By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin December 8, 2009 at 1:24AM
Everyone is buzzing about the dark story that unfolds in the newest Harry Potter movie, but what delighted me was the humor and charm of this episode. Usually these films open on a light note and then get serious; this one opens with a shocker and then settles into a lighter mode, easing us into...
the serious aspects of the tale. It’s disarming and fun to watch.
Little did we dream when we first encountered Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint eight years ago that we would become so attached to these young actors, and enjoy the experience of watching them grow up on camera. In this film they experience puppy love and the swirl of emotions that accompanies that crucial part of adolescence.
The Potter series has also been a glorious showcase for the finest actors in Ireland and Great Britain, and this one is no exception. Jim Broadbent is featured as a potions professor who is persuaded to return to Hogwarts because of a past experience he would rather forget. Michael Gambon takes center stage as Dumbledore, with many of his colleagues (Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, et al.) reduced to small supporting roles this time around. The notable exception is Alan Rickman, as Professor Snape, who possesses the greatest sneer known to mankind.
My only reservation about the film is, that like so many others in the series, it’s long. I suppose this is inevitable, given the size and density of J.K. Rowlings’ novels. Some of the film adaptations are annoyingly episodic; this one, by series veteran Steve Kloves, and directed by David Yates, flows much better, but at a certain point its energy level drops dramatically, and I was all too aware that we had reached the two-hour mark, with a half-hour left to go.
Still in all, this is a welcome addition to the Harry Potter saga, and another chapter in one of the most ambitious and successful film series of all time.