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Wednesday, July 11, 2007 04:44 am

Harry grows up

Fifth Potter entertains kids and adults alike

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Running time 2:18 Rated PG-13 Parkway Pointe, ShowPlaceEast
Untitled Document There’s no question that David Yates’ adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a well-made feature. It hits all of the points we’ve come to expect from the Potter films; continues to darken the tone of the series, much as J. K. Rowling’s novels have done; and provides some memorable set pieces that rival anything in the previous four films. However, there’s a sense of inertia here, a degree of wheel-spinning that arises from certain plot points’ being repeated from the previous entries and the fact that very little in the way of overall story development occurs here. It’s not that Order is a bad film, but it flirts far too closely with being filler than any of the other Potter flicks, which is a regrettable surprise. The film gets off to a rousing start with the most genuinely frightening sequence of the series to date. Rushing home from a nearby playground, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his deplorable cousin Dudley (Harry Melling) are attacked by two Dementors who do their level best to suck the souls from the two boys. Left with no recourse but to fall back on the magic he’s learned, Harry drives the wraiths off but is ultimately brought before a high court of magicians, led by Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy), to defend himself against charges of using his powers in the presence of a Muggle. Though he beats the rap, Harry soon learns that his troubles are far from over. Harry came face to face with his mortal enemy, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), the year before, but now his account of the battle is discounted and he’s labeled a fraud for warning others that the Dark Lord is back. His faithful friends Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) stand by him, but Professor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) curiously distances himself from Harry and many of his fellow students shun him outright. What ensues is a story that, though compelling, does little to move the overall saga along and at times serves as a roll call of sorts for the film’s many characters. Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black; former teachers Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) and Remus Lupin (David Thewlis); and current instructors Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and Sybill Trelawney (Emma Thompson) all make brief appearances, as if to remind us that they’re still around or lying in wait for whatever might occur in the story’s final two installments. The series’ most intriguing character, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), is given short shrift as well, and Voldemort is seen only in cryptic glimpses that intensify his menace but also build frustration.
The special effects and production values of the Potter films remain top-notch, and there’s no shortage of great moments, including a revelation from Snape’s past, the introduction of the underground Ministry of Magic, and the final confrontation, involving all of the main characters, which is a true show-stopper.
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