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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Movie Review

Movieguide Magazine


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The fifth Harry Potter book is one of the two most boring, shallow books of the series (the sixth book being the other one). The cast and crew of the fifth movie try to liven things up a bit, but they can’t paper over the weakness of the story. Perhaps author J. K. Rowling probably should have stopped at four books (or at least 400 pages) and done another series of four Harry Potter books with a different storyline if she wanted to stay on the Harry Potter gravy train.

Even so, as shown by the number of copies sold, Harry Potter remains a phenomenon that’s still attracting millions of children. Thus, the movie version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is liable to still do great business at the box office. Regrettably, however, this means that even more children will be lured away from God and His Infallible Word, which says that witchcraft is evil and abhorrent. Instead of dreaming about the joys that God gives us through Jesus Christ, they will be dreaming of casting spells, using magic spells, riding brooms, and rebelling against their parents.

In the story of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, is running a vicious campaign to discredit Harry Potter for claiming that the evil Dark Lord, Voldemort, has returned. He forces Harry into a hearing to expel him from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for using magic outside the school. Harry is acquitted, however, because he was only defending himself against a pair of evil rogue wraiths known as Dementors.

Fudge has a Plan B, however. He installs a spy in the post of teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Dolores Umbridge. Umbridge is a strict disciplinarian who won’t let the students know how to defend themselves against the black magic of Voldemort and his minions. Led by Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermoine, the students set up a secret class to learn how to defend themselves.

Of course, complications ensue. Umbridge eventually gets the upper hand, Professor Dumbledore, Harry’s mentor, is fired, and Harry is still bothered by nightmares of Voldemort, which makes Harry doubt his own goodness. It all culminates in a magic battle between the forces of good and evil at the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic, where Voldemort wants Harry to retrieve a prophecy about them that reveals their destiny.

In the Bible, the word witchcraft also means rebellion against God. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix takes this literally. Not only does it teach that it’s okay to use witchcraft to defeat evil, it also explicitly teaches that breaking the rules can be exciting. The movie also has a neo-Pelagian view of good and evil. In that view, you don’t need God’s help to overcome the evil within you. All you have to do is learn how to choose the good on your own using mere willpower.

Of course, the world of Harry Potter is still an elite occult world where secret knowledge is the way to power and success. Order of the Phoenix tries to mitigate that by saying that anyone can become a great wizard, but once again, that involves learning the secret occult knowledge of how to do witchcraft and how to wave a magic wand properly. There is no teaching that God gives people special gifts so they can find their place in His Creation. Instead, His free gift of salvation is just that “free” to anyone with or without gifts, or any sex, at any age!

As suggested above, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is only fitfully exciting. The magic of the big screen makes the story more exciting than the book, but not by much. The special effects are extremely unimpressive, as is most of the music. In addition, the plot is lackluster and has some holes. For instance, much of the plot can be done away with if only Harry and his mentor, Professor Dumbledore, confided in one another. Also, like the book, the characters are fairly shallow. Making matters worse for the movie is that the adult performances are uneven, especially Imelda Staunton, who plays Dolores Umbridge and delivers a stereotypical performance for a stereotypical character. In fact, most of the movie’s villains are extremely weak and not particularly menacing, including Voldemort, who needs some serious plastic surgery. If only Voldemort could fix his face, perhaps he’d be less disagreeable, and even find the good friends that Harry says he lacks.

Watching 6- and 7-year-old children walk out of the press screening for the new Harry Potter movie is always an opportunity to reflect on the malignant corruption of our culture. Aside from the fact that these children are exposed to ugly creatures, fantastic violence, and worthless incantations, this movie has dialogue that sounds like it comes out of Stuart Smalley’s Daily Affirmations on Saturday Night Live. Namely, when Harry's godfather tells him, “You are not a bad person. Every person has light and darkness in them. You have a choice.” Imagine saying this to Michael Cho after he has had his killing spree. Or, Adolf Hitler.

Contrary to the godfather's idiotic aphorisms, there are bad people, and, without God, you cannot choose the good. But, there is a Name above all names who can solve this problem and banish the darkness. And, that name is Jesus Christ.

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About The Author

MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become