ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ★★★★
The fifth Potter film is the first to be directed by David Yates, whose safe pair of hands took him to the final breath of The Deathly Hallows. It was also the first to be released in IMAX 3D. In précis, it’s the one with Imelda Staunton as dictatorial pepperpot Dolores Umbridge, who takes over Hogwarts amid a Ministry of Magic-led Stalinist denial of the Voldemortian threat. Harry and pals form Dumbledore’s Army, and Daniel Radcliffe falls in love with Katie Leung’s Cho Chang. It’s a marked improvement on The Goblet of Fire, with a much less frivolous plot, some impressive CGI centaurs and an epic showdown in the Department of Mysteries.
Stories of behind the scenes arguments and bonkers budgets suggested that this futuristic adventure would be something of a damp squib, but what emerged was a hugely enjoyable sci-fi tale with an eco message. Kevin Costner stars as an enigmatic hero who offers protection to two women on a planet where the polar ice caps have melted and dry land is highly valued.
The visual flair of director Zack Snyder made him the ideal person to bring Frank Miller’s sword and sandals themed graphic novel to the screen. The setting is Thermopylae in 480 BC and Spartan king Gerard Butler leads an army of 300 warriors into battle against the Persians. And battle they do. There’s gore galore, but it’s all done with a thrilling cinematic flourish.
11.15pm-1.05am Film Four
Ice hockey is a game that requires skill but also a certain amount of brawn, so when a struggling team recruits a former bouncer as its resident muscle it seems like an obvious move. There is the small detail of the dim-witted Doug (Seann William Scott) not being able to skate, but he makes up for it with the hidings he metes out to opponents. It’s brutal for sure, but there are plenty of laughs and a certain amount of heart along the way.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ★★★★
1.05-4.00am Film Four
Given the success of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy of books, it was inevitable that Tinseltown would come calling and the Hollywood remake of the first in the series was surprisingly effective. But this original Swedish take on the chilling mystery in which Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace team up to solve a brutal crime has more darkness in its soul.