After Alfonso Cuaron’s fascinating Prisoner of Azkaban, which beautifully played with temporality and character, the Potter series has seemingly lost its edge. While a step up from Mike Newell’s dreadful Goblet of Fire, David Yates’ entertaining but repetitive Order of the Phoenix once again finds Harry battling the rise of Ralph Fiennes’ evil Lord Voldemort. Following the structure of it’s predecessor’s, Order of the Phoenix show’s it’s titular hero first under-appreciated, then misinformed, and finally resurrected to save the day yet again. Boring, but it works.
The Potter films fill a great niche for quality fantasy entertainment, but like most franchises, come up short in the originality department. This doesn’t seem to have much to do with Rowling’s source material (which still resonates with wonder and intrigue), but with the filmmakers chosen to helm the cinematic versions. As Cuaron showed four years ago, a Harry Potter film has enough room for stylistic experimentation and the expected magical coming of age scenarios. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. But who cares when the huge box office take keeps rearing it’s ugly head.