Review: Order of the Phoenix is the Darkest Harry Potter Yet

For those of you heading out to theaters today to catch opening day of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, below is a brief snapshot of what our critic, Scott Foundas, thought. Also, click here for showtimes.

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, cameraman, composer and editor, for injecting the heretofore storybook atmosphere with a down-and-dirty grittiness and nightmarish imagery that’s as startling to our senses as it is to the young boy wizard's. Still reeling from his standoff with the newly resurrected Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) at the end of 2005’s 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 movie’s 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 the ways 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.

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Amy Haimerl