#4 Movie: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Harry Potter films don’t get much better than this. This was the first Harry Potter film to be directed by David Yates, who went on to direct the rest of the HP films. It also has the series’ best villain, Dolores Umbridge, the best plot, and one of the franchises’ best characters, Luna Lovegood, played by the lovely Evanna Lynch. This was also the first movie where Voldemort played a major role. Sure, he showed up in Goblet of Fire for the finale, but it was a little unexpected, and so there was very little tension release. I always felt that Goblet of Fire was the black sheep of the series, with no major plot points or characters introduced. Like I said, Voldemort shows up at the end, but that wasn’t as much increasing the quality of Goblet of Fire, as much as building up more excitement and tension for Order of the Phoenix. Order of the Phoenix is also one of the HP movies that you can fully understand even if you haven’t read the books. A lot of content had to be cut for this movie, but David Yates (my favorite HP director) picked just the right scenes so that you get the full picture, but without important story points being thrown at you left and right so they can fit the whole story in 2 and-a-half hours. The whole ‘underground army’ thing worked brilliantly for this movie, and was very similar to (as David Yates has said several times) the French Resistance. Dolores Umbridge gives the film a suspenseful feel, almost in a ‘Big Brother is Watching’ kind-of way. Sure, Voldemort is pure evil in a freaky nose-less form, but he doesn’t walk right through Hogwarts’ corridors while wearing a frilly pink sweater. But that thought does give me the creeps. *shudders*
#4 Game: Vandal Hearts
A brilliant little SRPG, Vandal Hearts is about Ash Lambert, a military officer who eventually becomes a mercenary in order to stop Hel Spites and Kane Spites from taking over the world. I think. My disc broke a while back after beating this game for the 7th time. Anyway, as fantastic as the story is, the combat is even better. This game has a simple but fun weapon triangle. Sword beats Bow, Bow beats Lance, and Lance beats Sword. In addition, there is an Armor class that deals a ton of damage, but is slow and weak to magic, while the Magic class is horrible at everything except taking out Armor units. Of course, Magic units are extremely powerful at high levels. One of my favorite Vandal Hearts memories is just keeping my team at the spawn point while blasting every enemy unit on the battlefield at once with one mega-spell. Something even better than all that though, is the amazing set pieces in this game. There is an extremely memorable battle on a pirate ship at one point, and another battle requires you fight a sandworm, who travels all across the map, making sand mountains you must climb to get to it’s face. And remember that this is a SRPG. Somehow, Konami managed to make the turn-based and strategic, but also fast and exciting. It’s a brilliant game, and is required playing for any SRPG fan.