At the very start of the film, the tone is completely different from the previous films. Dark clouds surround the characters as dementors fly towards them. Clearly, something has gone terribly wrong and the tension is building towards the ultimate ending. As the first film for David Yates's (The Legend of Tarzan) direction, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix masters the new tone, crafting a whole new adventure for the Hogwarts students. The special effects add to the dark palette, only ceasing to shadow over the audience during holiday scenes.
As with all of the other Harry Potter films, there are some new and unique characters that are cast well for the film. Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.) adds a quirky character who later becomes extremely important in the franchise. Just as in the books, we get a sense of the odd mentality that Luna Lovegood has. Another great addition is Imelda Staunton (Chicken Run). Her portrayal of Dolores Umbridge gives me chills every time. Constantly correcting people, she is a villain that seems friendly on the surface but turns evil very quickly. If that isn't creepy enough, she is apparently a crazy cat lady who collects plates of magical cats. While these characters add uniqueness to this part of the franchise, they still come off as a bit cheesy. This cheesiness helps the franchise to attract children's attention, while still darkening the tone for audiences that have matured over time. I look forward to watching David Yates's expansion of the franchise with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!
The Bottom Line: This Harry Potter film is dark and quirky, captivating audiences that are young and old.
Image credit: By Andy F, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14269682