TOKYO (Reuters) - Schoolboy wizard Harry Potter battles for recognition as a grown man in the latest movie of the blockbuster series, in which he finds himself torn between good and evil -- and experiences his first on-screen kiss.
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, the fifth in the multi-billion-dollar movie based on the best-selling books by J.K. Rowling, was screened in Tokyo on Tuesday, ahead of a Japan premiere later this month that will be the world’s first.
Unexpectedly attacked by “Dementors” while tussling with his unpleasant cousin Dudley in a park near their suburban home, Harry beats the cloaked monsters off with a spell, a feat that could earn him expulsion from school for the crime of “underage magic”.
Harry must try to have the charges dismissed at a court hearing in London before he can join his old pals Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley for another eventful year at Hogwarts school of wizardry.
Now on the cusp of adulthood, Harry not only takes a leading role in rallying his fellow wizards against the evil Voldemort, but also experiences a teenage rite of passage when he falls in love with a fellow pupil.
Daniel Radcliffe, who has played Harry throughout the series, turns 18 next month and is seeking to build a reputation as an adult actor outside the Potter franchise. He won praise for his performance in a London theatrical production of “Equus” earlier this year.
But new to the series is director David Yates, previously best known for a string of award-winning television dramas.
With a roster of high-profile actors on hand, from Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort to Imelda Staunton as the bossy Dolores Umbridge, distributors Warner Bros. will be hoping to repeat the success of previous Potter films, which have grossed a worldwide total of $3.5 billion (1.8 billion pounds).
Radcliffe and his two main co-stars, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, are to appear in the final two films of the series, the first of which, “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince”, is set for U.S. release in November 2008.
The last book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, is set to hit bookstores on July 21 and no date has been fixed for the release of the film version.