Who Does This?
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
GOBLET OF FIRE: So yeah, I saw it. Quick verdict: worst of the four. (My list, for the movies, is POA, SS, COS, GOF. For the books, HBP, POA, tie between PS/SS and COS, OOTP, GOF.) Longer verdict:
I. What I loved:
The opening. Scary and spooky and wonderful. And we get Barty Crouch Jr. in the very beginning, so the later revelation isn't quite so "...and that came from where?!"
The Dark Mark. Utterly perfect.
Neville. Adorable in every scene. So much love!
In the books, by the way, I cordially loathe Neville. In his scenes with Snape, I have to remind myself in Very Firm Tones that my religion says even morons don't deserve humiliation. (A maxim from which I have frequently benefited.) But in the movies, and most especially GOF, I love him and I see what his fans are talking about.
Rita's Quill: I'm only "heh" about Rita herself--fun, but not quite fun enough--but her salacious quill is hilarious. (Oh, and yes, I picked up on her cheek-stroking with Fleur. Rita, you scamp!)
Lucius vs. Voldemort: Fun!
II. Eh, I guess:
Chaos at the Quidditch World Cup: Well done, and very "life in wartime." But we lost the entire political angle of Muggle-baiting, the ethical questions of Levicorpus by Death Eaters vs. Obliviate by Ministry goons, the fact that the Dark Mark scared the faux-Eaters away, and pretty much everything else that made this scene psychologically interesting in the book.
The Hungarian Horntail: Yes, it was awesome. But 1) not necessary. Seriously. I'll get to this later, but we wasted a lot of time here, and this segment really contributed to the feeling that the movie was one set-piece after another, rather than a coherent story.
2) That's a lot of damage to the school. Is Harry's performance, as shown in the movie, really admirable? The other champions managed not to destroy half the towers and roofs around them.
The Horntail sequence was suspenseful and fun while it lasted. But almost immediately afterwards it began to feel like too much cotton candy: cloying and disorienting and pointless.
The Mystery was too obvious for those who had read the books. I don't entirely blame the filmmakers for this, but I did feel a little bit like, "OK, Polyjuice, I get it! Move on!" Still, much better than the POA movie's utter lack of explaining anything.
III. Strong dislike:
Beauxbatons: What'n Ah say What'n was up with their idiotic swoony entrance?
And while we're on the subject: It makes no sense for BB to be a girls' school while DS is a boys' school. I don't know what the function of BB is in the text, but DS is quite clearly the Dark Arts school. It has a real narrative function that isn't (as Bellatrix will tell you!) confined to the male of the species.
Cute Krum. In the book, he's described as sallow-skinned, hook-nosed, and generally Snapeish. I really hope this description foreshadows an interesting Krum character arc. Regardless, I would have loved another Snapey heartthrob.
More importantly, we get no sense of why Hermione gives him the time of day. In the book, he was bookish (I think? at least he spent lots of time in the library, though I can't remember if that was merely a ploy to woo Hermione--even so, good on him for recognizing this aspect of her character) and seemed somewhat distant from a Durmstrang that came across as manipulative and unpleasant. In the movie, it's all very He Saw Her Across A Crowded Room; which... ick.
Shrill Hermione: So I love Hermione in PS/SS, and even in COS and the book of POA. She's believably awful ("You've got dirt, on your nose. Just there. Did you know?") and believably adorable. In the movie of POA she started getting kinda generic action-heroine, which is just not who Hermione is. And in GOF she plays almost the entire movie in Fishwife mode. I didn't sense her love of the boys (especially Ron) and I really missed the text's understanding of her ruthlessness (captive Rita).
Moaning Myrtle: I love Myrtle. She's hilarious and fun, and serves as an effectively spooky guide to the characters' maturation. But in this movie she basically assaults a 14-year-old, and it was just gross. Like, she gives Harry Potter an unwanted lap dance. Seriously icky.
Daniel Radcliffe Can't Cry. Sorry. Loved the setup of that scene--everyone cheering the victory until they realize what's happened--but loathed the execution.
The ending: Anticlimax defined.
IV. Lacunae: It was obvious from the start that a lot would have to be left out in the translation from book to screen. But this is where I thought GOF truly failed. I am pretty sure I speak here as a reader and writer, not solely as a fan.
Thank goodness they left out: SPEW.
I wish I'd seen this, but I can live without it: Percy wading into the Lake, distraught to think Ron might be in danger. I... I don't love Percy (I think he'd hate me!), but I respect him, because he does work hard and seems genuinely hard-hit by the way all of his family members except Molly seem to loathe him. I feel for Percy.
Bellatrix "Crazy Like an AK'd Fox!" Lestrange. So much love!
Plot-crucial scenes we didn't see: "The Egg and the Eye" a.k.a. Snape's confrontation with fake-Moody.
The infirmary scene with Snape's revelation of his Dark Mark.
Snape and Sirius shake hands; "if you are prepared...."
And okay: I started reading the books because I read people talking about Snape. In fact, I may have read the books specifically because of discussions of Snape's role in Goblet of Fire. Watching the movies also made me a thoroughgoing Alan Rickman fangirl. So I understand that I'm biased.
But still--if you've read the series, ask yourself: Are these three scenes crucial to the next three books? Are they incidental, or do they strike at major themes of the series? I just can't see how it makes any sense at all to cut these scenes in favor of, e.g., fifteen minutes of Horntail.
So yeah: overall, not a fan. And yes, Voldemort's plan doesn't get any less stupid in the movie. Sigh.
A random note of interest: The movie keeps the scene where faux-Moody hammers home a connection between Weasleys and the Imperius Curse. Innnnteresting, no? Foreshadowing, or just "backshadowing" of the Ginny/diary plot from Book Two?
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