Vulcan’s Peak

HP & the Goblet of Fire

November 28, 2005 8:00 am

or, Odette turns movie critic

isaw11 In some respects, this is very possibly my favorite of the Potter films: the story is generally well handeled, there are distinct traces of creativity on the part of the director, and even characters who seemed all wrong at first glance (namely Mad Eye Moody) turned out to be spot on.

The beginning had me a little worried that this one would be hacked together in a desperate attempt to fit 734 pages into under five hours (GoF clocks in just over two and a half). Until we get Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons under one roof and the tournament gets underway, the story is little more than a series of flashes, each suggesting that it contains the kernel of a plot point. Riddle House? Check. Our heroes? Check. Portkey, World Cup, Victor Krum, Dark Mark? Check, check, double check. My favorite instance of this actually occurs in the first scene in the Great Hall. We see Moody enter, then flash to one of the Weasley twins. “It’s Mad Eye Moody!” Flash to other twin. “He’s an auror.” Flash to someone else: “What’s an auror?” Flash again, explanation. You don’t get much more condensed than that. It amused me.

Once things really get moving, though, the movie stretches its legs and actually creates a plot out of its plot points. I suspect that an uninitiated movie-goer would be lost as hell amidst the plot holes, but GoF makes a much better attempt than PoA, which never bothered to explain that Lupin, Sirius, Wormtail, and Snape were all at school with Harry’s father. Oops? I really missed Hermione’s triumphant revenge against Rita Skeeter, which might create problems in the next movie, except that I suspect that sub-plot will again get dropped. Sad. The image of Hermione, Rita Skeeter, and Luna Lovegood sitting together is priceless.

One sub-plot from the book that I didn’t miss at all was the presence of house-elves and Hermione’s obsession with SPEW. Neville even got a bit of Dobby’s part, which I thought was nice — the supporting cast who are so influential in forming the background of the books are rarely acknowledged in the movies.

On the other hand, I am liking Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore less and less. I picture Dumbledore as the sort of person who can command the attention of the room with his mere presence, and Gambon is all too easy to overlook. He must constantly exert a great deal of energy to force some semblance of control, which immediately suggests that he is completely out of control. While Dumbledore is indeed out of control of the larger situation as soon as Harry’s name pops out of the Goblet, I think his serenity (or facade thereof) is an important part of Dumbledore’s character. Arm-flapping and shouting is not. And can I add that his costume looks more like a nightgown than a wizard’s robe? The robes they designed for Richard Harris in the first film looked a lot better.

A character who did look right (I thought) was Cedric Diggory. I quite liked him, making the end that much more powerful — the moment that got me was his father’s reaction upon Harry’s return. Actually, I really liked that scene in general. Downright creepy to have Harry return from the graveyard to the brass band and loud cheers, then watch as slowly each character realizes that something is very, very wrong.

And big cheers here: Someone else has said it first, but the Weasley twins really hit their stride in GoF. They get plenty of screen time and they make the most of it!

image source

10 Responses to “HP & the Goblet of Fire”

Pug wrote a comment on November 28, 2005

Your arguments against Gambon as Dumbledore are spot-on (or on spot, maybe?).

Crunch wrote a comment on November 28, 2005

I’m no good with actors’ real names. Excuse me.
What we need is mix between the first Dumbledore and the current one. The first one was too old. He didn’t have the youthful energy Dumbledore has. Now I understand the guy was near death, but he was still lacking that energy. But he did have the control and presence and power right.
The current Dumbledore has the energy, but he doesn’t have the strength the old one did.
Oops, off to lab.

tempest wrote a comment on November 28, 2005

I think it was the worst of all the movies on account of the disjointed plot. Now, I know, the book is massive and long as you said, but that still doesn’t make up for it being a sub-par movie. I found it very irritating to always have to figure where they were and what they were talking about as they constantly skipped about–if you hadn’t read the book, you’d definitely be lost. They should have made it a bit longer for those who haven’t read to put in more supporting details and such, so the audience would have a clue of what was going on now and then.

And that ending! “Everything’s going to change now”? Yeah, no kidding! Voldemort’s back, he’s some kind of pissed, already scored the first kill of his return, nearly aced Harry, reunited with a bunch of loyal Death Eaters, and that’s the most compelling thing they can end with?! Good golly! You could’ve fooled me, I thought it’d be business as usual! C’mon, what’s up with that? It reminds me of the pathetic ending to Revenge of the Sith in terms of lameness.

Crunch wrote a comment on November 28, 2005

Gotta disagree with you here. It’s a pale comparison to the book, but this was by far the best of the four movies.
The disjointedness and skipping were just as bad if not worse in the previous movies. Look at Prisoner of Azkaban.
Actually there’s one thing I think GoF the movie has done better than the novels. The introduction and importance of Neville and Ginny were too sudden in the novels in my opinion. The movie has done a better job of pushing them farther forward than the books.

Tae wrote a comment on November 28, 2005

I wouldn’t say that Neville and Ginny’s importance were too sudden. I caught onto both of their significance fairly quickly. I even, as Odette remembers, called it on the Harry/Ginny-ness. 😉
The fact that they kept getting mentioned in the books, throughout all the books, seemed like a clue. Now, you have to remember that the books are told through Harry’s perspective, so until they became ‘important’ to him, they would remain background characters. It didn’t mean they weren’t there, they just weren’t obvious to Harry. Just like I’m sure Cho was a member of Ravenclaw before Harry ‘discovered’ girls. 😛

Odette wrote a comment on November 28, 2005

😉 I do remember, Tae.

In other respects, however, I do agree with Crunch. For this movie to truly match the book, of course it would have to be longer than the extended edition of Return of the King. But PoA was the low point in terms of storytelling. GoF is a step in the right direction. And I liked seeing Ginny and Neville together.

I’ve been pondering the “Everything’s going to change now” ending and I’m tempted to argue that it’s a sensitive use of understatement. In times of shock, when you know your world will never be quite the same, is it really possible to comprehend the scope of change? I remember after 9/11, it took us all a while to let the facts sink in – and by facts I mean all the implications of changing our ideas about security, the world around us, etc. Can you picture one person turning to another on Sept. 13 and saying “Everything’s going to change now, isn’t it?” I can.

However, I was less sure about the very last lines, the bit about “Will you write to me?” Uhhh, this is fourth year, I think we’ve got this settled by now? I assume that was supposed to be a last bit of closure after Ron and Hermione’s tiffs. Not sure it worked well.

Oh – on the subject of perspective! Did you notice that we had a scene in the middle of GoF that was 100% sans Harry? – that bit where Dumbledore was gazing into the Pensieve while discussing the situation with the staff. In the books, once we pick up Harry’s POV at the beginning, I don’t think we ever lose him. It was an interesting choice, I thought. Given the precedent for sticking to Harry, it seemed almost liberating.

Crunch wrote a comment on November 29, 2005

It was just like the very first chapter in HalfBlood Prince. Is that the first sans-Harry scene in the novels?

Odette wrote a comment on November 29, 2005

Well, you could count
(1) Chapter 1 of Sorcerer’s Stone, though technically Harry is there, he’s just a baby, so it isn’t really his POV, or
(2) Chapter 1 of Goblet of Fire, where we follow the caretaker into the Riddle House and see Voldemort talking to Wormtail. Technically this is Harry’s dream, but it’s not really his POV.

But in both cases (and in the first two chapters of Half-Blood Prince), once we pick up Harry’s POV we never stray from it. (Unless someone else can come up with an example…?)

Crunch wrote a comment on November 30, 2005

Yeah, I didn’t want to count those two because in the next chapter you’re left with the possibility it’s still Harry’s POV. He could have been remembering or dreaming.

Odette wrote a comment on November 30, 2005

Fair enough.

Care to comment?