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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.
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By focussing the story on Harry (a leaner and slightly meaner Daniel Radcliffe) and his exploits, Yates dispenses with many of the novel's subplots and is able to push the story forward, ominously foreshadowing the dark times to come.
The darkest and most menacing by far of the five [films, [Phoenix] is also the only series entry outside of the third that feels like the product of a vivid cinematic imagination and not just a slavishly faithful transposition.
To their credit, new director David Yates and new screenwriter Michael Goldenberg never lose the heart of the tale. Even in the midst of an incredibly thrilling magical battle of whippeting wands, flashing light and furor, they focus on Harry's inner war.
[The filmmakers] have transformed J.K. Rowling's garrulous storytelling into something leaner, moodier and more compelling, that ticks with metronomic purpose as the story flits between psychological darkness and cartoonish slapstick.
It's the familiar faces that help make Phoenix the best Potter movie yet. Director Yates, who is expected to return for the next installment, continues the shift away from set design and toward performance.
Yates is wise not to stuff too many characters into this yarn, and plays everybody well, if sparingly. He can't offer a sense of completion -- more movies to come, you know -- but he offers a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting transition.
This series is growing up with moody blockbuster urgency. More emotionally wracked with each new entry, the Potter franchise has become a mainstream fantasy metaphor for adolescent crisis. It's Rebel Without a Curse.
This movie feels less like a plot-point checklist than the last one did, and there's enough visual razzle-dazzle to entertain those who haven't read the book and might miss a twist here or a turn there.
If you've read all the books and seen all the movies up to this point, you may not mind the extra weight. But a newcomer to the Potter chronicles making his or her acquaintance with this film may be forgiven for wondering where the magic is.
The most striking aspect of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is its contrast between the hormonally and supernaturally tormented teenager at its center and the modestly well-made and easygoing picture unfolding all around him.
The storytelling seems occasionally disjointed, but...for all the special-effects wizardry, that touch of film magic never surfaces. There's fireworks and action and much swooshing about, but this interim installment seems stuck in one nightmarish gear.
Did I mention that, for all its portentousness, this is the best Harry Potter picture yet? In some ways, it improves on J. K. Rowling's novel, which is punishingly protracted and builds to a climactic wand-off better seen than read.
There is the fact that this [movie] is a watershed of backstory, revelations and plot clarifications before heading into the two remaining chapters. So while Phoenix is a necessary film, it's quite possibly the least enjoyable of the lot so far.
The metaphors are all implicit and have a lot to do with just growing up and facing unpleasant realities, but they increasingly contribute to the feeling of nervousness and unease creeping into the series.