Its kind of like Star Wars: Episode I, perhaps the weakest chain in the link but necessary in order to understand whats going to happen in the next two installments.
After a lonely summer with the despicable Dursleys, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is denounced as a liar by the Ministry of Magic and returns in disgrace to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the authority of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) has been undermined by the unwelcome arrival of dreadful Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton).
Now 15 with no family except godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), and friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) Harrys even more determined to fight the evil forces of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), training those few who still trust him in the magic theyll need to defend themselves as Dumbledores Army.
Utilizing J.K. Rowlings dark yet highly detailed novel, screenwriter Michael Goldenberg and director David Yates concentrate on Harrys full-blown, angst-ridden coming-of-age confusion, reducing colorful characters like Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), even Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) to cameos. Theres not even a Quiddich match!
Whats still fascinating is watching the wide-eyed innocents of Sorcerers Stone grow up. Except for Michael Apteds British series, Seven Up, documenting the lives of 14 British children every seven years, this has never been done before.
Yet with mumbled dialogue, fewer fantastical creatures, a perplexing prophecy and less impressive visual effects, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a transitional, sinister 7. At two hours, 18 minutes, its one of the shortest Harry Potter movies yet it feels like the longest.