My favorite book in the series remains Prisoner of Azkaban (hence the homage to Sirius in this image URL), but this film has personally been the most engaging and "real" film of the past five. The whimsy and delight of the first films have been replaced by a sense of foreboding brought about by both magical and bureaucratic nightmares. And there is no Quidditch in this movie, the filmmakers opting to spend their time and energy on other scenes that move the plot along at a faster pace, resulting in the shortest film in the series, but also the most absorbing. No bathroom breaks!
As Harry experiences his first kiss ("It was wet," not the way you might think though), he has to come to terms with general disbelief at his claims that Voldemort has truly returned. Add to this the Ministry of Magic's interference in Hogwarts affairs, as manifested by the delightfully wicked Dolores Umbridge, played to perfection by Imelda Staunton, as the Ministry sees headmaster Dumbledore and Harry's claims of You-Know-Who's return as a means to take over the Ministry. The Weasley twins' antics, meanwhile, are a welcome breather from the general heaviness of heart and ill-portent of the majority of the film and provides the modicum of mirth needed in the story.
The young actors are all blossoming, in particular Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint (despite playing a decreased role in events). The veterans hold their own, especially Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman, who makes the most of his short screen time by being deliciously creepy and ambiguous. Sometimes loony but otherworldly wise Luna Lovegood is a welcome addition to Harry's posse. And for those who've already read Half-Blood Prince, it is nice to note Ginny Weasley's behavior in this movie.
Who is David Yates again? Well after this movie, he may well be remembered as the person who megged the best Harry Potter film to date. This Harry Potter movie cannot make it as a standalone film--there are too many references to past events--yet it stands out as the essential link in the chain, that turnaround point that could be construed as an analogy of leaving carefree days of childhood and entering the cusp of adulthood. For Harry it's been a long time coming. This time he brings his friends for the journey, and what a journey it is.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes out in 18 months, and David Yates is once more at the helm. If he could do this with Order, what more could he do with Half-Blood Prince? Anticipation!
Last Song Syndrome : Sinnerman - Nina Simone