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By Sam Rubinroit, 14, Malibu HS

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix definitely lives up to all the expectations. Unlike many of the other movies, this one adds a slight twist of humor, making it all the more remarkable.

Everybody knows Harry Potter. There are six books in the series out so far, and more than 325 million copies have been sold in 63 languages. The author, J.K. Rowling, is the highest-earning author in history. Now, with the fifth movie and the seventh and final book being released within 10 days of each other, the money and popularity will keep rolling in. All of the movies so far have ranked in the top 20 of the highest grossing films.   

In the movie, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is portrayed as an ordinary teenager with extraordinary problems. From the opening moments of the film when he is fighting with his cousin Dudley and rehashing the death of his parents, they all allow Harry’s human side to emerge. However, the movie is much more than Harry wallowing in self-pity. He decides to take action to fix the troubles facing him.

Harry must attack his struggles by himself, as he and Dumbledore, the principal of Harry’s school, are being ostracized for their beliefs in the imminent return of Voldemort, the Dark Lord. Although Dumbledore is one of the only ones who shares Harry’s belief, Dumbledore strangely distances himself from Harry. From being on trial for using magic in front of a muggle (a normal person who doesn’t know magic), to adjusting to a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher with a “unique” teaching style, Harry must rely on himself and only his closest friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). They take matters into their own hands by creating a group of loyal students, and teaching them how to defend themselves against the Dark Lord and his followers, contrary to the wishes of the new Dark Arts teacher.

The film climaxes as the Dark Lord sends Harry visions of his godfather being tortured to lure Harry into a fight. When Harry goes to save his godfather, he sees it’s a trap set by the Dark Lord. Together, with the help of a secret society known as The Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his friends battle the forces of evil, although not all of them make it out alive. During the battle Harry discovers a prophecy that explains his connection with the Dark Lord.

As many have read the series, it is hard to live up to the book and the expectations that it brings. People have come to expect dazzling special effects, while still keeping the human element intact, and the movie does an amazing job with both. The best part of the movie was seeing it at an IMAX theater, and that the last 25 minutes were in 3D. Shards of glass, winged horses and eerie charms all passed by my head, putting me in the middle of the action. If you are going to see the movie, the only way to see it is in IMAX 3D.

With the new characters and the exciting action, and with it also taking place in 3D, I would say that this movie tops the others. It is being shown in IMAX 3D at the Universal City Walk and the Bridge Theater. The movie will constantly keep you on the edge of your seat, and you never know what is coming next, even if you read the book.

By Gabe Andreen, 14, Pilgrim School

Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix is by far the best installment yet. I didn’t want the movie to end.   

As a near-scholar of Harry Potter, one thing that bothers me is that chunks of the books are often missing from the movies, but the newest installment eliminates these gaps. The only parts missing were a small scene at the beginning, Quidditch and a romance between Harry and Cho Chang. I enjoyed that the moviemakers kept the movie very close to the book.

When the movie starts, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his cousin Dudley are attacked by Dementors, soul-sucking demons, and Harry has to cast a spell to protect himself and Dudley. However, it’s illegal for wizards to use spells in front of Muggles (wizard slang for humans) or outside of their school. Because Harry breaks both of these rules, he is briefly expelled from Hogwarts. He is cleared within two days but there is a judge at his hearing, Dolores Umbridge, who later comes to Hogwarts as the new teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Umbridge eventually takes over the post of Headmaster from Dumbledore, and is an oppressive tyrant who tries to brainwash Hogwarts students and hide the fact that Lord Voldemort, the most powerful wizard in the world, is back. Harry doesn’t like what Umbridge is doing and starts a secret club with Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) whose purpose is to learn defensive spells and spread the fact that Voldemort has returned.
As the title implies, there is an Order of the Phoenix, a group of adult wizards sworn to destroy Voldemort and protect the world, as well as Harry, from Voldemort. But they can’t prevent a showdown. The most action-filled and exciting part of the movie is when Harry and his covert club battle Voldemort and his followers to discover Harry’s prophecy, which is hidden in the Department of Mysteries, deep inside the Ministry of Magic. Before the battle, the orb tells Harry his prophecy: that he and Voldemort can’t coexist; that is, one must kill the other.

After finding Harry’s orb, the group is surrounded by Lord Voldemort’s subordinates, the Death Eaters. Harry and his friends start casting spells and run. This scene was better than what I imagined as I read the book; the special effects made it feel real, like when the Death Eaters turn into black sand. Another cool part is when Ron’s sister shoots an explosion out of her wand, sending shelf after shelf of orbs crashing down, glowing ominously against the dark blue background.

At the end, someone close to Harry dies. Voldemort flaunts Harry’s loss in his face and vanishes, then the screen turns black. I liked the ominous ending. Unlike most movies leading to the next in the series, it didn’t seem like the only purpose of the movie was to set up the next one, although it did accomplish a setup.

Radcliffe is a really good actor and he has developed a lot since he was that little boy with the round glasses in the Sorcerer’s Stone. The entire cast, not just Radcliffe, was great actors. Not one line was cheesy. My only complaint is that there isn’t enough emphasis on the conflict between Harry and Voldemort as Voldemort tries to invade Harry’s mind. In the book, Harry has sympathy pains with Voldemort and has to take Occlumency classes so Voldemort can’t control him. These classes showed Harry’s struggle to try to keep his mind his, and although the movie still showed the struggle, more Occlumency wouldn’t hurt.

However, this didn’t ruin the movie. The Order of the Phoenix certainly lives up to the Harry Potter name and I can’t wait until the next installment.