After spending yesterday tearing apart the numerous shortcomings of the first four Harry Potter movies, I simply have this to say about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
This is the Harry Potter movie I’ve been waiting for.
It’s the first Harry Potter film to truly work as a film. David Yates and Michael Goldenberg are to be congratulated on truly adapting the book to the screen — not just offering a visual rendition of favorite scenes, but identifying the core elements of the book’s plot and finding a way to capture those elements and that plot in a visual medium. Scenes are re-purposed and multi-purposed; characters are conflated; sequences of events are shuffled; long scenes from the book are transformed into a single, potent visual image that tells you everything you need to know (a picture really can be worth a thousand words) — but what they ultimately accomplish is not only the most powerful and effective film to date, but also the most faithful of the films to date (insofar as it captures more than just the visuals of the book, it also captures the plot and themes of the book).
I was also impressed by the extent to which Yates and Goldenberg were able to repair some of the damage done to the continuity of the franchise by the third and fourth films. The third and, particularly, the fourth films had so thoroughly dropped the ball in establishing certain points of factual and character continuity (and even the second film’s abject failure to establish Ginny as a notable character can be counted as such as a failure) that maters had reached a critical point where essential foundation material had not been laid for later films. Yates and Goldenberg managed to repair a lot of the damage done, allowing Yates to not only succeed with this film, but to lay the groundwork for a more powerful and effective sixth film.
Having seen Goldenberg’s success here, I consider it very unfortunate that Steve Kloves (who adapted the first four films) will be returning for the sixth film. But, on the other hand, Yates is also scheduled for a return with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so — for the first time in a long time — I’ll actually be looking forward to a new Harry Potter movies.