Movie Review: Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire

(If you haven't seen the movie, back away slowly; if you haven't read the book, run!)

Oh, I could kiss all the fine folks involved in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I really could, and here's why:

They got the graveyard scene just right.

Perfect. Exactly (exactly) how I pictured the whole thing--and Voldemort, well. I was hyperventilating by the time they finally showed his face, I was that excited, and he was perfect. Exactly how I'd imagined him.


Whatever else they cut (lots, and lots) they did not cut the ferret scene. Hallelujah.

I truly admire the brave souls who undertook this most monstrous of tasks, because the question is not only How do you make a movie of a book the size of a small child? but also How do you squeeze in all those bloody subplots without making an eight hour movie, and What can you take out without damaging the story beyond repair?

Whew. I couldn't do it.

Even though Goblet whipped by, in all its two-and-a-half hour glory (not only because I was so engrossed in the film, but because the whole thing is contrived of quick, quick, little scenes--so many things squeezed in!), and even though it relied rather heavily on the assumption that the viewer has, of course, read the book, I was astonished at how much they did fit in. Really, I can't complain.


Because what is a review, if it just gushes on and on about how friggin' cool the movie is?

So here is my complaint:

Barty Crouch. Both of them. In attempting to shorten that particular subplot, I feel a whole lot was lost--for example, reading the book I was tremendously conflicted about Barty Crouch, Sr. What kind of man sends his son, screaming and protesting his innocence, to prison, really? And then helps his son escape, only to keep him imprisoned by a house elf for ten years or so?

I couldn't decide, but I sure didn't like the guy.

In the movie, sure, Mr. Crouch is pretty intense toward the beginning, but mostly he's no more worth considering than Fudge--not terribly likeable, a little shifty-eyed, but overall, I wasn't able to form much of an opinion about him at all.

Now, really, I can handle the absence of Winky the Elf; I can handle not getting even a glimpse of the LeStranges (Bellatrix, in particular, I'd been hoping to see), and I suppose I can bear the loss of the Percy Weasley subplot--but I'm not sure I can cope with such a complete alteration of Barty Crouch's character that he comes out looking like a victim. What was that about him admitting to Harry that he'd lost his family? I'm pretty sure everybody else was muttering about the scandal behind his back, in the book, but there he was, all soggy-eyed, confessing to Harry that losing one's family changes one forever.

And then he just dies.

And his death is only mentioned once, right after it happens, and nobody seems terribly concerned about how he died, or why, or, particularly, who killed him.

I suppose that little gaps in logic like that (or perhaps gaps in my attention span--there might've been more to it that I missed, I admit, and I apologize in advance if I'm wrong) are permissable in a huge, brilliant movie like this, and, though I caught a couple others, only one more is worth mentioning:

Barty Jr. went to Azkaban. As far as we (the viewers) know, there's no mention in the movie of him escaping/faking his death/and so on; also, as far as we know, Sirius Black is the only one to have escaped Azkaban, ever. But when Barty Jr. is apprehended, Dumbledore turns to a teacher and says, "Call Azkaban, I think they'll find they're missing a prisoner."


Does he mean that the dementors hadn't noticed Barty's absence, or that he'd escaped, but there'd been absolutely no brouhaha about it at all?

If I missed something, please, correct me.

In summary, though, The Goblet of Fire rocked--the maze, even without the blast-ended skrewts and the Sphinx, was way cooler than I could have imagined, and Fred and George were in the film a bunch (a sure way to make me happy), and the kids' acting has improved so much, and the dragons, and the mermaids, and oh! Mad-Eye Moody...

They did my favorite book in the series (so far) such spectacular justice, I was up all night rehashing it, and I'm afraid I drove my husband quite crazy--but ah, well. He ought to know what he's in for: Narnia's up next. They make two of my favorite books into movies and then release them within weeks of each other. I can't stand it; I might explode.


bugorama said...

hmmm ... i don't know about in the movie, since i haven't seen it, but in the book there's no fuss about barty jr. escaping because his mother takes his place in his cell (since she's dying anyway), and the guards can only sense souls, not distinguish between them. right? it's been awhile since i read the book ...

maybe i'm weak, but i can't watch movies made from my favorite books anymore. the images from the movie begin to replace the precious stuff in my head, and i just can't deal with that. so, no goblet of fire for me. sadly. it's too bad people can't just write some good original fantasy movie plots. (seriously)


Thea said...

Yes, you're right about Barty Jr.--in the book. In the movie, though, they don't even mention Barty's mum, let alone that she took his place in Azkaban. That whole bit is cut completely, as is Barty's imprisonment within the Crouch house--unless I really did miss something, they don't mention, at all, how Barty got free, how he hooked up with Moody, how or why he killed his dad...And that's my problem. That they don't address any of that. Pah.

And I agree, as well, about fantasy movies--everything you said, especially the part about them replacing the pictures I had in my head--but I think sometimes that seeing the movie helps, because I can't picture everything clearly, and the things I really did see clearly, clear enough to feel concerned about somebody else's images replacing them, usually withstand the film.

What I can't handle is seeing the movie first, because then I don't even have a chance to imagine it all on my own.

But if I've read the book, I can't resist. If the movie's out there (especially if it's of a fantasy book), I have to see it--I think seeing a really good interpretation of a fantasy book is better than seeing really good fantasy movie, because the sheer joy of seeing somebody get it right (like the graveyard scene--I wasn't wriggling around in my seat just because Voldemort is so scary, but because there he is! Just like I pictured him, and talking in that voice, and looking at the camera with those eyes...) is enough to make me pass out from over-excitement. Something about bringing the characters to life, hearing that actor do Snape's voice so much better, even, than I'd heard it while reading, gives me chills.

Hence my enthusiasm for the Narnia movies. Every trailer I've seen seems to promise that they've got it right--Aslan looks and sounds like I'd imagined, the animals, too, and the kids and the battles and the White Witch (especially the White Witch!)...Oh! I can't stand it, I really can't.

I'm a sucker for these sorts of things.

What a comment, Wow. If you read the whole thing, hooray. You're awesome.

Rogue said...

Hear hear on your review. Although...I think I was more than a little disappointed about no blast-ended skrewts. And I missed Quidditch. *sniffs mournfully* And I missed the Sphinx. And I missed Mrs. Weasley (painfully absent at the World Cup). And what happened to that ex-pro Quidditch player guy!?!?!? I guess that scene with Snape smacking Ronald and Harry around, and the ferret scene must suffice to make up for it. :)

Thea said...

The absence of Quidditch at the World Cup was a bit heartbreaking, actually...

I was definately bummed about a lot of the omissions (SPEW, the Sphinx, Percy Weasley, and so on), but I did love Snape beating up on Ron and Harry. Also, MacGonagal's dance lesson was hysterical.

Thea said...

And Charlie Weasley. Really really wanted to see him.