Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his cousin Dudley are having a confrontation in the playground when they are attacked by two Dementors. Harry uses magic to fight them off but later receives a letter from the Ministry of Magic notifying him that because he used magic outside school, he has been expelled. He is taken to the secret headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, a group of wizards opposed to Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Here he is reunited with his godfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). With help from Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Harry wins his case at the Ministry of Magic and returns to his school, Hogwarts.
Harry struggles with recurring nightmares, an identity crisis and the general torments of a teenager coming of age, including his first kiss with Cho Chang (Katie Leung). There is also a new teacher at Hogwarts, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), who enforces new rules that severely restrict the freedom of the students. To counter Dolores, Harry organises a group of rebellious students to form their own class, which they call ‘Dumbledore’s Army’. The group is eventually discovered, Dumbledore is arrested (he later escapes), and Harry and his friends are placed under school arrest.
Harry has a premonition that Sirius Black is being tortured by Lord Voldemort, and that Voldemort will attack the Ministry of Magic in an attempt to steal a glass ball that holds the secret to his survival. Along with Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), Harry escapes from Dolores and makes his way to the Ministry of Magic.
When Harry recovers the prophesy ball, Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs), Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and other Voldemort followers materialise. Events then lead to the final epic battle at the Ministry of Magic.
Magic and the supernatural; teenage anxiety and identity crisis; rebellion; bullying
This movie contains frequent fantasy violence, such as characters being maimed and killed, and epic battles. For example:
- Dudley bullies Harry about his nightmares and his mother's death.
- Harry physically threatens Dudley by holding his wand underneath Dudley’s chin.
- Two Dementors (wraith-like ghosts) attack Harry and Dudley. The Dementors chase and capture the two boys, pinning them to the ground. The Dementors then begin to suck the life force from Harry and Dudley. Harry employs a spell to fend off the attacking Dementors, but Dudley is left looking pale and dark eyed.
- Harry has flashbacks in which he relives the deaths of his parents.
- Harry is told stories of how Voldemort murdered entire families, and how Voldemort would kill his victims by causing them to have terrifying hallucinations until they begged to be killed.
- Hogwarts student Draco teases Harry about going to prison. In retaliation, Harry charges at Draco but Ron physically restrains him and prevents him from attacking Draco.
- Dolores Umbridge frequently uses magic to punish and humiliate students and other staff. She also verbally threatens and intimidates the students and Professor Trelawney.
- Dolores tortures Harry Potter and fellow students by making them write lines with an enchanted quill that causes whatever the students write to be cut into the flesh on the back of their hand.
- Professor Snape slaps Ron across the back of his head.
- Two school bullies deliberately bump into and shove another boy.
- During wizard duelling practice, Neville Longbottom employs magic to knock Harry off his feet, sending Harry flying through the air. Hermione does the same thing to Ron.
- Harry has a premonition of Ron’s father Arthur Weasley being attacked by an invisible force that leaves him convulsing on the floor, his face and hands smeared with blood. Later Arthur Weasley is seen in a wheelchair with his arm in a sling and cuts on his face.
- In a training session to help Harry to protect himself from Voldemort, Snape uses his mind to probe and invade Harry’s mind, making him sweat and struggle against the powers.
- Harry states that he feels angry all of the time, and worries that he may be turning ‘bad’.
- Bellatrix Lestrange is chained and manacled to the wall of a prison cell.
- Harry is shown images of his father as a schoolboy at Hogwarts, bullying and humiliating Snape.
- During a school exam, Ron’s brothers disrupt the exam by riding their broom sticks around the exam hall, exploding fireworks and creating a giant fireworks dragon that terrifies and chases Dolores.
- Harry collapses on the ground when he has a premonition of Sirius Black being tortured by Voldemort.
- Dolores slaps Harry hard across the face in front of his school friends and then threatens to use an illegal and extremely painful curse on Harry to extract information from him.
- Dolores uses magic to bind and strangle a centaur with rope.
- At the Ministry of Magic, Harry and his group of friends are attacked by several masked Death Eaters who chase Harry and his friends. Both groups throw numerous lightning bolts and magical spells at each other, and several Death Eaters are knocked to the ground. Wooden storage shelves collapse with thousands of glass balls smashing to the ground. Eventually Harry and his friends are overpowered and restrained by the Death Eaters, who hold wands to their throats. The faces of Harry and his friends are covered with bloody cuts and scratches. Harry is threatened that his friends will be harmed if he does not hand over a prophecy ball.
- Sirius punches Lucius Malfoy in the face, knocking him to the ground.
- The final battle at the Ministry of Magic is very violent. The adult wizards fire lightning bolts from their wands. There is huge battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore. Voldemort creates a giant snake of fire and flames that attacks Dumbledore. Dumbledore creates a giant ball of water that engulfs Voldemort. Voldemort uses magic to shatter dozens of panes of glass and then hurls thousands of glass shards at Dumbledore and Harry. Bellatrix Lestrange kills Harry’s godfather Sirius. Harry, distraught and crying, chases Bellatrix while Voldemort incites Harry to kill her. After the battle, Harry is left twitching and unconscious on the floor.
Content that may disturb children
The film has a dark and menacing tone that is likely to scare children. Children in this age group could be scared or disturbed by the violent scenes described above as well as the following scenes:
- At the start of the film, Harry is engaged in a confrontation with Dudley when suddenly the sky fills with dark ominous clouds causing fear and panic in Harry and Dudley. Two black, mummy-like Dementors come out of the clouds and chase Harry and Dudley. They pin the boys down and start to suck their life force from their bodies. The Dementors are shown hovering closely above the victims, sucking coloured breath-like vapours from their mouths.
- Harry receives a letter from the Ministry of Magic. The letter is animated with life-like feminine lips and eyebrows that move in an intimidating manner.
- Voldemort is a nightmarish violent and sinister character with snake-like characteristics.
- Mad Eye Moody has a false magical eye that swivels around.
- The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix has a live-in house elf with a scary appearance and nasty disposition.
- One member of the Order of the Phoenix changes the colour of her hair and the appearance of her face. While sitting at the dinner table she shape-changes her face into that of a pig and other animals.
- People walk out of green flames in a fireplace. A face (Sirius) also appears and talks to Harry.
- Two scenes feature fantasy creatures that resemble skeletal horses with wings.
- Harry has several nightmares, sweating, tossing and turning in his bed. One nightmare depicts Voldemort reaching out for Harry with skeletal fingers and long talon fingernails.
- A student is given a magic lolly that causes the student to grow a chin like a bullfrog.
- One scene contains images of Filch, the school caretaker, covered in exploding red boils.
- A snake tattoo on a person’s arm rises out of the skin and becomes a three dimensional figure.
- Lighting hits a castle, exploding a large section of wall.
- Wraith-like images of animals come out of the ends of the students’ wands when they practise magic.
- Dumbledore and a phoenix disappear in a large cloud of smoke and flames.
- Two scenes contain images of a rather stupefied looking but menacing giant.
- The epic battle scene at the end of the film depicts the Death Eaters as caped wraiths, who appear and disappear in the form of a melting black mist that moves at great speed. The Death Eaters wear black metal masks with a dark menacing appearance.
- During the final battle, Harry is possessed by Voldemort, and develops the characteristic red eyes and speaks his words.
- When Harry’s godfather Sirius is killed, he slowly dissolves.
Children in this age group could also be disturbed by the scenes described above as well as the following:
- a scene that shows Dementors attacking Harry and Dudley
- images of Lord Voldemort, Dolores as an unstable, vengeful, woman, and the house elf
- the skeleton horse-like creatures with wings
- scenes in the epic battle at the end of the film.
Some children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes described above, particularly images of the Dementors, as well as Voldemort’s reptilian-like appearance.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix contains a few mild sexual references. Examples include:
- In one scene, Harry is told that Cho couldn’t take her eyes off him.
- When Harry is asked what it was like to kiss Cho, he says it was ‘wet’.
- When reference is made to Cho’s melancholy mood Ron states, ‘Snogging would cheer her up’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
- At a family dinner some of the adults have full glasses of beer in front of them, but they are not seen drinking.
- At a Christmas dinner, glasses of wine are on the table, but people are not seen drinking.
- Dolores askes Professor Snape to give Harry a truth potion but Snape refuses. He says that he has run out of the potion because he has used up all of his supplies on Harry in previous attempts.
Nudity and sexual activity
The film contains no nudity but it does have some occasional low-level sexual activity:
- In a couple of scenes Cho looks at Harry with romantic eyes.
- In one scene Harry and Cho engage in a long passionate kiss on the mouth.
- Bellatrix Lestrange is seen as a sensuous witch wearing a black tight fitting dress that exposes a degree of cleavage.
This movie contains some occasional low-level coarse language, as well as put-downs that are sometimes racist.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a supernatural action movie with spectacular special effects. It is darker and moodier than previous films, focusing on Harry’s struggle with his coming of age and confrontation with his inner demons as well as issues of power and authority. This makes the film more suited to older teenagers and adults.
One of the main messages in the film relates to Harry Potter's self-esteem and values. Harry learns that what is important in life is not what happens to us throughout our life, but the choices we make and how we act on those choices. You might like to discuss this with your child as well as the following values presented in the movie:
- working with others to triumph over adversity
- risking one’s life to protect loved ones
- supporting and standing by your friends.
You could also also talk about the real-life consequences of racism and discrimination, stereotyping, school discipline and bullying.