Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Viewed – 16 May 2020 Blu-ray (A-Z Collection Challenge)

I had put the Harry Potter franchise on hold for a while now but having reached ‘H’ in my A-Z challenge I thought it was a good idea to pick up where I left off. This fifth entry in the celebrated saga has Harry returning to Hogwarts and facing a backlash following his involvement in Voldemort’s apparent return and the death of Cedric. With suspicion surrounding him and school headmaster Dumbledore, a new professor is brought on who proves a bit of a tyrant. However a secret society turns to Harry to investigate Voldemort’s plans and hopefully prevent a war.

The world of Harry Potter is again enchanting and imaginative. This entry reunites us with many likeable characters including Ron Weasley, Hermione and Hagrid. Imelda Staunton is also fun as villainous professor Delores Umbridge … however, the plot spends far too much time with this character wrecking havoc at the school and less on the Voldemort plot, leading to a deja-vu showdown against the dark lord that we’ve pretty much had in various guises for five movies now. Despite the stakes raising each time, it’s on a whole a concept that feels stretched out and repetitive. With that said, production values, atmosphere and effects work are all still great, and that showdown familiar as it is, is pretty bad-ass.

Radcliffe is on a whole, likeable but far from a gifted actor (even at this stage), his line-delivery particularly lacking emotional weight. Co-stars fair better, especially Emma Watson and Michael Gambon. However like most of the movies thus far in this franchise, there’s little that propels the story forward and is bogged down in unnecessary world building and throw-away side plots. I like this world and these characters quite a bit, but whilst this entry was indeed fun in places it was also quite underwhelming.

Verdict: Good

The Awakening

Viewed – 26 April 2012  DVD

In the wake of World War I the world is gripped in the mourning of loved ones.  A hoax investigator plagued by her own demons, is called to an elite boarding school where sightings of a child ghost have the occupants fearing for their lives.  The simply gorgeous Rebecca Hall, hot off playing hostage to Ben Afflek’s bank robber in The Town is Florence Cathcart, a published writer and self-confessed skeptic who sets out to disprove claims that the boarding school is haunted, using her knowledge of science and a collection of gadgets.  But will her non-believer attitude finally be put to the test?

Now first of all this was familiar territory.  Picturesque but creepy old-England countryside and big stately homes dripping in foreboding atmosphere.  It reminded me of two movies, firstly Daniel Radcliff break-out The Woman In Black, then Spanish shocker The Orphanage … both quality heritage to borrow from (and their like) in my opinion.  With a credible, complex turn from Hall who really should be a bigger name than she is, as well as good support from Imelda Staunton and Dominic West, this had some decent scares, a cleverly written storyline, and a setting that certainly sent a few chills my way.

Directed effectively by Nick Murphy (TV’s Primeval) in his feature debut, this may wear its clichés like a coat of arms (do we really need another key hole meets scary face moment?), suffer from a few dodgy effects shots and could have been even scarier, but once I’d realised this was more a supernatural drama that an all out horror movie … I began to appreciate the acting, good ideas, twists and turns … making this well worth checking out.

Verdict:  3.5 /5