Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire review by Cinema Guru BoyHarry Potter has become a cultural phenomenon. So to discuss the newest film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, like Star Wars, it is the details that matter. So they must be discussed here, so I am forced to administer and full-fledged Spoiler Warning. I will not, however, mention anything that happens beyond Year Four, so fans of exclusively the film and not the books, you have no worries here. So I must also state my position on the phenomenon as well. I am an intense Potterhead. I've read the novels multiple times as well as countless companion books, and have endless hypothosized on future events of the saga. The Chris Columbus segment of the series, Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, were fine films, but lacked the imagination and mystique of the novels, they were just straightforward dramatizations of the words in the novels. Then Alfonso Cuaron came along with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Although less loyal to the word of the page, shaving subplots and only using what was absolutely essential to the primary plot line, the spirit of the page shone through magnificently. Many intense novel fans were dissillusioned that it strayed more than the first two installments, but this darker interpretation was far more appropriate for this tale of good vs. evil. Mike Newell entirely built upon Cuaron's work rather than Columbus's, which was the right thing to do.
The problem with this film, however, was the choppiness of the screenplay. I know it's not easy condesing a 700-page novel into a 2-and-a-half-hour film (approxiamtely 150 page script), and Kloves must be commended for the job that he did. But the film did suffer. The Dursleys are gone. Harry's (Daniel Radcliff)part of the film begins with the journey to the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasley family, but as soon as they show up, the filmmakers skip the match, jumping immediately to the afterglow. And we get to see the Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort's followers, who look very similar to a parade of Klansmen in masks creepier than anything I imagined while readin the novel, terrorizing the Quidditch fans. but for a total of about 3 seconds. This was an important scene, and glossing over it was inapporpriate. It implied they were doing so on Voldemort's behalf, when quite the opposite was true, as Voldemort supporter Barty Crouch Jr (David Tennant) thrust Voldemort's batsignal, the Dark Mark, into the sky in protest of the Death Eaters, as opposed to in conjunction with them, as the film implied. During the climax, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) makes it clear that the Death Eaters were not ever acting under his orders in the past 13 years, which contridicts this parade as the filmmakers have it. Maybe a moot point, but I'd have like ot have seen this rampage much more fleshed out.
Well before you know it, Harry is at school with Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), as Hogwarts is joined by a dozen teenage witches from the French school Beaubatons, accompanied by headmistress Madame Maxine (Frances de la Tour), and a dozen teenage wizards from the Bulgarian school Durmstrang, accompanied by head master Igor Karkaroff (Pedja Bjelac). At this point, Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) introduces the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (Brenden Gleeson) and announces the participation of the three schools in the Triwizard Tournament. Everything happens very quickly, and before you know it, we're at the first task with Beaubatons champion Fluer Delacour (Clemence Posey), Durmstrang champion Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ivanevski), Hogwarts champion Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), and Harry Potter, who was mysteriously illegally entered into the tournament. But the tasks are what this film is truely about. Amazing, exciting action sequences, demonstrating Harry's potential as an incredibly powerful wizard.
Kloves and Newell kept one of the best plotlines of the novel, as Ron becomes angry with Harry, who Ron believes entered the tournament without confiding in his best friend. Rupert Grint was given more to do than make goofy faces (which he does very well in Years One, Two and Three) and show some legitimate emotion, which Grint nails flawlessly. Unfortunately for Emma Watson, her major plotline from the novel, the formation of a lobbyist group promoting the liberation of house elves (like Chamber of Secrets's Dobby), was entirely omitted from the film. This is, however, fortunate for fans, as not only was the plotline lame and irrelatent in the novel, it allowed for the omission of the epitomy of annoying characters, Dobby and Winky. Sorry, Emma, but you had your day in the spotlight by being the hero of Prisoner of Azkaban's climax. Gleeson was given a number of juicy moments, such as Moody's first DADA class in which he performed the trhee Unforgivable Curses in spiders (but unfortunately not the Imperius Curse on Harry as in the novel) and his disciplinary actions upon Harry's nemesis, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), before being scolded by Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith). Gleeson pulls these moments off reasonably well.
The first task was stunning, as Harry and the other champion must remove a golden egg gaurded by enormous fire-breathing dragons. I would say this sequence and this sequence alone should merit this year's Oscar for Visual Effects, but I don't think it was a visual effect. I'm pretty sure Mike Newell somehow located an actual Hungarian Horntail dragon to participate in the making of the film. Although the sequence was shallow and meant only to thrill viewers with an exciting chase scene, it worked on me. The whole thing was so exhilerating, it was worth a break from the plot to watch a dragon fly around on screen. Which brings us to the Yule Ball. This was reasonably unimportant, as it could've been cut to make room for more important plot points, but teenage novel loyalists would've pitched an intense fit to have had this sequence deleted. It did, however, advance the imminent and subtle Ron-Hermione loveline. So, it did serve some purpose and give the important, albeit butchered-in-the-film characters of Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) more screen time, and frankly, Lewis deserves it.
Which brings us to task Two, in which Neville is given further character development, as the films finally recognize the novel's character's gift for herbology. As the four champions use different methods to embark upon an adventure underwater to retrive a hostage each, this give Newell, the visual effects department and the art design department all kinds of creative outlets to show their stuff, and everyone was entirely sccessful. The depictions of the grindywalds and the merpeople were spot-on. There's little doubt about how much passion went into this project, as it showed beautifully. Then we have task three, in which most all of the obstacles in the labyrinth described in the book were removed, but is okay, as this was just a means to get to the climax, possible the most important scene in the entire saga as of this point.
As Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) kills Cedric and extracts blood from Harry to resurrect Lord Voldemort, the PG-13 rating becomes clearly justified. This sequence is scary, intense, and fascinating. When Voldemort shows himself, it almost seems impossible to imagine this moment to live up to the build-up. But the make-up artists need to be commended. He looked perfect. And Fiennes's presence radiates. The summoning of the Death Eaters and subsequent one-on-one duel between Harry and Voldemort was intense, and the depiction of Priori Incantatum was creepier, appropriately done, and much less cartoonish than I picture while reading the novel. It was so well-done across the board. And what follows is the most intense and goosebump-inducing scene in all four films. When Harry arrives back to Hogwarts with Cedric's corpse, Radcliff proves to all of his naysayers that he was perfect for this role. This scene needed him to step up his game and he nailed it. But then when Cedric's father, Amos (Jeff Rawle), sees this happen, and the camera shows his face change from total jubilee to total horror, it's hard to hold back the tears. This scene was perfect.
Then we have the big reveal in Moody's office, and the denoument in Harry's dormitory, it leaves the viewer entirely satisfied. Some minor problems with the overall scope of the film did exist. This was nobody's fault, but for the third film in a role, Severus Snape's (Alan Rickman) role was trivalized. Even more trivalized was Fleur and Krum, who were major players in this story, with maybe a total of 10 lines between them. A major, major plot point was left out, as Harry saw in the pensieve in Dumbledore's office, Barty Jr was arrested on Barty Sr's (Roger Lloyd Pack) orders and taken to Azkaban. Now, 10 years later, Barty Jr is out and about, helping Voldemort return to power, and no mention of how he thwarted the Dementor to escape Azkaban was ever given. The novel had a great subplot explaining this, and I can understand cutting for time restraints, but this issue needed to be confronted in some way. And his fate was different, in a bad way. Had they stayed loyal to the novel's fate of Barty Jr, it would provided some excellent character development for the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Oswald Fudge (Robert Hardy). But they didn't. And some sort of closure to Karkaroff's character was necessary but left unattended. In the novel he fled the scene, although it was ambiguous as whether he rejoined Voldemort's league or if he fled in fear of him and the Death Eaters he ratted on to get release from Azkaban himself (probably the latter). And there was one line in the graveyard scene from the book that was absolutely, positively needed, if not for just a cliffhanger, topic of debate, but for set-up for future events, and that was Voldemort telling the group of Death Eaters about six Death Eaters not in attendance because three are dead, one too cowardly to return, one gone forever, and his most loyal servant currently at Hogwarts. Who these six are is entirely debatable, but that line needed to be there.
One thing you'll hear of this film is how dark it is, but also needs to be creditied for its humor. Of the four film, it is definitely the funniest, aided in no small part to the expansion of the characters of Ron's twin brothers, Fred (James Phelps) and George (Oliver Phelps); confronting a 15-year-old's total lack of comfort around attractive girls, even if he is adept to battling dark wizards and racing dragons; and adding comic relif to the caretaker, Argus Filch (David Bradley) and his pet Kneazle, Mrs. Norris. Newell has shown his aptitude of comic timing, previously displayed in his films Four Weddings and a Funeral and Puching Tin. But like his "serious" films like Donnie Brasco and Enchanted April, the characters always came first. He displayed his talent for imagery and imagination, and was definitely a welcome addition to the Harry Potter universe.
8 out of 10 Jackasses blog comments powered by Disqus