Thursday, 8 December 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

I have decided I need to write in this blog more. Since I love critiquing things, I figured I should start reviewing stuff - films, books, concerts, anything I see/hear/observe and have an opinion about (which is most things). I have been thinking about doing this for awhile and decided I should start, now that the first review will be Harry Potter, so here we go...

Much better the second time
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I knew I'd be disappointed… In case you don't already know, I am a bit obsessive about Harry Potter (I can hear my family and friends laughing at the "a bit" description - they would probably use the term VERY). I have read all 6 books several times and love to draw associations between HP and the 'real' world. Anyway, I digress…

So we did something that I try not to do and watched it first at home on a very dodgy copy we acquired. This was possibly the best thing I did in preparing myself to watch the film in the cinema. I was able to comment aloud on the things they did wrong or totally misinterpreted and come to terms with the things they had changed, with another HP fan beside me to agree and discuss (yes, over the top of the film - I realised how much so when I re-watched and noticed things I had completely missed). I am not going to go into depth about the things that annoyed me, but here are the standouts:

  • The whole Death Eater/Voldemort/Barty Crouch Jnr thing was handled pretty badly… They twisted and contorted it so much that even I was confused at times, even though I knew what should be happening. Voldemort wasn't scary - more hyperactive. The Death Eaters weren't really scary either - they just looked like a try-hard mob marching through the campsite - it was the people going crazy that gave the scene its energy.

  • Hermione made me a bit sad, and not intentionally. She was a bit too girly-emotional, especially in the Yule Ball scenes. She's supposed to get MAD at Ron, not have a cry over him (although I do reckon this happens when she's alone, but that could just be me).

  • The Triwizard tasks - one of the few things they really focussed on - were changed unnecessarily. Why did we need a five minute dragon chase when it could have been just as effective the way it was written. And the scary maze eating the contestants thing was just odd. I am willing to forgive the timing/waiting part of the second task when Harry is under the water with the captives, because they needed to move along with the plot and the rest of that task was done so well.

  • Speaking of which, I get overly frustrated when they leave out parts (which I totally understand is necessary) but then, they replace them with scenes that have no basis in the actual storyline. Although I have to admit, it wasn't as bad this time as that stupid bird, the ghosts and the willow in PoA. Plus, I actually really enjoyed some of them the second time around as character examples. Which leads me to the second viewing...

I saw it again last night, in the cinema, on the big screen and I loved it. Most of the things that had annoyed me the first time around didn't really matter (I still cringed at the Barty Crouch plot "interpretation" though) and I enjoyed the film more as a slightly twisted adventure with some much loved characters. Sure, many of the scenes and plot lines were skewed, if not completely invented anew, but I really have a place in my heart for most of these characters and it was wonderful to just get more of a glimpse of them.

I loved that Fred and George finally totally stepped up as the comical relief in the movies - a role they have played in the novels since the first trip to Hogwarts. The dancing lesson with McGonagall, while one of those added scenes that usually annoy me no end, was great. The expressions on their faces when told they had to dance, Ron's embarrassment at being singled out, Fred and George interacting with Harry as friends and laughing at Ron's expense, Neville being willing to dance when the rest of the boys pretended they weren't there - it was beautiful.

I thought Neville was fantastically introduced as a more major character to lead into the following movies. I always pictured Neville shorter and fatter but it didn't matter at all. I loved that he found confidence in dancing, not because it was true to the novel, but because he does grow in confidence and stature throughout the series and this was a wonderful way of showing it. I didn't miss the house elves at all really - Dobby always kind of annoyed me, especially in the second film, and I liked that Neville got to help Harry (is it obvious I like Neville?). I laughed so hard when he said "Oh NO! I've killed Harry Potter"

Rupert Grint is playing Ron almost exactly as I see him. The rolling over in bed when Hermione tries to wake him, the hurt 'anger' at Harry. Is it just me or is he the one who's developed the most as an actor? (Or perhaps I am just seeing it that way because he is playing his character the most in-line with my imagination)

Hagrid's romance with Madam Maxime was suitably sweet and strange, although I missed the Giant revelation. I enjoyed the scene of them walking through the forest, just Hagrid and the trio, talking about what a bunch of misfits they were, because I can really see that conversation taking place between the pages of the book.

I have just realised how hard it is to write an objective review of this film, since I am so emotionally involved… I did think the dragons were done really well, in fact the special effects in general were suitably magical and spectacular. The music wasn't up to the standard of John Williams, but at least they kept Hedwig's Theme in part. The film was scarier and darker than the previous films, which is the nature of the story. I appreciated the similar increase in emotion, that made the lighter scenes even better and contrasted nicely with the darker scenes, making them seem comparatively darker.

The tear factor:
(I cry at almost EVERY movie I see, happy tears and sad ones - I get too emotionally involved and have been known to bawl most the way through a film, so I figured I'll let you know when and if that happens)

The first time through, I started blurring up at exactly the point when Lily Potter spoke to Harry - I think it hit that he didn't have his parents or something, I don't know, but I just felt so bad for him at that point, and then he takes Cedric back and can't get over what happens... but then the plotline diverged again and I stopped. There was a tear or two during Dumbledore's final speech.

The second time I saw it… well, I feel like I cried on and off through the whole thing. The first time they see Cedric, when he helps Harry up after the Portkey, when Mr Diggory hugs his son outside the maze, when Harry tells Cedric to get back to the cup but you know its not going to happen, when Harry talks to the shadows during Priori Incantatem, when they get back and everyone works out what's going on, during Dumbledore's speech. OK, so maybe it was basically all Cedric related. I remember the first time I read HP4, it didn't hit me really, but when I read it the second time and had developed more interest in the character it hit me hard. Now, I reckon I started swelling up in anticipation, maybe that was the problem……

WOW - that was long, and I didn't even say everything I was thinking. I'm sure in the future my posts won't be so crazy long-winded, well at least not until the next HP instalment comes out...

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