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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (AF)


Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Emma Thompson, Robert Hardy, Warwick Davis

Director: David Yates

Harry’s back and Potterphiles won’t need urging to make the fifth instalment of J K Rowling’s magical moneymaking movie machine a hit. Non-addicts should be agreeably entertained, too, thanks to the strong narrative, brisk direction and the shortest running time of any Potter picture. Yates, adapter Michael Goldenberg and composer Nicholas Hopper are all first-timers but it’s the successful formula as before, making a strong case for producers, rather than directors, as auteurs.

The tone is darker and more adult (Potter enjoys his first kiss although it must have seemed a tad tame to Radcliffe after his recent naked horse-blinding stint on the West End stage in Equus) when Harry, acquitted after a kangaroo court fails to have him expelled, returns to Hogwarts, now under the thrall of duplicitous and creepy Dolores Umbridge (show-stealer Staunton) and has to train an army of students to battle evil Lord Voldemort.

Superb special effects add visual impact to the strong story with a rousing climactic battle, Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are growing up convincingly and have their roles down pat and the strong supporting cast (Rickman resembles a camp, malevolent Kenneth Williams in Carry on Warlock) do everything that’s asked of them. No masterpiece but certainly a highly enjoyable fantasy adventure.

Alan Frank

UK 2007. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
138 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 12 Jul 2007