This week at the movies, we’ve got the latest in the "Harry Potter" series ("Order of the Phoenix," starring Daniel Radcliffe), and a tale of kidnapping and torture ("Captivity," starring Elisha Cuthbert). What do the critics have to say?
Fans apprehensive about how newcomer director David Yates would handle the longest and densest "Harry Potter" novel yet can rest easy, according to the critics. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" revolves around Harry’s (Daniel Radcliffe) continuing growing pains: first kisses, suspension from school, rebelling with an army of kids to overthrow the educative autocracy, and confronting the murderer of his parents. You know, kids’ stuff. While some say "Order" feels like a placeholder setting up the final two sequels, most agree that Yates makes the most of the job (and his CG budget), serving up a relentlessly dark and grim vision of Hogwarts. And with his tight, efficient script, writer Michael Goldenberg eschews the excess while keeping the emotional trappings of the 800-page source novel. It may be the worst-reviewed entry in the series so far, but at 74 percent on the Tomatometer, "Order of the Phoenix" is still Certified Fresh.
The latest entry in the burgeoning subgenre of torture-porn, "Captivity" isn’t being shown to American critics before it opens Friday. However, our mates in Merry Old England have gotten a look at it, and they don’t like what they see. "Captivity" stars Elisha Cuthbert as a top model, who is kidnapped and subjected to brutal torment at the hands of her sadistic captor. "Captivity" has already gotten plenty of press for its tasteless ad campaign and its perhaps-slightly-less-so-but-still-pretty-tasteless premiere party in L.A., both of which could arguably be overlooked if the movie delivered the goods. But critics say "Captivity" is little more than exploitative nonsense: nasty, brutish, and bereft of any real scares or psychological insight. At 13 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes say "Captivity" is more tortuous than entertaining.
Also opening this week in limited release: Patrice Leconte‘s "My Best Friend," a dry French comedy about a grumpy antiques dealer (Daniel Auteuil), is at 86 percent; the anime "Tekkonkinkreet," about a gang war over the construction of an amusement park, is at 83 percent; "Talk to Me," a biopic of pioneering talk radio legend Petey Greene starring Don Cheadle, is at 76 percent; "Interview," a duel of wits between a reporter (Steve Buscemi) and a starlet (Sienna Miller) is at 75 percent (check out our review from Sundance here); the South Korean import "Time," a drama about a couple spicing up their relationship by way of plastic surgery, is at 73 percent; and "Drama/Mex," which tells three interlocking stories from one wild night in Acapulco, is at 57 percent.
Don Cheadle as Ralph "Petey" Greene in "Talk to Me"
Harry Potter Movies:
79% — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
82% — Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
89% — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
89% — Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Alex Vo contributed to this article.