It is often the case with movie franchises that as they go along the quality of the movies deteriorate. The Harry Potter franchise seems to be an exception to the rule. In my opinion, at least, each movie has been better than the last one. I have to say that I can't even say that about the books.
I must say that I had my doubts as to how good Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix would be. Quite simply, I didn't know if David Yates was capable of handling a big budget feature with a good deal of special effects. After all, Yates had previously directed a few shorts, TV movies, episodes of TV series, and one feature film (The Tichborne Claimant), not exactly the resume of a director one would expect to direct a big budget summer blockbuster. That having been said, David Yates has accomplished something that only a few directors have seemed capable of doing this summer. He has not only directed a big budget, special effects laden movie in a well established franchise, he has done it well.
Oh, the movie does leave a great deal of the book out, something about which I imagine many sticklers will complain. Even so, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix captures the spirit of the novel perfectly. Like the book, the movie is very dark. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all three growing up, and the challenges they face are darker and deadlier than ever. Yates has given the film a good pace. It neither unfolds too swiftly, nor does it drag for long periods of time. Like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire before it, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is very, very British, as any Harry Potter movie should be. The movie also benefits from what could be the best climax of any Harry Potter film.
As usual, the performances are as good as ever. This is to be expected, as Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, and Michael Gambon have been playing their roles so long they must know them inside and out. That having been said, Gary Oldman delivers a stellar performance in his third outing as Sirius Black. Newcomers Evanna Lynch, as the rather strange Luna Lovegood, and Imelda Stauton, as Ministry official and teacher from Hell Dolores Umbridge, both capture their characters perfectly. James and Oliver Phelps deliver some much needed comic relief as the Weasley twins in what is otherwise a fairly dark film. Although she appears only briefly in this film, Helena Bonham Carter plays Sirius Black's cousin Bellatrix Lestrange with convincing madness.
Over all Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a bright spot in a summer movie season that has only had a few. And it is good to see that the Harry Potter franchise is continuing on the right course. Too many franchises seem to have stumbled of late.