July 11, 2007


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Wizard Begins Acting Like a (Real) Troubled Teen: Evil won't stay buried, or out of Harry's head, in this dark, satisfying new Potter installment. (Scott Foundas, 7/10/07, Seattle Weekly)

The magic has returned to the Harry Potter franchise—albeit magic of the old, black variety. The darkest and most threatening by far of the five Potter films, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is also the only series entry outside of the third, Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, that feels like the product of a vivid cinematic imagination and not just a slavishly faithful transposition of a runaway kid-lit best seller. The director, David Yates, who has never before helmed a project of this scale, brings an energy and efficiency to Potter land—this is the series' fastest-moving (and, at a mere 138 minutes, shortest) installment—that may stem from his many hours spent directing British television projects (including the recent The Girl in the Café, with Bill Nighy). Yates isn't the only new blood here: Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg, cameraman Slawomir Idziak (who shot the Three Colors trilogy for Krzysztof Kieslowski), editor Mark Day, and composer Nicholas Hooper are also Potter neophytes. They collectively infuse the series' heretofore storybook atmosphere with a down-and-dirty grittiness—Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has never looked more like a drafty, downtrodden pile of bricks—and great, nightmarish imagery that's as startling to our senses as it is to young Mr. Potter's.

Credit J.K. Rowling, too: Order of the Phoenix gives us what may be the most compelling premise for a Potter picture yet, because it's the one least chained to an elaborate, mechanized plot. In narrative terms, not that much happens, but as for Harry's emotional journey—well, that's nearly epic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 11, 2007 6:52 PM

Not that much happens? Does Mr. Foundas realize that the book is almost 900 pages long? So of course it makes sense to make it the shortest of the HP movies so far. Ridiculus. I'm sure there's lots of "action" though.

Posted by: Bartman at July 12, 2007 7:52 AM

Either every single reviewer of the film (including this one) has completely missed the point of the film, or the film has completely missed the point of the book. Hint: A government and philosophical movement that refuses to acknowledge the reality of an existential threat to civilization might not actually be a reference to the Bush administration...

Posted by: b at July 12, 2007 1:24 PM

The films have never gotten the point of the books. The first two came closest.

Posted by: Bartman at July 13, 2007 7:39 AM