Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"

Last night we joined the Burrahobbits to view "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" at the AMC Multicinema at Mayfair Mall. Despite the shopping season being in effect, it is still not difficult to approach the Mall from the back side and find a parking spot reasonably close to the doors, at least on a weekday night. The theatre was not at all crowded, and we Fantasy enthusiasts made up a good portion of the weeknight audience, nice since we could all sit together and poke and whisper to one another.

Other reviewers have noted the extent to which the hefty novel has been pared down to mostly the action sequences, so I won't go into that much here, except to say that what results is MOSTLY the "good parts version," with a few exceptions. I did not miss the "House Elf Liberation Front" in the least, but I did miss such character-adding bits as Fleur Delacroix being part veela, Madame Maxime being (possibly) part giant, and Rita Skeeter being a very annoying animagus--all of which would have required some additional explanation and exposition, but I think might be missed as future movies are made of the newer books. (For example, introducing the topic of prejudice against giants. On the other hand, for a future film adaptation, I think it likely Hagrid's family might go the way of the house elves, and I would not miss them much, either.)

The major emphasis, of course, is on the Triwizard tournament and Voldemort's machinations, with some endearing looks at the three principals' nascent love lives. We do see Dumbledore becoming a more active character, reinforcing my orginal opinion that the late Richard Harris' Dumbledore was a bit too dotty for the long term. Gambon does well, but could work a bit on catching some of the character's warmth, which admittedly this script does not give much scope for. Maggie Smith as McGonigle and Alan Rickman as Snape have short but memorable cameos. (Snape adjusting his cuffs before delivering swats to Ron and harry for talking in study hall was a character touch that drew appreciative chuckles from our crowd--.) I'm afraid the Triwizard Champions, Diggory, Delacroix, and Krum, get short shrift in the way of character development: Diggory is stalwart and brave, Krum bullet-headed and sinister, and Delacroix--well, when you have a character whose main attribute, even in the novel, is that she is beautiful enough to cloud men's minds, and Clemence Poesy is well-enough looking but just isn't that gorgeous, there isn't much left. Of course the plum role is that of "Mad-Eye" Moody, and Brendan Gleeson chews the scenery with gusto, rendering a performance that makes on think of Tim the Enchanter from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" by way of "Mad Max".

Hogwarts and environs are a bit less stylized than in last picture, a bit darker and more dusty, but still with interesting touches--for example, Moody's room is full of lenses and glasses. The stadium for the Quiddich World Cup is breathtakingly designed and wonderfully sensible for a game played in three dimensions. The Beaubatons flying coach and the Durmstrang ship are well realized. The dragons and merpeople were very well done and quite believable. (I date myself by chuckling over Harry's "Man From Atlantis" swimming style when transformed by the gillyweed).

The climactic scene with Voldemort was dark and wonderfully terrible. Ralph Feinnes returns as Voldemort on a very effective makeup. The murder is swift, brutal and offhand as in the book, and the grief of the bereaved when the body returns home is heart-wrenching, leaving no doubt that the story has entered a tougher phase.

Scary snake, scary Wormtongue, scary dragon, scary merfolk, VERY scary Voldemort. Too intense for young children. On the other hand, very minimal blood, and the only bad language occurs during Ron and Harry's falling-out, in which Ron tells Harry to "piss off," and Harry later responds by calling Ron a "foul git." If you like Harry Potter, highly reccommended. If you haven't seen any of the prior films, you would need a scorecard to tell the characters.

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