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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
It's pretty good, actually. It probably isn't as good as The Prisoner of Azkaban, but Goblet of Fire was a much more difficult book to adapt. Rest assured it's worth seeing and that you will enjoy yourself in the process. Now, allow me to nitpick for the remainder of this post.
  • Because of the length and relative complexity of the source material, the movie feels very episodic -- we jump around from plot point to plot point without a lot of unity or connection between bits. And a few of these episodes last a little too long, the Yule Dance sequence probably being the best example. (Emma Watson does a very good job at the very end of this sequence, though, almost justifying its length.)

  • It would have been nearly impossible to depict a Voldemort that would have satisfied everybody, but they certainly didn't. The movie Voldemort doesn't have the awe-inspiring presence he needs to have, either before or after his revivial -- this just doesn't seem like someone Who Must Not Be Named. Perhaps this is something they can work on for Order of the Phoenix.

  • On the plus side, contrary to early reports, the new Dumbledore wasn't as bad as he was in the third movie. I still miss the old Dumbledore, though.

  • Brendan Gleeson puts everyone to shame as Mad-Eye Moody; he's fantastic.

  • Aside from the above-mentioned pacing issues, the movie flows fairly well to a climax that really leaves you anxious for #5 and #6, the best books in the series and the movies I'm most looking forward to. Unlike the more hardcore fans I wasn't bothered by the plot changes and eliminations, mostly because I read the book so long ago I hardly remembered some of the finer points until Jaimee and Jennifer reminded me. I was actually surprised that I remembered several of Rowling's turns of phrase so exactly, particularly in the final graveyard scene; perhaps she's a better writer than I give her credit.

  • On the other hand, many of the movie's least satisfying moments and logical problems stem not from directorial decision but from the bizarre contortions of Rowling's imaginary world. Never before have Neil's complaints about Harry Potter sports been more apropos -- the winner of the first two pointless events in the Triwizard Tournament gains a fifteen-second head start in the third.

  • Other things make even less sense. The teachers' concerns about Harry entering the tournament, for instance, are completely undercut by the apparent willingness of these same teachers to purposefully risk other students' lives in the second event. (And if those lives weren't really at risk, then there's no reason why Harry should be rewarded for his attempt to save more than one. In fact there's no reason to use real people at all.) In the first event, what safeguards were in place to protect the crowd from the dragons? Seemingly none.

  • Likewise, it must be said that wizarding technology is absurdly inefficient. (Yes, I know it's a kid's book. Even so.)
  • So go see it for yourself.

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