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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (****)
directed by David Yates
written by Michael Goldenberg, from the novel by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Principal Cast
Daniel Radcliffe -- Harry Potter
Emma Watson -- Hermione Granger
Rupert Grint -- Ron Weasley
Richard Macklin -- Malcolm
Kathryn Hunter -- Mrs. Arabella Figg
Jason Boyd -- Piers
Miles Jupp -- TV Weatherman
Harry Melling -- Dudley Dursley
Fiona Shaw -- Petunia Dursley
Richard Griffiths -- Vernon Dursley
Adrian Rawlins -- James Potter
Geraldine Somerville -- Lily Potter
Robert Pattinson -- Cedric Diggory
Ralph Fiennes -- Lord Voldemort
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

The latest Harry Potter film is a solid, satisfying dark fantasy. Maybe it is a hair less good than the preceding film, but we have been lucky so far. None of the Harry Potter films have suffered from the kind of series-itus seen in most of this Summer's blockbusters. Even the critics are coming around, setting aside their distaste for anything popular and granting that the Harry Potter films might be entertaining, in a plebian sort of way.

The book is very long. The film sticks close to Harry's torments and rare triumphs and wisely omits many subplots. This leaves some gaping plot holes, but the action hurries you past them, so you hardly notice. The focus is on the moral issues: friendship, loneliness, and ego. The question of whether you can protect people by turning away from them arises several times, in several different contexts, with different choices and different results.

The John Williams theme music is almost absent from the film, with only a hint during the main title. My guess is that the director thought darker music more appropriate, but I wish they had at least used the theme over the end credits.

For the first time, in keeping with the more serious tone, a Harry Potter film has no credit cookie.

spoiler warning

Michael Goldenberg has only written three previous films, Peter Pan, Contact, and Bed of Roses. This is his best, by far, but I wonder why Steve Kloves, who wrote the first four films and is working on number six, was replaced. The only serious flaw in the writing is the scene where (spoiler warning) Dumbledore explains to Harry that he has been ignoring him in hopes of throwing You Know Who off the track. The way the scene is written, Dumbledore sounds like a fool.

end of spoiler warning

David Yates, the director, has a lot of experience in British television, very little in films, but he does an excellent job. He is scheduled to return for the next film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, to be released in 2008.

Most of the actors return. Sir Michael Gambon plays Dumbledore for the third time. The original Dumbledore, Richard Harris, died after the second film. The one indispensable actor is, I think, Alan Rickman. It is hard to imagine a replacement for the role of Snape.

Two more films to go, and I can only hope they are as good as the first five.

Copyright © 2007 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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