Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This sequel could be one of the better movies of the summer -- or the most disappointing

Of all the expected summer blockbusters, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the most likely to be good, and also the most likely to fizzle like one of Ron Weasley's magic tricks. Alfonso Cuaron made the best film in the series (Prisoner of Azkaban) not just because he's a fine director in his own right, but also because he had the good fortune to direct J.K. Rowling's best book. Like its predecessor (Goblet of Fire) and the next film in the series (book six, Half-Blood Prince), Phoenix is handicapped by another of Rowling's downer endings involving a character's death. It's not just the well-liked Cedric Diggory in Goblet of Fire, but a beloved father figure this time. Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell made cinematic hash of Cedric's death as his busy, foggy framing made the tragedy an afterthought amid Harry's duel with Voldemort — and he was an experienced film director used to the wide screen, as opposed to TV veteran David Yates. And while Harry is mature enough in book six to deal with that book's death, readers still shudder at the memory of Harry's petulant complaints about the unfairness of it all to Dumbledore at the end of Order of the Phoenix — all in capital letters, yet. It will be very hard for Yates and actor Daniel Radcliffe to carry that scene off, yet given the film series' unfortunate loyalty to Rowlings' clotted narratives they will probably feel compelled to try.

Revenge of the Sequels

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