If Yates' work has fewer obvious stylistic tics than Cuaron's, he still brings a very clean, cool style to things. The depiction of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, for instance, is way, way cooler than how it is described in the books (the Death Eaters and the Order apparating in black/white smoke, for instance, and fighting in smoke form, is really neat).
One thing I have noticed with these films is how sometimes they downplay the action. For example, I remember the whole part where the Order invade the Department of Mysteries to be far bigger in scale and much lengthier, but in Order of the Phoenix
that whole part of the book was scaled back considerably. It was a little bit of a letdown, because I had imagined this grandiose battle in my mind, but I felt like it was very diminished in the film version. I understand they had to truncate things for length and time purposes, but I was expecting a bit more grandeur for the big finale.
I have the same complaint for Half-Blood Prince
. That book has hundreds and hundreds of pages where we get nothing but meddlesome romance between the younger characters and then things finally get interesting toward the last remaining hundred pages of the book. For some reason, the death of Dumbledore and then the invasion of Hogwarts just didn't have that sweeping quality that I expected. I did hear that a lot of the battle was cut to save for "The Battle of Hogwarts" at the end of Deathly Hallows: Part 2
, but I remember reading the book and just being swept up in the drama of Dumbledore dying so suddenly after such a suspenseful build-up (and in the film version, I feel like it loses a lot of its impact: there is some build-up, but it's much more dramatic than suspenseful, and Snape actually killing Dumbledore for some reason didn't capture that sense of begrudging awfulness that it did in the book).
is actually the most gorgeously shot of all the Harry Potter films, but there were some cases where I was expecting some grit and roughness and instead there was a bit too much gloss, if that makes sense. I understand that because these are films and not books that we can't get the gradual build-up that we can while reading a book for a prolonged period of time, but for some reason I was really let down at some of the punchier moments of these films. For example, Sirius Black's death felt meaningless to me. I'm sorry, but I wanted to get emotionally involved, but it just didn't pack the emotional punch I was expecting.
These might be quibbles about the adaptation process more so than the execution of these books, but I remember when Cedric died at the end of Goblet of Fire
and how emotionally affected I was. Perhaps because that was the first legitimate death in the series, and Newell played it much more broadly (whereas Yates' style is more restrained), but I felt more moved by it than the death of Sirius. Also, the action in Goblet of Fire
is much punchier and more exciting. We still haven't gotten any more rousing action sequences in the series since the Golden Egg scene in Goblet of Fire
. I understand that book was plotted much more in the vein of a traditional action thriller than the rest of the books, but for some reason I feel like the remaining movies have lacked in suitably exciting action quotient since Goblet of Fire
Anyway, these are minor quibbles. The acting, cinematography, and pacing have all really for better or worse improved since the first few films, and I mostly attribute that to Alfonso Cuaron's economical pacing. Since Prisoner of Azkaban
, the subsequent directors in the series i.e. Newell and Yates haven't been so chained down to keeping a laborious pacing for these films because of the hefty material. As a matter of fact, they flow a lot better than Columbus's first two films. I just wish some of the more punchier moments felt more exciting and dramatic similarly to how I read them in the books, but I guess that's more attributable to Yates' more restrained style, which is admirable but just a little disappointing.