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Rated PG-13 · 157 minutes
A marked disappointment after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), this fourth installment in the franchise is a 157-minute holding pattern in which neither of the ongoing stories—Harry's conflict with the evil sorcerer Voldemort, the young schoolmates' coming-of-age at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft—progresses much. The rangy plot centers on a magic decathlon between rival schools, allowing for the usual splendid special effects, but I was more charmed by a brief centerpiece in which the kids prepare for and attend their first prom—with the chronically embarrassed Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) being tutored in dance by the prim Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith). Mike Newell (Mona Lisa Smile) directed; with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, and far too little of Alan Rickman.

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