Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007, David Yates)

After the perfunctory feel of GOBLET OF FIRE, the franchise finds itself back on solid ground with its fifth entry. Due credit should be given series newbies David Yates as director and Michael Goldenberg as screenwriter for distilling one of the longer Potter novels into a fairly satisfying 2 1/2 hours- whereas GOBLET felt almost like a highlight reel in its storytelling, this film fairly successfully boils down to feature length. Likewise, the supporting characters get more time to make an impression this time out. Best in show is chirpy little terror Dolores Umbridge, played by Imelda Staunton, as much of a pink lover as Elle in LEGALLY BLONDE, but with a positively Rumsfeldian heart. Plus it's nice to see Oldman, Thewlis, Smith and especially the priceless Alan Rickman back on their game this time after being skimmed over in the last installment. That said, the series suffers as ever from a workmanlike feel, the better to court both Potter-philes and non-reading moviegoers. Even the installment directed by Cuaron (the only true artist to helm a Potter film so far) hasn't gotten over this hump. In addition, the story is too dependent on last-second entrances and coincidences to be really effective in a narrative sense- I know these are magical folk, but come on. Rating: 6 out of 10.

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