What bugs me most about Order of the Phoenix is all the great actors that are in it, names like Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewlis, Ralph Fiennes, all together in one movie, but no… Hagrid’s retarded CGI enhanced giant brother steals the most screentime. That alone should condemn the movie but it is an adaptation and it must adhere to the source, frustrating and bloated as it is. When those actors are onscreen the movie momentarily elevates above the pedestrian direction and bland orchestration of the soundtrack.
The kids get all the acting fun. Or rather one, Daniel Radcliffe, who quite literally carries the whole movie as the incredibly depressed titular spellcaster. He really does a good job when all he does is look angry and pout. His emo glare could have been as hilarious as Tobey Maguire’s in Spider-Man 3. The guy’s grown into a fairly convincing thespian, a quick glimpse during a flashback of his younger self from the first movie shows how far he’s come. Sadly, co-star Rupert Grint, who should get a lot more work, gets the shaft once more, relegated to Harry Potter’s buddy who shows up once in a while to say something then leave again. Eventually everyone falls to the wayside, except Harry and Ralph Fiennes’ welcome return as Voldemort for a final display of CG wizardry and pyrotechnics.
Which is what Order of the Phoenix amounts to: two and a half hours of waiting for something to remind me I’m watching a movie about wizards and magic. Waiting for the next scene with Gary Oldman or Alan Rickman. It’s a decent flick but not as good as the two previous installments. A lot happens and a few new characters are introduced but none of it feels like the events they’re supposed to be, especially a character’s death that just. Sorta. Happens. If you blink, you may miss it. Which is a big problem. I don’t want to just watch the goings-on as they occur, I want to be engaged and this movie, beyond a few moments, failed to do so.
Order of the Phoenix is a disappointing sequel, a thankless one. That’s the problem with big long serials, eventually it’s going to feel like nothing more than an episode of TV. As it is now it is just one big set-up episode, a stop-gap between the next entry and finally, the conclusion of the entire show. Hopefully they’ll make those into the big event this one wasn’t.