If this describes you too, you won't have any trouble with this movie. The one time I had even a speck of face trouble was a moment when Hermione was standing next to Harry in the room of requirement and she had her bushy hair pulled back. I didn't realize it was her until she talked. But it wasn't important to the plot.
If you haven't read the book, let me try to put myself in your shoes for a moment.
Oh. Wow, that faint sense of ennui from not having read Harry Potter makes me feel bad for you. OK, but the characters... Well, there ARE a lot of them. I mean, a LOT.
The main three characters are kids in their teens:
- Harry Potter, with round glasses and unruly but short dark hair.
- Hermione (pronounced her-MY-uh-knee) Granger, with semi-bushy, long, wavy, dark blond hair.
- Ron Weasley, with short red hair, sort of in a shaggy moptop. He's a little taller than Harry.
- Ron has brothers with similar hair, twins named Fred and George. They're taller and generally appear together.
- Ginny Weasley is Ron's sister, a year younger, and she has straight, long auburn hair.
- Neville Longbottom is a boy with dark hair, but no glasses, and his hair is longer than Harry's.
- Cho Chang is the girl Harry has a crush on; I believe she is the only girl of Asian ancestry in the whole movie.
- Luna Lovegood has very pale, straight, blond hair, and has an air of ethereal spaciness.
- Draco Malfoy, Harry's nemesis, is thin, pale, and has light blond hair. He's generally sneering.
- Dudley Dursley, Harry's muggle cousin, who only appears at the beginning of the movie with a bunch of his friends. He's large and looks sort of like he might be in a gang.
- Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster: Very old, very white, long white beard with a ponytail holder in the middle.
- Professor McGonagall: Old, thin-faced, severe witch, but on the good side. Teaches Transfiguration.
- Professor Snape: Pale, thirty-something man with dark, stringy, shoulder-length hair. Doesn't like Harry. Teaches Potions.
- Filch: Caretaker. Old, stringy-haired man. Sort of looks like he could be Snape's grandpa.
- Professor Umbridge: Small white woman with brown hair in an old-fashioned hairdo. Generally wearing pink clothes and a kitten brooch. Very nasty. Teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts.
- Professor Trelawney: Divination professor. Long, wavy blond hair and very thick, round glasses. She basically looks like a caricature of an aging hippie.
- Hagrid: Groundskeeper and teacher of Care of Magical Creatures. Half-giant, wild dark hair, can't miss 'im.
- Sirius Black: Harry's godfather and an old friend of Harry's dad. Has long, curly hair, and sort of dresses like a dandy pirate. He can turn into a dog.
- Remus Lupin: Another friend of Harry's dad, who's a werewolf.
- Tonks: A young witch who can change what she looks like, including adding a pig nose or turning her hair interesting colors. I can do this too, it just requires hair dye and a plastic snout with elastic on it!
- Mr. and Mrs. Weasley: Parents of Ron, among other redheaded kids. (Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron and Ginny.) Mrs. Weasley is middle aged and acts as Harry's mom-substitute. Mr. Weasley works for the Ministry and is obsessed with Muggles -- he takes Harry in for a hearing early in the movie.
And Voldemort? Well, you'll know him by the pale, noseless, evil appearance!
So there are lots of people, but they do look reasonably distinct, except the Weasley boys, and two of them are supposed to be twins! I'd say for people who have never read the book, this movie would be very confusing, but for those who have, it will be no problem.
Also because I am such a huge Harry Potter fan, I can't really evaluate it critically. It was very exciting towards the end, but obviously the book was very thick and huge sections had to be left out. I think they ended up with a very good movie. But you can read reviews from unbiased sources at Rotten Tomatoes.
If you do see it in IMax 3D, only the 20 minutes or so of exciting action scenes at the end are in 3D. An icon flashes to let you know when to put on your special glasses. It was pretty cool, if a tiny bit headache-inducing for some, but if you don't live near an IMax theater, I wouldn't worry about missing that aspect of it.
Good movie? 4/5
Good for FB Folks? 4/5 (Splitting the difference: 3/5 if you've never read the book, 5/5 if you have)
More reviews: Salon.com