Once again I shall try to beat the rush of reviews by about nine hours. Don't worry, the movie doesn't suck... well, at least that is not the view of a Harry Potter fan from his first viewing. It was exciting, daring, fun, frightening and of course beautiful. Most of the problems the movie had reminded me of The Sorcerers Stone its problems.
What do you do with tons of characters and plot lines? The first movie dealt with this issue in a straight forward way: get as much in as possible and don't worry about the rest. Movie three, The Prisoner of Azkaban, had a much better approach: tell a story that people will remember. As an audience member, the story is what I really want to see, not a useless interaction that pertains to nothing in the movie. In movie one I felt Nearly Headless Nick was pretty pointless, yet he spoke more than just a few lines. Movie four has that sort of character, and her name is Rita Skeeter. She is introduced, makes a fuss over, and then is dropped like owl guano out of the plot. I couldn't tell you, at this point, what purpose she had in the film at all.
The new director lacks something... oh.... what is that thing called? Oh yeah! Subtlety (something I wasn't blessed with either). At times I felt like I was being prodded in the rib by the director as if he was asking for my acceptance. To his credit there were fits of greatness in the film, some of Mad Eye Moody's scenes were absolutely wonderful, but with so much plot to plow through it is a wonder we got so see any character development at all. Maybe that sort of attention to detail was just leftovers from Prisoner (which was the best "movie" out of the four, although some complain it was too unfaithful to the book).
When all was said and done the movie was still a pleasure. To see the book on film was a treat, with wonderful visuals and pretty good acting as a whole to boot just made my day. At times it was even thrilling and almost scary, but just heed this caution: If you don't already know the subtext you won't learn it from this film (exceptions being blatantly obvious non-subtle pokes in the rib).