Well, that was fun. We just got back from "Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix", and it was really quite good; at least for those of us who've read the books.
Good intro to the only criticism I have of the movie: too much story to put into two and a half hours. Not exactly an uncommon problem, or one the series hasn't been through in.. well, all the other movies; but it was especially notable here.
The performances were great; what there was of them. I don't think anyone other than Harry Sirius, and the new Baddie (who you will absolutely LOVE to loathe. I wanted to ill her with my bare hands within minutes) had more than a dozen or so lines (even Ron and Hermione).
The pace was such that there was no time for depth of exposition in the plot, or any real exploration character development. This isn't to say it was shallow, there was a lot of "show don't tell" going on, which is a good thing; I just wish they'd had more time for fleshing things out.
Now, for me that's not a problem; because having read the books and seen the movies prior to this one, I can fill in the blanks. It's probably not the best intro to the series however, as someone who doesn't have the background will be completely lost.
Ok, action great, effects great, really good lighting and sound design to set the mood... the movie felt claustrophobic, and at the same time... hollow maybe?
Well, imagine what Harry is feeling here, a teenage boy, faced with enormous pressure, responsibility, fame, persecution, danger... now take that feeling and pour it through your eyes and ears and that's what the movie was like.
Really, it was that effective; and that affecting.
COntradicting what I said earlier about things not having too much flesh; the emotion and personal interaction of this movie was the best of the series so far. In the other movies, often the magic, effects, creatures, and setting seemed to be more "present" than the characters.
This is an issue common to all fantasy actually, because you are presenting the audience with huge new shocking or amazing, or delighting (or all three) things.. they just naturally take your attention away. In this movie however; because the firm skeleton of the story, and setting, are in place; the fantasy doesn't get in the way of the characters, their development, and their story... which as I said is a good thing, because there wouldn't be any time for anything otherwise.
It's not very often that you can watch a 150 minute movie and think "Wow, this really need to be an hour longer".
Overall, I enjoyed it greatly; with the one slight aspect of reservation. I recommend it highly, but I also recommend that you watch the other movies and read the books first.