In the touching, droll and engrossing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, fear and loathing beset the wizard world. Harry Potter must master his own distress and everyone else's. While conquering self-doubt and outbursts of teen anger, our hero has to fight both the Luciferian evil of Lord Voldemort and the creeping, insidious cruelties of small-minded bureaucrats. Aptly enough, the movie opens at the witching hour, midnight, at area theaters.

Bringing in the longest Potter novel (870 pages) at the briefest running time, a new team of witty and incisive filmmakers, director David Yates and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg, supplies a ton of serious fun. Their movie may not be as fluid and transporting as director Alfonso Cuaron's and screenwriter Steve Kloves' Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but it's the next best thing: a vivid and surprisingly ticklish series entry that leaves you stoked for what comes next.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Warner Bros.) Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Imelda Staunton. Directed by David Yates. Rated PG-13. Time 138 minutes.

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