MOVIE REVIEWS: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

The words seem to echo in reviews all over the country: Harry Potter has lost his magic. "Whatever happened to the delight, and, if you'll excuse the term, the magic in the Harry Potter series?" Roger Ebert asks in the Chicago Sun Times. Gene Seymour comments in Newsday that a newcomer to the Potter movies "may be forgiven for wondering where the magic is; not just the transfigurations, sparkling explosions and assorted phantasmagoria ... but the sense of wonder and transport that helped make [author J.K.] Rowling's books into a global cultural phenomenon." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post puts it more tersely: "There are lots of special effects, but sadly, no real magic." Kenneth Turan's review in the Los Angeles Times is headed: "The Magic Is Gone." On the other hand, Colin Bertram in the New York Daily News concludes his review by remarking, "The magic is definitely back." Still other critics point out that Potter fans will definitely be back, too. "[The] fifth Potter movie will be another surefire box-office wonder," writes Bob Longino in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's easily better than Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. It's as dark as Azkaban and as unsettling as Goblet of Fire." A.O. Scott in the New York Times is one of several critics who simply give the movie a passing grade. "It manages to succeed as a piece of entertainment without quite fulfilling its potential as a movie," he writes, adding unenthusiastically that while it "is not a great movie, it is a pretty good one." Glenn Whipp in the Los Angeles Daily News concludes that the film "will satisfy the faithful." However, some critics maintain that many Potter fans will be disappointed. Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, calls it "a slog that might induce Potter fatigue even among stalwarts."

RENT OR BUY A MOVIE -- WITH YOUR TIVO

Beginning today (Tuesday), owners of TiVo devices will be able to order movies from Amazon directly from their television sets rather than from their PCs. The deal amounts to an enhancement of Amazon's Unbox download service, which allows users to search a video catalog, then rent or buy selected titles -- simply by using TiVo's remote.

YOUTUBE AXES TRAILERS FOR CLOVERFIELD

YouTube has complied with a request from Paramount to remove copies of a trailer for the forthcoming Cloverfield. The trailer for the J.J. Abrams-produced movie made its first appearance last week with the debut of Transformers in movie theaters. The following day copies of the trailer, apparently shot with a camcorder, began appearing on YouTube, but they were soon replaced by a notice saying "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Paramount Pictures Corp." Paramount is a unit of Viacom, Inc., which has filed a $1-billion copyright-infringement lawsuit against YouTube. Writing on the TechDirt site, one blogger commented that the studio was obviously trying to generate buzz with the trailer. "Why is it that the studios wanna ruin their buzz?" he asked. Another blogger replied, "It makes perfect sense -- when you let lawyers run your entertainment company. Perhaps we should just be thankful that Paramount hasn't tried to have the people who filmed the trailer arrested."

ESTATE GOES ON SALE IN BEVERLY HILLS FOR $165 MILLION

The Beverly Hills mansion used in the scene in The Godfather in which a movie producer awakens to discover the severed head of a horse lying next to him has been put up for sale for $165 million, making it the most expensive residential listing in history, according to today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times. The estate was once the home of publisher William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, the actress Marion Davies. According to the Times, the estate, which covers 6.5 acres and is currently owned by attorney/investor Leonard M. Ross, includes three swimming pools, 29 bedrooms, a movie theater, a disco, and a cottage for security staff.

TRANSFORMERS SETS ONE-WEEK RECORD FOR NON-SEQUEL

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. Transformers, Paramount, $70,502,384, 1 Wk. ($155,405,412); 2. Ratatouille, Disney, $29,014,293, 2 Wks. ($109,531,598); 3. Live Free Or Die Hard, 20th Century Fox, $17,730,149, 2 Wks. ($84,424,123); 4. License to Wed, Warner Bros., $10,422,258, 1 Wk. ($17,838,076); 5. Evan Almighty, Universal, $8,719,135, 3 Wks. ($78,706,785); 6. 1408, MGM, $7,088,979, 3 Wks. ($53,738,325); 7. Knocked Up, Universal, $5,222,680, 6 Wks. ($132,089,425); 8. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 20th Century Fox, $4,239,993, 4 Wks. ($123,881,586); 9. Sicko, Lions Gate, $3,600,179, 3 Wks. ($11,452,560).

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.