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Monday, 29 November 1999 18:00
Local opening date: 7/11/2007
Reviewed by Martha K. Baker
If you've read the six storybooks about Harry Potter, boy wizard, and seen the five films up to this point, then you know the bits surrounding our hero. You know about the warmth and luxury afforded the pupils at Hogwarts School for Wizards, unlike the cold and cruel lives at traditional English boarding schools. You know about the cold and cruel life that Harry leads while at home with the Dursleys, and you know about the owls and the mythic creatures in the forest, and the bolstering teaching faculty.
Knowing that, you can look at this stripped-down installment. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was directed by David Yates, whose credits are in television.. So even though Order is the longest of the novels, it's the shortest of the movies because Yates films only the essentials of the plot.

The story begins with Harry using magic to save that worthless cousin from the Dementors, bent on Hoovering his soul right out of the tub of lard he calls a body. Immediately, Harry is put on trial because using magic is forbidden in front of a Muggle, the breed of human to which the Dursleys "" and we "" belong. The trial is trumped up at the Ministry of Magic, but headmaster Albus Dumbledore, played by Michael Gambon, proves Harry's actions were justified.

Still, the Ministry sends one of its own, Dolores Umbridge, to spy on Hogwarts. Dolores, meaning sorrow, and umbridge meaning shade and resentment, is one of author J.K. Rowling's perfect names, and Imelda Staunton, the fine British actress, does a whiz-bang job as Miss Umbridge, who says the vilest things while giggling kittenishly in a pink knit suit and surrounded by plates with kittens on them, real kittens.

Meanwhile, the Order of the Phoenix, or Dumbledore's army has reassembled, just like the old days when Harry's parents belonged. Meanwhile, too, Voldemort is trying to steal Harry's very being, which requires Daniel Radcliffe to act without crossing the line between showing what it's like to have horrid nightmares and chewing the scenery. He acquits himself magnificently. Radcliffe is not only growing up to be a handsome man but a fine actor when given a chance.

The other actors are not given much of a chance in this controlled film. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are left standing around watching Harry writhe and turn his anger on them, his best friends. Other actors, such as Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, and Alan Rickman, largely leave the stage for this well-wrought and, of necessity, inconclusive installment in the life of Harry Potter.

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