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Goblet of Fire, movie review - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Goblet of Fire, movie review
I do enjoy being off when movies open. That meant I could get home at 4am and still get a solid eight hours of sleep. I feel rather yummy, actually.

But you don't care about that! Let's talk the GoF movie.

First, in the previews, I don't think I've ever seen a trailer get a bigger and better response than Hoodwinked. That's definitely on my to-see list.

I think GoF is a very good effort, and for the first time, the comic pacing is absolutely dead on for a Rowling book. Performances are good. What's skipped this time is less substantive to the plot than what was skipped in PoA, but still irritating, though not the most irritating thing (which will be under the cut). Ron's dress robes are sufficiently horrid.


What's good
This is the best we've seen Dan Radcliffe, and I'm not normally a Dan detractor. He really nails it. Rupert Grint also gets the kind of pouty, resentful Ron that we saw in GoF (added line, "Right, that's me, I'm Harry Potter's stupid friend..."). Some of the added dialogue is okay--Ron going through a whole thing where he's the one to warn Harry about the dragons (which I didn't like) and then trying to explain how Harry should have gotten it, and Harry just shaking his head after they make up and going, "Who could have gotten that?" is great.

The entrance of Durmstrang into the Great Hall is a terrific show, especially nice after an embarrassing entrance from Beauxbatons.

Cedric gets a line before he's killed. Not one that's responded to, but one that's a chance to show himself as a champion.

Voldemort. Was. Scary. Yes, I know there are Voldemort detractors out there, but I think even they will find him scary in the graveyard scene. Good performance combined with good makeup. Nice of the magic to provide him with a good black robe, though it did deprive Peter of something to do.

As I mentioned, the humor pacing was excellent.

There's some future set-up added. Barty-Jr-as-Moody mentions the Department of Mysteries, and, more interestingly, Karkaroff's testimony about Snape has him argue with Dumbledore's assertion that Snape is a spy, saying, "No, it's a lie, he's still loyal...!" Which doesn't mean that he is, but definitely is an HBP set-up.

Added line: When Harry enters the tent at the QWC and sees that it's a whole house in there, he just smiles and says, "I love magic." It just worked very well.

Neville, who has a larger part here than he actually had in the book, is given some nice moments, and Matthew Lewis does an excellent job with them. Alas... (see next part)

The scene where Harry gets back to Hogwarts with Cedric's body is nailed. The fact that there had been humor and lightness earlier works into it, because of the absolute horror of what happened, and D.R. is spectacular here.

The not-so-good
Someone had an effects budget slashed for this one. A few effects were all right, but most were cheesy and distracting, including Moody's eye. (I was sad to note that the pictures were not of some stand-in prop that would be CGI'd over later; the pictures we've seen were what they used as the "Mad-Eye" concept.) We didn't get Harry and Voldemort being raised up and put in the phoenix song cage. There were no animals or traps in the maze, just collapsing shrubbery and Viktor in bad contacts.

Which, btw, really rang a false note--we get verbatim earlier in the movie that no one knows who's lying and who's not under Imperio, but apparently from that scene, people under the curse are all wearing milky blue contacts that a fourth year student can glance at and note, "He's bewitched." Of course, since much of what was going on with Viktor was skipped, I guess they figured they had to telegraph that he wasn't actually evil.

While the humor pacing was dead on, the emotional pacing was just a step off. I can't explain exactly what each problem was, but because time forced a lot of skips, you lose the character work that makes the emotional moments work. Harry doesn't have much of a chance to miss Ron or lean entirely on Hermione before the fight ends, and suddenly Ron is his hostage in the lake. We don't see any real work-up on Harry's fear of facing the dragon; he just says he's scared. There's no mention of his problem with "Accio" (in fact, other than DADA, there are no classes in this movie), so there's no prior tension built up when it comes time to use it in the competition. And there's something off about the emotional work up to the Yule Brawl for Ron and Hermione. And just something wrong with it ending up having her crying on the stairs and telling him that he's "spoiled everything" instead of just storming off after "...and not as a last resort!" That was just an OOC moment. Hermione's not sad there. She's pissed as hell and she's not going to take it anymore. (I don't know why I bother being surprised at Hermione changes, though. Movie!Hermione and book!Hermione parted company back in CoS.) To my greatest annoyance, they rushed the graveyard scene. I mean, severely rushed it.

Then after Neville is very nicely built up, the part where we learn about his parents is breezed through, and we never have a moment of Harry really understanding it or Dumbledore suggesting that he not mention it. Readers will know the significance of it, but that's no excuse for the scriptwriter, especially since Neville is carefully developed prior to this.

The skipped and changed
You all knew I'd be keeping tabs, right?

Dialogue: Too numerous to mention most specifically. There was only a passing resemblance, which is too bad, because I like JKR's dialogue. Sadly, the worst instance of changed dialogue is Dumbledore's end-of-year speech, when the entire text of the Cedric speech is more or less changed, and while he does give the "what is right vs. what is easy" part to Harry alone later, he doesn't give it to the whole school. Nor does he exort them to choose what is right by "remember[ing] Cedric Diggory." The speech is a total throwaway, and the one line that always reduces me to a puddle of goo in GoF is just gone.

SPEW: As threatened, SPEW is removed. I guess as plot points go, it's not a vast problem, but of course it's good character stuff for Hermione, and a flash point for arguments with Ron, which would lead to tenser emotional moments throughout. And worse than that, it removed house elves... completely.

Yes, there is no Dobby in GoF, nor is there a Winky. Which leaves Kreacher to come in out of the blue in OotP, since we haven't been re-introduced to the issue. Neville gets the role of provider of gillyweed. Winky needs no mention because of my biggest peeve, which I'll get to in a second.

What was with Beauxbatons as a girls' school and Durmstrang as a boys' school? That's just weird. And not a single mention that Durmstrang teaches the Dark Arts, thereby putting suspicion on Krum. Of course, Krum's whole character arc is more or less trashed, so hey.

They changed the venue of Harry seeing Snape and Karkaroff, and Harry saw the Dark Mark on Karkaroff's arm... at which point, Snape... didn't chastise him for wandering around and eavesdropping, even though, unlike the classroom setting in the book, he could have legitimately done so.

Neville's book is changed from one about plants of the Mediterranean to one about plants of the highland lochs... which is all well and good and I assumed had been changed to avoid having to use Dobby stealing from Snape's storeroom... except guess what? The gillyweed is still stolen from Snape's storeroom! Neville is supposed to have stolen it now? Not buying.

Barty, Jr.'s arrest is worked in with Karkaroff's testimony, so now we've never seen Bellatrix or associated her with Neville's parents. Nor are the Lestranges mentioned in the graveyard. Color me mildly disquieted here.

And now, my biggest peeve: Apparently, the scriptwriter decided that the audience was made up of idiots. Instead of slowly working up to the Barty Crouch, Jr., storyline, Barty is in the first scene. At the Riddle House. With Peter. He goes as himself to the ruins after the QWC, and apparently doesn't use Harry's wand to summon the Dark Mark. Harry tells people he's dreamed of a man he doesn't know along with Voldemort and Wormtail. If the rest of the movie hadn't really made me mostly happy, I'd have been stuck with a horrible taste in my mouth from my jaw dropping to the theater floor in scene one. There's no need for Winky because, you see, there was never a plot to get Barty out of jail, and older Barty has no conflict about it. (In fact, he's presented as a mostly decent guy who was "broken" by his son's participation in Dark Arts. No mention is made of the minor matter of him tossing people--including Sirius--into Azkaban without trials.) As far as anyone knows, Barty Jr. is still in Azkaban. See, at the end, Dumbledore tosses off a line about telling people at Azkaban that they have a prisoner missing. Is this the same Azkaban that sent out Dementors after Sirius and scoured the whole country for a year? And they didn't happen to notice a second escape? No mention made of Barty getting a little kiss, either, and my disquiet over the fate of Bellatrix becomes less mild.

On a less serious note, instead of conjuring ropes to bind Harry tightly to t he gravestone, a stone scythe is employed to sort of wrap around above Harry's shoulders, and I was distracted the whole time by the fact that Harry could clearly have just bent his knees and slipped out at any point.

Sigh.

Overall, it was a strong effort, dispite the things that just made me want to scream. It's a fun movie with some very strong moments in it, and everyone does a good job with what they have. Some of the added stuff is nice, and unlike PoA, most of the deleted stuff wasn't of the core-of-the-story nature that got skipped in the Shrieking Shack. I missed Dobby and Winky, but could live without them, and am very glad that if someone was going to get more screen time out of it, it was Neville. I'm always up for more Neville.

They need to pay more attention to the realistic emotional fallout of the things they skip, if it's going to come into play later, and take steps to repair the damage. (My preference would be that they just not skip it rather than making changes to other parts to cover for it, but they have to do one or the other.) They also need to pay more attention to logic (like the gillyweed issue or Barty as a random Azkaban escapee). But on the whole, not bad.

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greyathena From: greyathena Date: November 18th, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree I would have liked to see that "torture of the Longbottoms" thing sink in, especially the mention of the cruciatus, but I did love that Crouch!Moody had Neville up at the desk while we tortured the spider and we saw that horrible look on Neville's face while he watched. One moment, not so hard-hitting in the book, where we really see in retrospect that Crouch Jr. was evil and was essentially torturing Neville there. Movie Crouch Jr. seems much more likely to have been an active participant in torturing the Longbottoms than nervous-looking little Book Crouch Jr.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 18th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that was a really well-done scene that I forgot to mention. Fake!Moody actually enjoying Neville's pain. Very good.
sreya From: sreya Date: November 18th, 2005 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dialogue changes are always what drive me INSANE in these movies. I can understand moving the Dumbledore speech lines to a private conversation if, for time, the speech to the entire school is cut. But WHY make up an entirely new speech?! There's no point. Same for so many other lines that seem to be changed at random. If it's not a time issue, you don't need to change it. Period. You're writing a script for people who can quote the books - trust me, they'll notice when you muck around with the dialogue. *headdesk*

Oh, well, I'll see it on Tuesday anyway. Hadn't been planning to, but somehow it made it onto the date movie list.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: November 18th, 2005 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
My quarrel with the first three movies (and, if what you say is true, probably the fourth too) is that they just Make. No. Sense. to someone who hasn't read the books. If you can ignore that, they're great--as long as you have the books to supply you with the giant chunks of logic that are missing.
agnes_bean From: agnes_bean Date: November 18th, 2005 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ron going through a whole thing where he's the one to warn Harry about the dragons (which I didn't like) and then trying to explain how Harry should have gotten it, and Harry just shaking his head after they make up and going, "Who could have gotten that?" is great.
Agreed. That was good.

The speech is a total throwaway, and the one line that always reduces me to a puddle of goo in GoF is just gone.
Total word. There was no reason not to use the speech more or less as it was in the books, and that last line always kills me. I was completely expecting to cry, and then the speech was different and I was just kind of “meh.”

The gillyweed is still stolen from Snape's storeroom! Neville is supposed to have stolen it now? Not buying.
You know, I hadn’t really thought about this but…you’re so right. Unless Maybe ”Moody” stole it for him…No, wait. I’m not making up excuses for the movie writers.


They need to pay more attention to the realistic emotional fallout of the things they skip, if it's going to come into play later, and take steps to repair the damage...also need to pay more attention to logic...But on the whole, not bad.
That was basically my feeling as well. Parts of it were great, parts really weren't, and over all it was fun.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 18th, 2005 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
The gillyweed is still stolen from Snape's storeroom! Neville is supposed to have stolen it now? Not buying.

I saw the movie at 9:00 a.m. this morning. So awesome! I agree with all of Fern's statements, except this one. Snape was accusing Harry & Co. of stealing Polyjuice Potion ingredients, NOT Gillyweed. I think the movie just asks us to assume Neville had some or found some. Snape is pinning Crouch!MadEye's thievery on Harry.

-Becky (long-time lurker, first-time poster)
http://beckysbits.blogspot.com/
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
silverhill From: silverhill Date: November 18th, 2005 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was distracted the whole time by the fact that Harry could clearly have just bent his knees and slipped out at any point.

Heehee! I'm so glad you said that because I felt the same way. I was sitting there thinking, "Hey, Harry, just duck under the scythe handle. You've got plenty of room to slip free."

Neville is supposed to have stolen it now? Not buying.

For me, this falls in the category of things I'll just ignore. Gillyweed was stolen, but I can pretend it wasn't Neville or not think too hard about who did steal it. Stealing from Snape's store? So phenomenally OOC for Neville.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 18th, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, the other gillyweed problem was the effort made to establish that it came from highland lochs. Why would anyone be stealing it from Snape's stores, since it's been re-classified as a local plant?!
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: November 18th, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Amen, sister. My biggest peeves with the movie were that they assumed that everyone would know what was going on since they had read the books, and the lack of word-for-word adaptation. WTF, Steve Kloves.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 18th, 2005 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I believe when Barty appeared in scene 1, I actually said, "...the FUCK?" out loud. I severely doubt I was the only one.

I mean, I can kind of understand it, because it's a convoluted back story that gets told later, but, um... it's a back story that fourth grade readers understand once it's told.
darreldoomvomit From: darreldoomvomit Date: November 18th, 2005 10:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
"The scene where Harry gets back to Hogwarts with Cedric's body is nailed. The fact that there had been humor and lightness earlier works into it, because of the absolute horror of what happened, and D.R. is spectacular here."

Imagine this: it is the middle of this scene, there are a few dry eyes in the house, but not many, and the film melts, or catches on fire. But I completly agree.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: November 18th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
The scene where Harry gets back to Hogwarts with Cedric's body is nailed. The fact that there had been humor and lightness earlier works into it, because of the absolute horror of what happened, and D.R. is spectacular here.

You're so right. After the horrors of the graveyard scene, the torture, coming back to *cheers*, and no one realizing at first why Cedric is so still and why Harry won't (can't?) get up.... One of my friends was criticising D.R.'s performance there, and I told him, "You're nuts. That was perfect. Harry's shattered, and that's what we got."

And going off your comments about how carefully Neville is set up and then we don't get a good solid payoff, that's true on a smaller level of the Foe-Glass. When Moody showed to Harry, I thought that meant that it would be used in the final scene between them, as it is in the book. Nope. (Darn.)
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: November 18th, 2005 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got back from the movie a little while ago and I thought it was great. While there was stuff cut out or changed, most of the essential stuff was kept in. Unlike POA, where they cut out vital information.

I have to totally disagree with you about the effects budget being slashed. The FX and sense of scope on this film was incredible. The Quidditch World Cup was amazing and the three tasks were equally impressive. Scenes are just bigger and more epic. The FX on Sirius' face in the fire was fantastic.

The performances were good all around. Absolutely agree with you about the scene when Harry returns. That scene was totally nailed by Radcliffe and very sad. It captured the essence of the scene.

I'm very happy that Ron isn't written like a complete idiot in this one. He's a jerk in parts of this movie but that's what he's supposed to be at times in the Goblet of Fire. While he doesn't explain to Harry about the giants (that part was cut out) he does know who Moody is and he does name of of the Unforgiveable Curses. In the past, those lines would have been all given to Hermione.

Even though the part with Neville's parents was glossed over (I wonder if it was a deleted scene), they did some nice stuff with him in this one. I think the change with him helping Harry with the second task was a good one. Also glad to see a lot of Fred and George in this one. They even have the scene where Fred asks Angelina to the Ball. I always liked that part.

There was one other thing that was changed. The Rita Skeeter subplot was greatly reduced and her war with Hermione eliminated. She just seems to be a pest in this one. A creepy pest with the way she's leering over Harry in the movie. Hermione's subplot actually get cut quite a bit. It's too bad they didn't have SPEW in there but I could understand that. Though I suspect they didn't want to write that plot because it brings out Hermione's bad personality traits. Also, Sirius is barely in the film.

I agree they didn't have to alter Dumbledore's speech. I thought Gambon did a good job with the character but he doesn't have the eccentric humor that he does in the book. But he'll soon start to play a more important role as the movies go on.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 18th, 2005 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm going to be seeing it in a couple of hours. Thanks for giving me an idea of what to expect.

- Whitney
vytresna From: vytresna Date: November 19th, 2005 12:05 am (UTC) (Link)
So they didn't leave out Parting of the Ways after all? Phew.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2005 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
They kind of did. The notion of the split from the Ministry is spread out around the movie, and there is no "Lay low at Lupin's" scene--Sirius's only scene is in the fire. I was just starting to feel like I was seriously kvetching about everything. But Harry was never in the infirmary, and Snape, oddly, was not sent back to Voldemort. I didn't even think about that before, but that's a pretty big honking plot hole!
tannim_ From: tannim_ Date: November 19th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
They also had BOTH of the Patil twins as Gryffindors.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2005 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I thought about mentioning that, though I can at least see the reasoning there--they didn't want to put in an explanation of who Ron's date was, so they had the sisters together when Harry asked.
From: fizzko Date: November 19th, 2005 03:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm seeing it tomorrow, and I'm glad to hear what I can expect. I'll try to isolate the book from the movie in my mind. ;) Just wondering, did they leave in "Kill the spare"? (Voldemort says it just before Cedric is killed.) Because that line was just...Well, I hope it wasn't left out.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2005 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)
"Kill the spare" was there and as chilling on film as it was on the page.
prettyveela From: prettyveela Date: November 19th, 2005 05:40 am (UTC) (Link)
There's some future set-up added. Barty-Jr-as-Moody mentions the Department of Mysteries, and, more interestingly, Karkaroff's testimony about Snape has him argue with Dumbledore's assertion that Snape is a spy, saying, "No, it's a lie, he's still loyal...!" Which doesn't mean that he is, but definitely is an HBP set-up.

Yes! That's why I said in my review that we get a few book 6 moments in this movie. :)
drakyndra From: drakyndra Date: November 19th, 2005 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
*grins* I'd be annoyed by the Barty Jr thing, except for the fact that he is played by David Tennant, who is my One True Obsession (as in, I woke up at 4 am local time to see the premiere arrivals, just so I could see him (in what ended up as a minute and a half).

So, yeah. I personally consider the movies as little more than big budget fanfiction, so I can live with changes.

But more Tennant is always a good thing. *goes back to watch CiN special, which is 5 minutes of Brand New Tennant as Doctor Who*
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