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Harry grows up ... At the Movies HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (12A).

Byline: Joe Riley

FOR those rushed grown-ups caught in the viewing vacuum between Wimbledon and the golf open - not discounting any attachment to Big Brother - here, in a nutshell, is what you need know about the new Harry Potterf ilm.

It's more than OK, fairly faithful to the book, has the usual stellar cast and high production values, and most tellingly, sees hero Daniel Radcliffe finally morph from a sibling of the Milky Bar Kid into a croaking pseudo-sexy dude with the on-screen manner of a young Michael Caine.

The movie's best performance comes from Imelda Staunton, asa wicked pink-frou reforming schools inspector, resembling a cross between a boiled sweet and Barbara Cartland.

Plotwise, all that any part-timers (or even first-timers) need to know is that the dark lord (Ralph Fiennes) and his dark army is back in town.

Life at Hogwarts School continues against all the odds. The don't miss character is the nutty janitor.

J K Rowling, J R Tolkein. It's all the same. Strange landscapes, weird creatures. The feeling that you've been there, when, of course, you haven't.

I found my heart unmelting at Rowling's revelation on Jonathan Ross that she had sobbed writing the penultimate chapter of the seventh, and supposedly last, Potter tome which is published next week.

She can weep all the way to the bank. As can Radcliffe (worth pounds 20m) and his sidekicks Ron and Hermoine (each worth pounds 10m).

It's also done Stirling stuff for the careers of Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane, Robert Hardy, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, David Thewlis, and, not least Liverpool's very own Jason Isaacs (as disgraced blonded wizard Lucius Malfoy).

This time, however, the focus is on Harry, largely at the expense of peripheral players

Moreover, Radcliffe's acting has improved greatly He has finally realised that when you step in front a camera, less is more.

The infamous kiss with Cho Chang (Katie Leung) is artfully staged, without any clashing of snouts.

Even so, all gloss and scant emotion. Grief and desolation, which rippled off the page, often don't even tinge the big screen

But who's worried?

The imminent publication of the new story ensures the fifth film will soar to new box office heights.

Director David Yates orchestrates the myriad elements with assurance but in the absence of any big action sequences until the final showdown at the Ministry of Magic, the running time errs towards uncomfortably long.

8/10 Still going potty for Harry


GRIPPING STUFF: Daniel Radcliffe and Katie Leung
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2007
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