only number five in a seven part series. I guess, even though it is July, they are saving the big fireworks for 2009. If you didn't know, the new book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is also being released this month, on July 21st, 2007.

So, where does Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix rest for me? I'd give it five out of five tiny Joel Siegel hearts. I liked it just as much as all of the other films in the series. Though, I'm thinking I liked part four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the most out of any of the films. Other critics disagree, so maybe that's just me.

To recap, here is what I remember most about the past five Harry Potter films:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - I remember an ugly mongoloid ogre ripping apart a bathroom. And a bunch of flying keys. The rest is granules of harsh, tan-colored sand in my face.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - I remember Dobby the House Elf. Whatever happened to him, and why is he absent from the past three movies? I miss the little guy, and I think he's my favorite character so far. The scary little fellow gave me actually nightmares. "Master gave Dobby a sock!" That's classic dialogue writing right there.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - All I remember about this movie was that it was a scene-for-scene rip-off of Back To The Future Part II. One of my friends called bull schnozzle, and I cued both movies up side-by-side. They haven't doubted me about anything since.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - This was by far the most realized and exciting adventure in the whole Harry Potter franchise. I loved every minute of it, and actually watched it twice. Yet, all I remember are the brown and blue hues it locked inside my brain. I'm kind of itching to rewatch it right this second.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - What can I say? The giant with Down syndrome was hilarious. And I pretty much want to kiss Cho Chang, too.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opens today. Try and make it beat Transformers, won't you? (Trust me, it's the better film.)

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