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Potter gets dark. Very, very dark.

Posted at 12:31 PM on July 10, 2007 by Euan Kerr

Harry gets pointed in "Order of the Phoenix" © 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

There are a few moments of levity (and levitation) in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

But not many.

The fifth film in the hugely successful series drops the teen wizard and his pals into a nasty cauldron of magical intrigue spiced with a huge dollop of teen angst.

It's immensely entertaining.

From the moment when the audience is presented with a fog-obscured title sequence until the the end titles roll more than two hours later our heroes have to struggle their way through a swirling haze of rising evil, government denial, and feelings of teen powerlessness.

The film begins with Harry warding off an attack by rogue Dementors, but rather than being hailed a hero, he finds himself on trial for using magic in the presence of a muggle, in this case his obnoxious cousin Dudley. He also finds himself a target in the magical tabloids who cast doubt on his story that the Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort has returned and is raising an army.

On top of that the Ministry of Magic has sent a new teacher to Hogwarts. Dolores Umbridge is supposedly there to teach defense against the dark arts, but really she is there to take over the school, and stamp out any talk of Voldemort's return.

It's a complicated tale with wrinkles galore, and it'll likely give a few folk nightmares in coming weeks. There's also a lot more talking that gee-whizz magic (although the flying sequences through night-time London are a lot of fun.)

It is however the most engaging Potter for a couple of episodes.

As with the other films, the great rewards of the Potter movies is seeing the members of the huge, and apparently ever growing ensemble cast. To see the likes of Emma Thompson, David Thewlis, Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith and a host of others, each who can carry a film by themselves, all working together is amazing. It's one of the reasons the films fly by.

It also relieves the pressure from Daniel Radcliffe to have to do any intricate acting. This is the angry adolescent Potter, and there's not a lot of subtlety needed.

So go and see it. But if you go to a midnight show tonight, don't go alone, because you're going to be flinching all the way home.

July 2007
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