Obligatory GOF Review

I bet you haven’t guessed that we went to see the new Harry Potter movie over the weekend. Unlike my brother, see we didn’t see it twice, but then I remember my single days when I went to see Pearl Harbor three times in the opening week. So I can relate to him.

Anyway, I thought I’d post my Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire response here at Technically Speaking. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It was a really good movie, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

(Oh, and by the way, I wanted to say thanks to Dave and Courtney for saving our place in line; we watched the movie at a Provo theater which was over an hour away from our house, when you consider traffic. I mean, we passed five (maybe six?) theaters that were playing the movie in order to watch it in Provo. So, um, sorry we were late… 🙂 )

I won’t go ahead and rehash the plot; if you don’t know it already, you can find it on plenty of websites. Instead, I’ll just give my reactions to the movie.

First, I think that the latest Harry Potter installment was well-written. Props go to Steven Kloves, who adapted J.K. Rowling’s massive novel into a 2.5-hour movie. Kloves did a great job trimming the book and adapting it into a movie. Some loyal Potterites have expressed disappointment that there were a number of specific details that were different in the movie and in the book, but that is to be expected, in my opinion. The film medium is distinctly different from the novel medium, and they have different conventions and practices that distinguish them. The things that make for a great novel aren’t all of the same things that make for a great movie. Thus, when a novel is adapted to film, changes are usually necessary. Characters have to be combined or eliminated. Plots have to be simplified. Kloves did a great job finding the central plot and theme of the novel, and then he adapted it in a way that did the novel justice while modifying it in a way that fits the conventions of a motion picture.

I really liked the pace of the movie. It was funny in all the right places, and I thought it was well-acted. Since the complexity of the story has increased, the number of characters has increased. This means that some of our best-loved characters of former films had less screen time in Goblet of Fire, but I think it worked.

The special effects were fantastic and for the most part, unobtrusive, which is nice for a Harry Potter film. Finally, it seems, we have become accustomed to the magical world, such that the magical elements of the film don’t have to be shoved into our faces. That allowed GOF to focus more on action and characters than magic.

However, the film does have a few weaknesses. I think that one of the true gems of J.K. Rowling’s writing is the way she seems to understand and portray her characters. There is significant character development in the novel that is missing from the movie. The movie does have character development, but it seems to come in bursts, between action scenes, and doesn’t have the depth that I think Rowling gives the characters in the novel. (But that may be expected for an action film, and I think the movie does an okay job with character development. My point here is just that it isn’t as good as the book’s character development.)

Another weakness: Voldemort seemed like a wuss. Snape is a truly fearsome character. But Voldemort just wasn’t scary enough. I don’t know how I would have fixed that, but the Voldemort in my mind in the graveyard was much scarier that the Voldemort on screen in the graveyard.

And speaking of the end of the movie: what was up with the last task? Was it just supposed to be a scary maze? (Ohhh!! Scary tree!) Since I’ve read the book, I understand that it was the fake-Moody who made the maze’s path easier for Harry. But I thought that the maze in the movie was seriously lacking in danger. You ought to see the haunted corn mazes in my state. Those are scary. There was tension in the maze, but we never really saw why the maze was supposed to be scary (except for the time that the trees tried to fall on Harry, or the Devil’s Snare tried to eat Cedric / Fleur; but still, we’re just taking about scary flora here. I expected some scary fauna too).

After the movie was over, Christina and I wondered if the movie contained enough background so that non-book readers would be able to follow the plot without becoming too confused. My guess was that it did contain enough information, and I credit that chiefly to the good writing. Yeah, there was some extraneous information that would have been lost on a person who hadn’t read the book, but all of the central plot information was mostly well explained or shown. I got confirmation of that as I read a blog posting today on _Atlas Blogged_ (read post here) where Boon writes that despite never having read the books, the movie wasn’t hard to follow.

In the end, _Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire_ was a great movie, and we’ll be among the first to buy it when it comes out on DVD. It is a movie that deserved its PG-13 rating, so I don’t recommend it for young children, but teenagers and adults alike should really enjoy this fourth installment in the Harry Potter saga.

And I’m sticking to my promise not to direct a Harry Potter movie. That is, unless somebody wants me to! LOL. 🙂

One response to “Obligatory GOF Review”

  1. I agree with most of what you said. I disagree on two points though: Voldemort and the maze.

    Voldemort was much different than the books, but I liked the differences. The books always left me with a stately and everlastingly dangerous Voldemort. The movie, though, had a flighty Voldemort that seemed to approach a level of insanity and charisma that the books never showed me. I really liked it. I liked how he bounced all over the place. I liked how you could see the genuine pleasure at having a body again.

    As for the maze, I thought that they had purposefully removed the fauna portion of the maze. I was waiting for it, but I was still okay with it. The maze became instead a psychological battle with your own fears more than it was a battle with the elements of the maze. This falls in line with Dumbledore’s instructions (not in the book) for the champions. While different, it still worked.

    Like you said, Paul. Two different mediums, two different interpretations. For me they both worked.

    My biggest complaint would be the increase of sexual connotations and thoughts. I was displeased with Hagrid’s hand placement on Madame Maxine’s hind-end. I don’t think Hagrid would ever have really done that. I also really was disappointed with Moaning Myrtle. That’s just a little bit two, um, horny for me.

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