Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Review by Diana, Hermi2, MaceVindaloo, Rosie, PandaCat, Hermi3
Director: Mike Newell
Screenplay: Steven Kloves
Creator: J.K. Rowling
Rating: Super Star Destroyer
This film took the springboard created by Alfonso Cuaron's Prisoner of Azkaban and makes a tremendous leap .. and makes a near-perfect landing, with grace and style! There was much debate over the rating for this review ... those under 16 gave it "Death Star" and even "three levels above Death Star." Since this is not a democracy, the adults allowed our vote to hold. Why not a Death Star rating? The only (serious) detraction was the (necessary) expectation that viewers of this film would already know much about the characters in the film. For instance, in this film, there was a departure from the usual "Harry being miserable at the Dursleys" opening, so new viewers would not get the impression that Harry was anything but a wizard. Also, no explanation of muggles, what was Quidditch, etc. Don't get us wrong we feel that if you came into the theater to watch this film knowing nothing about the Harry Potter tale, you're some sort of freak, and not in a good sense!
Okay, that's out of the way ... but it was a hot, freaky, fun, moody, and exhilarating movie! Once again, the casting was perfect. New characters and there were many, due to the presence of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students on-campus this year were cast perfectly. As much as people fretted and feared for the last movie for the casting of the beloved Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, there was some wonder that Ralph Fiennes would be the dark lord incarnate, whether Brendan Gleeson would personify Mad-Eye Moody ... and of course, they did! Miranda Richardson was also a very annoying Rita Skeeter!
And what of the Tri-Wizard champions? The teen crowd is unanimous "Cedric Diggory is HOT!" they cried! The older ones among us thought he was handsome in the "smarter, nicer, Prince William mode." Indeed, he portrayed Diggory as the best Hogwart's had to offer. Stanislav Ivanevsky was cast as Durmstrang's Viktor Krum, and he is big and buff, and believe it or not, he actually was 18 when the filming was done. He looks much older, but that's appropriate for a national level athlete. Do you remember that the producers promised J.K. Rowling that they'd only cast UK citizens? They had to make exceptions here, though Ianevski had been discovered while attending school in Scotland; a loophole. He's not as most of us pictured in our heads when we first read Goblet of Fire; in a way, it didn't really matter because he and Clémence Poésy (who plays Fleur Delacoeur) were somewhat underutilized in the script. They were really just there to provide some teen tension Viktor's courtship of Hermione and Ron's obsession with Fleur as well as providing the competition for the Championship.
Much was cut from the book, but that should be expected the book is 700+ pages long and is filled with many things, and many strong ancillary stories. But the main tale is about Harry and his relationship to You-Know-Who; like Cuaron before him, Newell concentrated on Harry, to the point that only Harry's dragon face-off was shown in the first trial. We only saw Draco Malfoy (and any of the other students) because they came in contact with Harry. But there were compensations, too! Like the depiction of the wizemagot within the panseive (the barbed cage holding prisoners), or the Yule Ball with all the glamor none of us muggles will ever know in the non-wizard proms of our lives! Or the World Cup stadium. And we finally know the power and "real" appearance of the Deatheaters and the Dark Mark.
By the way, gone are the cherubic 11-year-olds who came to Hogwart's four years ago. Some of these "teens" are tall, gangly, tubby, creaky ... all the stuff teens are. It was reported that special effects house Industrial Lights and Magic (appropriate to use a thus-named company for Harry Potter film effects) created a program to zap zits and other regrettable facial blemishes, so that the students of the wizard world had clear skin. (If only that worked in real life, too!). There were some serious height differences as the kids walked together down corridors, and that added a great touch of realism in this fantasy tale.
The animal lover among us was thrilled to see Draco Malfoy turned into a ferret (a sort of weasel, get it?), and everyone enjoyed Moody's misbehaviors. It made the end of the tale all the more chilling, even though we all knew how it would end. (Sheesh, writing on low-spoiler alert is tough! C'mon, you all know the story, right?)
It's interesting to note that Gleeson is the only actor cast as a Hogwart's professor who had actually been a teacher. It shows in his Dark Arts lecture; the lesson was much deeper and showed that he understood the process of teaching and learning for young people. And that bright blue Mad Eye was a hoot! ILM deliberately created it as its own character, and the way it jolted around and peered at everything was hilarious and spooky at the same time.
There was apparently no blue sky in year four at Hogwart's. It was all rain and mist and fog, and while the color palate in POA was sharp and autumnal, this was deliberately dark and wintery and gray. The costuming, make-up, and hair reflected this too, and everyone was grimy and unkempt. Except for the Yule Ball, which was as fairy-prom-like as one could hope for! One wonders at the prowess of the director and handlers of the film that they could get so many teens to take ballroom dancing lessons and be filmed dancing in unison wearing all manner of finery.
Because of the denseness of the story, the film was economical in terms of time and telling. There was very little exposition and it must have been excruciatingly tempting to put some funny moments in that were not really needed. Like Viktor not being able to say Hermione's name, or Ron referring to the Bulgarian auperstar champion as "Vicky." But more serious is that some points in the story were profoundly rearranged to cut down on time. Now, since J.K. Rowling is fond of laying in red herrings in her tales, and she has a right of veto in the script, these rearrangements give readers of her tale important clues about what is and what isn't important in the world of her books. That should help the readers a bit as they mull over the contents of the final book in the seven book series.
In fact, the changes become more curious when you realize that things you remember from the book were totally ignored in the film. Like Moody's battle cry, "Constant vigilence!" was not uttered even once ... And what about Winky ...? And SPEW ...?
Another change which is in no way important to the story, but is significant: the music. It was apparent from the opening strains that something was different ... then at the end credits, we discovered that John Williams did not compose the music this time! His original themes were used, sure, but it was Patrick Doyle's name on the credits. It was a good job, edgier, less emotive or martial than Williams's style ... but we do miss the master. Might have to get the soundtrack so we can learn to love the new style ...
For the first time, Lord Voldemort is shown as more than a threat. The whole plot leads to his need to create a body of his own. Ralph Fiennes depicts the dark lord in a chilling and creepy manner, full of portents of doom and hate. It was only by a rare phenomenon called priori incantantem that things didn't turn out worse ... and you ended up believing You-Know-Who is indeed back, and he means to finish what he'd started 13 years before. Fiennes brought that to life in a naked, raw way, and that scene made more than a few people cry in panic.
By the way, did you notice that Cedric Diggory strongly resembles someone? Initially, the Star Wars nuts among us thought he looked sort of like a pre-burn Anakin Skywalker, but as we talked it over, we realized ... he looks like Tom Riddle! Is that significant? Is that a piece of information that Rowling couldn't convey in her writing without giving something away ...? Probably not, but isn't this fun?
Newell was the perfect choice for director. It was said that Columbus wanted to direct this film, but Universal rejected him in favor of Newell. It was a good choice; this movie ROCKS, say the teen gallery here, and the adult concur! It's a wonderful movie, and we can hardly wait for the next one (even though some of us didn't like Order of the Phoenix, but that doesn't stop us from loving the Harry Potter universe or the movies made from the tales), and for the final book, too!
Hey, do you think they're conspiring to hold back the final book till the movies catch up ...?
Finally, in the trailer, Hermione says, "Everything is going to change now, isn't it?" In a sense, she was talking to us, the audience. It turns out that Steven Kloves will be replaced as the screenwriter for the next film. There will likely be another director. And it appears that there is little confidence that the existing cast will come back in whole for future films. Producer David Heyman points out that the tale is bigger than the actors, so that isn't an issue ... Whatever happens, we know we'll go see the next three films, as long as they make them!
Photos from imdb.com and from harrypotter.com
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