Posted on Friday, November 25, 2005 at 12:00 AM
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The latest incarnation of J.K. Rowling's series of wizarding school has met with highly favorable reviews. The world of reviews, however, is decidedly divided into two camps. Those that have read the book and those that have not. Every reviewer that has read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has numerous positive things to say about the movie. Given that they know the plot and the nitty gritty of the book the movie would therefore simply be an extension of something already enjoyed. Those that have not read the book, however, are generally favorable of the movie.
I am not. Though other reviewers have formed the same opinion as I have, their reasons behind their dissatisfaction generally falls upon different subjects. My primary headshake has to do with the manner by which the movie covers the plotline of the book.
If we liken the book to a lake then the movie itself is a stone cast skipping across it. The opening 20 minutes of the movie bounce so quickly through scenes that you are, in the end, left wondering why those scenes were included since there is so little in the way of import attached to them. Combine that with cinematography that is continually too close or too far away, at an odd angle from below or an obtuse angle from above and you get the feeling that were you to finally sink into the lake that feeling of distortion and leaping narrative would disappear.
I have read the books. I knew what could happen in the movie and what would happen in the movie. So I was not particularly surprised as the stone skipped over many parts in what would doubtlessly make a 5 hour movie had its entire depth been plumbed. And I also admit that each subsequent movie, based on each subsequent book, will be of greater and greater difficulty for screenwriters and directors alike due to the mounting meta-plot enmeshed in the sub-plot of each book. But the movie is written by fans of the material who delighted in particular scenes and acknowledge that certain of them need remain to appease those hungry fans.
Let us take, for example, the quidditch world cup, which predominates the first 1/3 of the book. In the movie the characters are roused from bed, proceed to the boot portkey on the top of a hill and are immediately spun to a campsite where witches and wizards abound in anticipation of The Quidditch World Cup. The characters settle in and relax in a spacious four room pup tent with a fully functional kitchen and then jump up to rush off to the game where they are seated in the attic of the game's stadium. We then see the entrance of the Irish team followed by the Bulgarian team. Cut scene to the Weasley twins celebrating Ireland's win. Quidditch, afterall, isn't important to the meta-plot, but since everything preceding it and following it is of great import, those things need to be shown, but not the game. The only problem is that those plot devices are concealed by the fervent enjoyment of the Quidditch game; while in the movie they are shown in stark relief so brightly it's like they are zeroed in on and backlit by the sun.
Reviewers have been torn regarding the acting in the movie. Several state that it has become easy to denote the professionals from the children, whereas several others remark that our central 3 characters have grown into the characters exceptionally well. The director of Four Weddings and a Funeral definitely shows his roots in romantic comedy in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in some of the rare scenes of lightness and wizarding school normalcy.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is worth the price of admission and snacks. It is even worth paying for the date's ticket. But it isn't the finest movie ever made. It lacks the sense of wonder the first two films possessed and also the dramatic plot and drama of the third movie. It has its own charm though, which is why I believe it's a 3 stars out of 4.
Kyle Gould is a University of Calgary Graduate in English devoutly trying to make the 25,000 dollar piece of parchment not just a glorified ink blot. Currently it would serve better as a Rorschach test. Feel free to throw some ink his way at firstname.lastname@example.org.