Director David Yates has shown he has really settled into his Potter shoes, which bodes well for the final two instalments. So what is better about this film than the others?
1) Directing (and acting). David Yates has proved twice over he is absolutely an actor's director. He gets actors to invest themselves in their roles, and it shows, with FINALLY somewhat solid performances from Daniel Radcliffe, and, the main shocker: Emma Watson is actually pretty damn good in this one! Gambon is on absolute top form as Dumbledore, and acts as a slap to the face of the Gambledore nay sayers. Here he looks the part, sounds the part, and acts the part. Not that he's never done any of those in the previous few films. New addition Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn brings real emotional weight to the film, as well as a few chuckles.
He's worked brilliantly here with screenwriter Steve Kloves and together they have managed to produce a more relaxed, yet emotionally packed and foreboding atmosphere in Prince. Things have been changed from the book, yes, but unless you're a purist (purists are not the ones with the opinion you want to trust, the moment anything changes from their precious book, for better or for worse, it is product of the devil's work) you're really not going to care because these additions/changes/subtractions are, 98%, done for absolutely the right reasons. Who can honestly say the film wouldn't have dragged with the addition of the Burrow attack, or the slightly enhanced amount of comedy from the book? Some may say the film drags anyway, but I have personally found those of that opinion that I've come across so far are Michael Bay lovers.
2) Score. Boy is this a step up from the somewhat mediocre score of Order of the Phoenix. In fact, this score has made it ahead of the Prisoner of Azkaban score to be my favourite. It almost makes me sad to know that Hooper is not returning. But this soundtrack is ambience used at it's absolute best, atmospheric, emotional and yet, in places, simple. Simple and subtle, and we all know how underrated subtlety is.
3) Cinematography. Do I really need to say anything about this? Bruno Delbonnel is a fantastic cinematographer, his style means each shot almost looks like a beautiful painting.
What else was good? The pacing is more..."calm" than Order of the Phoenix's and never reaches the Goblet of Fire's jolting break-neck speed, let's-get-everything-over-and-done-with first third. Though there are one or two small patchy places where a bit more time could have been taken. Overall though, good.
Set design is on top form as usual, with the stunning half-real-half-not-real cave, Tom Riddle's Orphanage, Slughorn's office and the Astronomy Tower being the four main new sets.
CGI is a step up from Order of the Phoenix (which was let down only by their experimentation with Grawp), with the inferi being downright creepy and environmental effects, such as the majority of the Cave and the ink-splodges of the pensieve.
Unfortunately, one member of the cast is a little behind everyone else on acting talent, but she's hardly to blame for that, considering the amount of lines she's had in the past. I'm talking about Bonnie Wright, who often is fairly good, but fails to be natural in a couple of places and it is jarringly...uncomfortable...to watch.
I'm thoroughly looking forward to the final two films, now that I know they are safely in the hands of the series' best director.