Nicholas Hooper

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

The fifth installment in the Harry Potter film series marks the arrival of a fourth director, David Yates, and with him a third composer, his longtime collaborator Nicholas Hooper. The two have worked together previously on numerous television projects as well as the feature film The Girl in the Café. That history allowed for Hooper to be brought into the project much earlier than a composer usually is -- even before filming began, in fact. But both Yates and Hooper were coming into an established franchise that provided them only limited opportunities to put their own stamp on the material. For Yates, of course, the expectations of those who had seen the earlier films and read the books by J.K. Rowling, as well as those of the executives at Warner Bros. Pictures, meant he had to toe the line as much as such predecessors as Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [2004]) and Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire [2005]), who had followed on from the original director, Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone [2001], Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [2002]). For Hooper, it meant that he had to follow the pattern set by John Williams, who scored the first three films, and repeated by Patrick Doyle (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Indeed, the most striking melody here remains Williams' "Hedwig's Theme," which pops up here and there. So, despite his unusual access to the work in progress and lengthy schedule, Hooper has come up with a fairly conventional score mixing highly identifiable chase and suspense music, light adventure, and a touch of romance. It is by now a cliché to note that each successive Potter episode is "darker" than the one before it, as the arch-villain Voldemort (the most sinister and procrastinating bad guy since Darth Vader) draws ever nearer to taking over the wizarding world of the stories and eliminating the adolescent protagonist. And so Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is just that bit darker than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In fact, it's even darker than it might have been, since the screenplay all but eviscerates some of the lighter moments in the book. But Hooper's music is not as threatening for the most part as might be expected, and is even fun in spots. It helps that the cues are not presented here in the order in which they appear in the film with, for example, the tension-filled "Hall of Prophecy," which should come near the end, slotted sixth, while the playful and repetitive "The Ministry of Magic," which has a Philip Glass-like feel and should come toward the beginning, pushed back to 15th place in the sequence. Likely both Yates and Hooper will move on after their experience with Harry Potter, to be replaced by others. They have neither embarrassed themselves nor done anything really spectacular in taking their turns in the series.

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