Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire–After You See It

                                                                                                                                          9:44 p.m.   4/22/06

 
Harry Potter fans, we have a burgeoning dilemma on our hands.  It started, well, really, right from the start, but more so with the latest movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  What’s the dilemma?  It is this.  J.K. Rowling seems determined to write the next War and Peace, increasing each book exponentially.  This a problem when it comes to the big screen because how on earth can one pare down a tome of epic proportions to a mere two and a half hours?  Well, there is more than one way, but Mike Newell decides to jettison most of the emotional tenor of the story and simply focus on the action.  Oh, I still haven’t gotten to the dilemma, but I’m making my way there, don’t you worry.  Here it is.  The movie is a satisfactory adventure flick if you haven’t read the book.  However, if you haven’t read the book, you probably don’t know what the hell is going on.  See how that might be a problem? 

First of all, Hermione (Emma Watson) has breasts.  This is disturbing on so many levels.  I know, I know, they’re growing up, but still.  Ron (Rupert Grint) looks twenty-five whereas Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) looks seventeen, which is about how old Radcliffe is.  Draco (Tom Felton) looks older as well, the little we see of him.  See, this is another problem.  Not enough of the regulars.  I know, I know, that’s part of the story, but it’s hard to care about the new people because I don’t know them.  Victor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski), Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy), and Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) do fine jobs with what they have, but that isn’t much.  Oh, I also object that the only thing we see Fleur do is scream like a girl in the maze and fail the underwater task.  It would have been nice to see her doing well. 

Now, for the adult portion of the review—where the hell are Snape (Alan Rickman) and Lucius (Jason Isaacs)?  I couldn’t believe how long it took before Snape actually had a line.  I was fearful that he’d go the entire movie without speaking.  Sure, I love looking at him, and sure, he does physical acting very well—the added scene where he forces Potter and Ron to study is hilarious, and he does it all without saying a word, but still!  As for Lucius, I’m glad he got a few juicy lines in at the end or I would have been sorely disappointed.  They damn well better get David Thewlis as Lupin for the next movie so I can have the three of them in one movie.  And Alan is secured, so yay!  The next book is fat with Snape stuff, so there should be plenty of Alan.  Oh, can I say that James Phelps as Fred Weasley is getting cute, too?  The two new boys are cute as well.  Damn it, it’s a family movie, Minna!  Get your mind out of the gutter.

Actually, it’s not a family movie.  It’s the first rated PG-13, and it’s definitely more intense than the first three.  My niece has seen the first three movies, but she’s going to have to wait a few years (she’s seven) before seeing this one.  As for Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, well, I’m torn.  His acting is brilliant, but he looks like a turtle.  Now, I don’t know about you, but turtles don’t scare me.  Then again, I’m not a kid, so what do I know?  However, he is a great choice as Voldemort as he’s scary just standing there.  He also lends that edge of madness to the character and not an ounce of humanity.  Yet, he seems like a real person and not a monster.  Quite the nice acting job, Ralph. 

The thing that I keep coming back to while watching this movie is that I have no emotional investment in anything or anyone.  Again, I’m looking at is as if I’ve never watched or read a Potter movie/book before.  I’m pretending that I’m coming into this cold, and there’s no emotional content in this movie.  I feel as if it’s the Cliff Notes for the book, touching on this event and this event before moving onto this event.  In the book, I got to know Cedric enough to care that he dies.  In the movie, I just shrug.  Also, there is no way you can figure out the mystery in the movie whereas you have a fighting chance in the book. 

Can I just repeat how much I love the scene in which Harry and Ron are talking about asking out a girl to the Yule Ball and Snape keeps smacking them on the head?  My particular favorite is when he rolls his eyes, flicks up the cuffs of his, uh, whatever he’s wearing and really digs in.  It’s great.  He’s great.  I still believe he’s for the good, but that’s for a later review.  This is a scene that isn’t in the book, but I love it.  On the other hand, a little more emotional stuff could have been added before putting in this scene, but then I wouldn’t get to see the delectable Alan Rickman doing his thing.  I reluctantly think, however, that it’s more important to add things from the book than to make up new scenes. 

The movie zips along for being so long.  I think it’s because it’s all action.  I love Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter, but that’s one storyline that just peters out.  She has a much bigger role in the book, and an important one.  Dropping it rips off a layer of the story and leaves it a bit less satisfying.  More background before the plunge into the tournament would be nice, as well, but it’s understandable why they dispense with the back-story.  I don’t like it, but this movie is committed to the fans who’ve read the books.  I am also mad that the Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane)/Madame Olympe Maxime (Frances de la Tour) storyline got the short shrift.  I love the whole giant aspect and am really perturbed it isn’t played out more.  By the way, de la Tour was in a Poirot movie.  Proves my theory that most Brits have been in a Poirot and now a Potter.  I want Bill Nighy to be in a Potter.  I have no idea whom he would play, but make it so.

Visually, this movie is gorgeous, as usually.  Aurally, the same.  Mood and atmosphere galore.  Brendan Gleeson as Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody is terrific as is David Tennant (the new Dr. Who!) as Barty Crouch Junior.  Roger Lloyd-Pack as Barty Crouch (also in a Poirot episode, one I haven’t seen yet) does an adequate job, but he should be in the movie more.  It amazes me how the guest stars continue to shine.  It’s great.  The Yule Ball is sumptuous as well, and Hermione is just lovely.  Give it up for the Scottish Katie Leung as Cho Chang.  I keep thinking Cho is her last name because it’s not really a first name, but yay for the Asian chick.  Daniel Radcliffe says in the extras that he’s looking forward to kissing her. 

Anyway, I liked the movie without really getting anything from it.  The tension between Ron and Harry is glossed over like it’s nothing.  That’s really how everything happens in the movie—as if it’s nothing.  This movie, more than the other three, really has no staying power.  It’s likable enough as you’re watching it, but eminently forgettable.  For how visually phenomenal it is, it’s really a shame the emotional doesn’t match.
 
Re:  the extras.  Worth watching, I guess.  I liked the bit about the three newcomers the best as well as the deleted scenes, especially the one of Snape.  So, do I recommend this for your Netflix Queue?  Yes.  It’s worth watching if you don’t expect much from it.  I’m sure the younger set, the rabid Potter fans will love it.  The older viewers can at least enjoy the special effects.

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