Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

August 16, 2010

This is far from my favorite book and I guess its no surprise that I consequently don’t really enjoy the movie which feels like a race more than a story with the characters even walking quickly as they move from place to place.  I’m not sure if Mike Newell, the director, is really to blame here.  Steve Kloves, the screenwriter, wrote each of the scripts with he exception of Order of the Phoenix so its hard to say.  There’s just too much to cover and, unlike some of the other book plots, very little can be left out of this one – imagine cutting one of the three tasks.  Nevertheless I don’t enjoy being hurried from one scene to the next.  The elements they do cut entirely (like Ludo Bagman) destabilize the plot and contribute even more to it feeling like a slide show but in a way I wish they’d cut a little more dramatically and left time for a few emotional breaths.  If I hadn’t read the books the film would have made no sense at all.

Here’s what makes me crazy:

The things they change: Why did they make Beaubatons and Durmstrang single gender schools?  I guess if you’re a boy in France or a girl in an unspecified-northern-european-region you don’t get to go to wizarding school.

The things they add: Once again the little violent sight gags, like Hagrid accidentally stabbing Flitwick in the hand with a fork at the high table while flirting with Madame Maxime, are distracting and infuriating.  And does Dumbledore spend the entire movie yelling?  Michael Gambon is a wonderful actor so I have to blame the direction.  Putting ferret Draco into Goyle’s pants?  What?  And Ron turning the first year class into his minonsWhy, Hollywood? Why?

The things the just do badly: Hermione’s horrible dress.  Her horrible horrible dress.  Only matched by her horrible screeching reaction to not enough provocation by the guys at the end of the dance.

The gratuitous action sequences: The First Task was far too similar to the video game it was obviously intended to be turned into.   I was furious that they wasted five whole minutes, a movie eternity, on added nonsense of  crashing brooms and destroying Hogwarts castle and its surroundings, which could have been much better spent on emotional realism elsewhere in the movie.

And then there’s Myrtle: She gets a category to herself because shes SO AWFUL.  It was stupid in Chamber of Secrets when they cast an adult with a weird voice to play a dead teenager.  Now its just disturbing.  Its undeniably creepy when you give the line “nearly all the bubbles had gone” to a 40 year old woman sitting next to a naked 14 year old in a tub.  What were they thinking?

Overall I just don’t have much patience with this movie.  It doesn’t really go anywhere or say anything to me – it just illustrates the various events that happen in book four.  The musical score doesn’t really help either – its lost the sacharine cuteness of John Williams’ scores but picked up a heavy handed edginess that doesn’t blend well into the feel of the action.

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