starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Brendan Gleeson, Stanislav Ianevski, Robert Pattinson, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Ralph Fiennes and Clemence Poesy
written by Steve Kloves
directed by Mike Newell
I saw this one in a movie theater. It’s not what I usually do. I usually wait until a film comes out on VHS video or on DVD. But it was a special holiday outing for us, and it was good.
This is the fourth installment off the Harry Potter series, the second featuring Michael Gambon as Hogwarts headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, and the first to be directed by a Briton. I don’t like Gambon’s Dumbledore as much as I liked Richard Harris’ Dumbledore. But Harris is dead, so what can you do? Harris’ Dumbledore character felt more gentle and grandfatherly than Gambon’s character.
This film was long, dark and scary. But there was some comedy mixed in with the relationship of the three main protagonists - Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. In this film the villainous student Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and his unpleasant house master, Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) are almost completely abandoned as the action moves to other characters.
Most interesting in this film is the development of romantic relationships among the students. The trio of friends are now 14-years
old, and although we could tell from the first film that Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger liked each other, they have been using hostility to hide it from others. Harry is yearning for a girlfriend, but he is so confused and distracted by other things that a female companion for him is not yet identified, although fellow student Cho Chang (Katie Leung) is the favorite. Harry and Ron, and the other boys as well, have to tackle the problem of asking girls on dates because an intra-school Christmas ball is part of this school year’s program. It sets up some really funny episodes out of which it is nice to see Neville Longbottom (Mathew Lewis) excel at something for a change: herbology and ballroom dance.
My favorite scenes are when Harry fights a dragon (a Hungarian Razorback), and when he dives to the world of the Merpeople at the bottom of the Black Lake; also, (female) Professor McGonagall’s attempt to give her male and female students dance structions so they will not embarrass the Gryffindor House at the Christmas ball.
In every film there is a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. This time it is Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson). He is the best character in the job so far. I have seen Brendan Gleeson in a number of films before, and I must say that the older he gets the more like his father, Jackie Gleeson, he looks. It’s not a bad thing.