The magic has returned to the Harry Potter franchise — albeit magic of the old, black variety. Credit director David Yates, a British television vet — plus a new screenwriter, a new cameraman, a new composer and a new editor — for injecting the heretofore storybook atmosphere with down-and-dirty grittiness and nightmarish imagery as startling to our senses and the young wizard's. Still reeling from his standoff with the newly resurrected Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) at the end of 2005s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the already melancholic Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is, at the start of this new film, downright disconsolate — until a couple of fearsome beasties called Dementors come along to shake him out of his malaise. Voldy, it seems, is stirring again, though few outside of the movies titular cabal — least of all the ineffectual bureaucrats in the Ministry of Magic — are willing to believe it. Decked out with all the usual CGI wonderments and appearances by beloved series regulars, Order of the Phoenix satisfies in all of the ways that Potter devotees have come to expect. But it's most affecting as a coming-of-age story about the moment when schoolboy frolic gives way to an understanding of the evil that men do in the world.
David YatesDaniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths, Jason Isaacs, Gary OldmanMichael Goldenberg, J.K. RowlingDavid Heyman, David BarronWarner Bros. Pictures