I almost loved the new Harry Potter movie. I did like it a lot. It's much more dramatic than any of its predecessors, and while ridiculous on one level, very real and identifiable on another. Considering it was the first jumbo-sized book in the series, they did a great job of boiling it down to the bare essentials.
See, Goblet of Fire is the pivotal book of the series. It raises the stakes from a cutesy make-believe school story to a legitimate fantasy story with major implications within its universe. It doesn't exactly drop the cutesy-poo stuff, but there are serious implications to Harry's story from here on out. The paradigm shift at the end of Goblet leaves Hogwarts, as well as the rest of the world, in a state of utter disarray. Dumbledore is barking out orders like a field general, people are panicking, nobody knows what's happening... but things are definitely whirling out of control, and there's an associated adrenaline rush to all the madness. Essentially, the book essentially ends with a big, fat "WTF?!?" It's the Empire Strikes Back of the Potter series, though the parallels are only contextual.
Unfortunately, very little of that devastation is is conveyed in the film. It does the job in terms of exposition, but not all that well. I imagine the 9-year-olds in the audience would beg to differ, but I didn't sense that Hogwarts was different in any way; as far as the movie is concerned, it was just another wacky old year at Hogwarts. Except for minor details like, you know, (spoiler alert) Voldemort coming back and fucking killing people. Instead, there's this whole theme about international unity and friendship and stuff that overrides the difficult times that lie ahead. Having an apparent return to normalcy instead of a seismic shift doesn't do right by the story.
Oh well. Maybe they'll make Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince more devastating, now that parents know what their kids are in for.