Director David Yates takes over the big chair for the next instalment in the Warner Brothers’ adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s magical novels, and he’d best get comfortable, because he’s going to see Harry Potter through the rest of his cinematic trip, over the course of the next four films.
Much like Goblet of Fire, the series is getting darker, and for the first time, we are seeing some reall payoffs for supporting characters, especially Snape (Alan Rickman) and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis).
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is suffering from nightmares about the resurrected Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and it sets him on edge for most of his school year at Hogwarts, but that isn’t the only thing causing the students grief. The Ministry of Magic is denying Harry and Dumbledore’s (Michael Gambon) claims that Voldemort has returned, and has instituted a policy of quiet, head down, all is well, denying the events around them.
As such, the ministry sends in Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton – who proves to be truly villainous in this film) to make sure that the Ministry’s beliefs, and policies are upheld without exception within the school. Soon, Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) have to feel like they are going something, to feel like they can defend themselves against the coming war they know is coming; the war their parents and guardians are keeping quiet about in an attempt to protect them.
The trio, taking their cue from their parents’ involvment in the Order of the Phoenix, the group forms Dumbledore’s Army, and under Harry’s tutelage, learn spells, charms, and how to defend themselves against Death Eaters, the servants of Voldemort.
Sides are very clearly being drawn, and divisions are forming.
Harry is maneuvered into breaking into the Ministry of Magic in search of a prophecy, and that will lead to the first real battle with Voldemort’s forces, and it won’t be a forgiving lesson.
The series is entertaining, solid, has grown with its audience, and isn’t afraid to hit you where it hurts to drive its point home.
Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint are now so at home with these characters, and I loved the extra moments we are given with Snape, Neville, and things happening with Harry and Cho (Katie Leung), while hinting at what may be to come, finally, for Ginny (Bonnie Wright).
These films remain incredibly powerful, and enjoyable, especially for those of us who made the yearly journey to the theatre to see them on the big screen. These are events, and as such, have earned a place in the hearts and nostalgia of many. It’s just a relief that the films are strong enough to weather that nostalgia.
There’s three films to go. Next time, it’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!