Monday, November 21, 2005

"Kill the Spare" (The Goblet of Fire -- With Spoilers)

We caught the new Harry Potter movie last night at the Henry Ford Imax. This time, I decided to re-read the book so that I could see how they would adapt this one. The answer? They cut the bejesus out of it. A lot of the subplots were either eliminated or metioned in a cursory way. S.P.E.W. was no more, Rita Skeeter became less pesty, the whole Hagrid-giant thing was cut, and so on. In some ways, I was disappointed that I had re-read the book so recently, because I found myself spending too much time trying to decide whether or not I liked the omissions and changes. In the end, I'm glad I did read it, though, because there was such a wealth of background information that I would not have remembered otherwise and which made the scenes that much deeper.

The director/screenwriter did a good overall job on the adaptation, I thought. This was probably the most action-packed of the books, and there was a lot of background information on new characters that had to be hit on. The pace of the movie was a little breathless at times, but it had to be, I think, to get in even what they did. The two nitpicks I had were that I thought Krum, while a star athlete, wasn't supposed to be that good-looking (although my sister disagreed) and I did not like the changes to Harry's challenge against the Hungarian Horntail. I thought it was unnecessary and actually counter-productive to the portrayal of Harry as a talented flier. On the other hand, the one change I really liked was having Neville give Harry the gillyweed instead of Dobby. It just felt less contrived than the way Ms. Rowling, for whom I have the utmost respect, wrote it in the novel.

Where does this movie rank? Even though the novel is probably my favorite of those so far, I would rank this movie second, contingent upon a re-watch. I rank The Prisoner of Azkaban first, because I really liked the atmosphere and feel that Alfonso Cuaron added to Hogwarts. It felt a little more gritty, and real, than the Chris Columbus interpretation of the first two. This movie was somewhere in between, but where it was a little off, I felt, was that it felt at times too much like an action movie.

I don't want to sound too negative, though. The movie had a great cast (Mad-Eye was hilarious), high the important points, and had a pretty freaky, although very odd-looking, Voldemort. A great job, even if I would have paid happily the extra money to see this one done in two parts.


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