John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

I need to point out another flaw in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: it had no armadillos. It is not hard to make a Harry Potter film that contains both Susan Bones and an armadilllo, as Chris Columbus demonstrated in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I will be very disappointed if David Yates drops the ball on these two key metrics as he directs Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Very disappointed indeed.

(When I asked my niece what she thought of GoF, she said it was awesome, "because it had a ferret in it." (She is recently obsessed with ferrets and is engaged in an almost certainly futile campaign to get one as a pet.) I said that I had the exact opposite reaction: I didn't like it because it didn't have an armadillo in it. My brother then observed that we were both nitwits.)

The absence of Susan Bones and armadillos notwithstanding, I liked Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, though not as much as I liked Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I came out of Azkaban excited that I would be seeing again it the very next day. GoF didn't inspire that same level of excitement in me. Yeah, I'll probably see it again, but not right away. Seeing Walk the Line is a higher priority for me at this point.

(If David Yates really wants to get on my good side, he'll include Susan Bones, an armadillo, and Reese Witherspoon in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Yeah, sure, she's American, but in this increasingly homogeneous global marketplace, does that really matter? I submit that it does not.)

Sorry, I keep getting distracted. Here's what I liked about the movie. I liked that Barty Crouch Jr. was introduced early in the film, and that in the Pensieve scene Karkaroff was the one to finger him as a Death Eater. I liked the many scenes taking place at the school; it made Hogwarts seem like more of a real school to see so many scenes of the students just hanging around doing homwork and being cruel to Harry. I liked Cho's accent, and seeing Fleur in a swimsuit. I liked that we saw more of Ginny than we did in Azkaban (even if she wasn't necessarily doing much of anything). I liked Brendan Gleason as Mad-Eye Moody, even though his leg didn't look right and it took me a while to get used to the strap-on eye. I liked how Madame Maxime plucked something out of Hagrid's beard and ate it. I liked that they played down the idea that Ron was mad at Harry because he was jealous, because despite what Hermione said in the book, he wasn't. (He was mad that Harry had betrayed him by entering the contest without him.) I liked the Quidditch World Cup stadium, and that they didn't waste time showing any of the match. And I thought Ralph Feinnes was amazingly good as Lord Voldemort. This is why we need an Oscar for casting.

I think what I liked best, though, was that by paring the book down as drastically as they did, they improved it as both a story in general and as a mystery in particular. Seeing Barty Crouch throughout the movie (even if you didn't know who he was), watching Moody constantly drinking from his flask, and hearing the several verbal clues about Polyjuice potion made it more fair, in that it's possible to imagine guessing that Moody was an imposter. Also, it gave Neville some time in the sun, by letting him be the one to tell Harry about the gillyweed.

There were a couple of things I (genuinely) didn't like. I didn't much care for the scene in which the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang entered the Great Hall at Hogwarts. I was puzzled as to why they decided to place the Owlry so far from the school. (And come to think of it, doesn't that contradict the first movie?) I thought Miranda Richardson could have done more with Rita Skeeter.

But I think the biggest problem with the movie was the way they downplayed the Ron/Hermione stuff. The relationship between Ron and Hermione was, for my nickel, the best part of the book, and I think they needed to do more to play up that part of the storyline in the movie. But no, instead of seeing the fun, charmingly awkward Ron/Hermione scenes that made GoF my favorite of the books, we instead get to see a bunch of baffling and thoroughly non-canonical Harry/Hermione scenes. Bah.

But the good outweighed the bad by far. Bottom line, good movie, but not without its flaws. Go see it.
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