Yates third Potter film unfortunately once again marks a drop in quality from his previous efforts. Whilst we still haven’t reached the levels of the first two (which were particularly poor) the promise that OOTP showed hasn’t fully materialised – it isn’t a bad film, it’s just not as good as it could be.
Once again Steve Kloves’s script would appear to be the problem. Much of the film focuses on the three leads (all of whom impress more and more with each film) at the expense of everybody else. So whilst we are treated to numerous shots of the leads standing around in the woods, events that form a major part of the book such as Mad-Eye’s death are relegated to a comment about it occurring off-screen. This creates the usual problems with regards pacing – the film is of the right length but because of the focus it occasionally feels sluggish.
Critically this also includes many of the events surrounding Snape & Co. that are fundamental to the book – leaving you wondering how they’re going to resolve some of the issues in a way that makes sense in 7.2.
Yates’s direction remains competent rather than outstanding and he’s clearly got a flair for dealing with action sequences, although curiously he’s better at these when they have an element of practical effect rather than CGI (compare the early skirmish in a café with the later one a demonic entity – one is taut and has a sense of danger, the other…).
There is one stand-out animated sequence near the centre of the film that is the most beautiful and imaginative thing the series has produced so far and it would be nice to see the film take more risks like this. It sums up the problem with the films as adaptations completely – whilst the quality remains consistent and they are worth seeing there has rarely been anything truly original about any of them.