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gil 12th Dec 2005 15:44

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
How sad is this? Gil and Beryl, 60+ year-olds, on their first opportunity to go to the movies since last festive season, choose Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And, boy, are we glad we did! It was a cracking good movie. I think it'd be difficult for someone who hadn't read the books, but even they would have to admit that it was first class.

As usual, the art direction / set design was super plus excellent. The cgi was wonderful and seamless. Most of the acting was very good, too, though I have never been entirely taken with the chap who plays Harry.

The only problem is that, even with quite a long movie, you don't get quite enough of everything (though, in the case of the teen romance content, that's a big relief). Not enough Miranda Richardson, Gary Oldman or Alan Rickman. A few small liberties are taken with the plot, but they are largely beneficial, and apparently met with la Rowling's approval.

The high spots:
  • When the dragon is clinging to the slate roof of the castle, desperately trying to kill Harry, and its claws are scratching, breaking, dislodging the tiles
  • When the ship carrying some of the contestants rises from the lake
  • The big views of the castle and surrounding countryside
  • Tom Bell's "funny walk" and the premature cannons (not in the book, but excellent)
  • Mad-eye Moody's spare eye - definite shades of a webcam
Mike Newell (of 4 Weddings and a Funeral) was the director - his first HP movie and definitely the best HP movie so far.

Now, no-one is pretending this was Great Art, but if you go to the cinema these days (as opposed to renting a DVD and watching it at home) then what you want is SPECTACLE. And this film delivers. Oh, and there's no sex in it. Sorry.

Highly recommended ****0

Colyngbourne 12th Dec 2005 16:16

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I am so glad you've put this review up, gil. I didn't bother when I came back from the States (though I blabbed to everyone in RL about the film) but now I feel prompted to put something down.

In my Film Review list I slapped down "Drool-worthy Cedric...and Barty JR.... and Lucius...and Snape. Fast and furious but it needed to be. Superlative Fiennes as usual." Which indicates a certain preoccupation, I guess, but the other kind of review goes into detail. So some more now...

Goblet of Fire is such a chunky book and the tasks seem to go on for ever, so the film certainly needed that speed, and even the first ten minutes were crucial in getting the plot going. So what if we didn't get to see the Quidditch World Cup match itself? We don't live in the Wizarding World and it has nothing to do with the plot, save instituting Krum as Ron's idol.

Thank goodness the plot was extricated from the hands of drunken house-elves and reared instead from the simple emnity of father and son Barty Crouches. The convolutions of Mr Toad-like body-swapping in Azkaban and the duplications of Barty's on the Marauders Map weren't needed here and the story was stripped down to essentials. Poor Draco and Lucius got short shrift in this one but Films 5 and 6 should give them their due in time.

The action scenes were simple and shocking - I still feel the ancient brutality of that first task: the arena of craggy rock and the dragon in place of lions, and Harry as gladiator. The idea that this is a tournament to the death and yards of *schoolchildren* are sitting watching their friend come close to dying for the sake of a inter-school trophy is astonishing. I was frankly surprised that Hermione, if no-one else, remained in the stadium to watch Harry thrown about by the dragon. It makes a good forewarning for what happens at the end of the book, a very moving and distressing finish to the tournament.

Mad-Eye was great - not quite Irish enough for my liking (that's down to my own reading-aloud to the children); Cedric was swoony and dear Neville! I could kiss Mike Newell for the generosity in his wonderful treatment of Neville in this film: the dancing in the dorm, the shoes tied around his neck, the gillyweed donation. It's setting the character nicely in context ready for Film 5 and that's important and good, especially as there are some directors who don't even bother to read the book or the other books in case it 'taints' their pure vision.I also noticed the 'premature firing' of the cannon - it was a good running gag.

I was saddened at the loss of Percy and his concern for Ron in the 2nd challenge: that is going to make it so much easier for us to hate him in Film 5 rather than remember that he *is* a good brother in some ways. Also there was some depth lost in the relationship between Crouch father and son, and no explanation given of why the boys are going all gaga over the Beauxbatons girls (they're part-Veela, a siren-like creature). I also wondered that if the tournament had been held in Durmstrang or Beauxbatons, what the Hogwarts champions and accompanying students would have 'performed' on walking into the Great Hall.

The graveyard scene was a little foreshortened, with the potion being mixed rather too quickly (some of the 1st task could have donated some spare seconds to add to this scene) but Voldemort's reincarnation was superb and he looked so Fiennes whilst retaining some essential snakiness and evil-overlord features.

But not enough Snape as usual. The films (and books) are holding out on us still, but Rickman's moments were good: the scene in his potions cupboard and the reasoning with Dumbledore and McGonagall being stand-out in the way they pointed towards the complications in his character. I understand some people hated Dumbledore in this film, partly for not being Richard Harris still, but also because he came across as more hard-edged and not as twinkly and friendly as they want him to be. Well, I think they're reading a different Dumbledore in the books - he is secretive and sometimes manipulative and harsh in his treatment of Harry. Gambon gives us a sense that we can still trust him, as can Harry, but things are not going to be easy any more. If students can be murdered and the 'War' is about to begin again, then twinkly is not what we need.

maxivida 12th Dec 2005 17:45

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Hear, hear! I absolutely agree with everything you guys said, and have little to add as Col's review is so detailed. I didn't know that Fiennes was cast as Voldemort, and you can imagine my surprise and joy when I saw that amazing CGI metamorphosis climax with his own instantly recognisable eyes. I was on verge of applauding.

Digger 12th Dec 2005 17:50

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
mmmm ralph feinnes. Sigh. I had fun in this and agree with Col and Gil too. I did think they needed to explain about the veela though as well - after all they had the leprachauns at the world cup (which was excellent - great stadium!).

Also liked the dragon clawing it's way around the castle roof. Had plenty of fun watching the tasks in general but wished the maze had had a bit more stuff rather than just ravenous hedges, although really it was fine.

maxivida 12th Dec 2005 18:33

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I'd just like to add that 'vila' (pronounced veela) means 'fairy' in Serbian. As in 'creature of the folklore', not 'homosexual'. :lol:

NottyImp 13th Dec 2005 14:53

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

As in 'creature of the folklore', not 'homosexual'.
So, er, what is Serbian for "homosexual"?

maxivida 13th Dec 2005 17:35

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Er, we don't have homosexuals in Serbia. Just big mean men with guns. :twisted:

NottyImp 14th Dec 2005 11:59

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Er, we don't have homosexuals in Serbia.
Well, I didn't ask you that. ;-)

maxivida 14th Dec 2005 12:47

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
OK, OK :-) A homosexual is 'homoseksualac' if you want to be nice, and 'peder' if you want to be homophobic.

jim 14th Dec 2005 13:10

Re: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
So Neville is going to become more important in the next films? Blimey, he really is a stand out appalling actor amongst some pretty stiff competition from the rest of the kids. Poor child acting apart, I really liked this and it was my second favourite so far after the first one.

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