Sunday, October 17, 2010

Goblet of Fire - Movie review

So, I was playing flag football yesterday and for those of you who know me, know I'm not the most intimidating of specimens being only 5'7" and weighing all of a buck-fifty. Imagine Colin Creevy trying to play Quidditch on the Gryffindor team. That would have been me. Anyway, after a missed catch, a teammate of mine told me to use the "Accio Football" spell. So of course, I tried. I left the field that day with the following conclusion... the spell's busted. That's my excuse anyway.

Alright, enough of my visions of grandeur and on to the movie review!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So Gryffindorks, as promised, I'm giving you my review of the Goblet of Fire movie. I haven't given my reviews of many of the other films and that's mostly because I've felt pretty strong about this one in particular as you'll see.

The best thing I can say about this movie, is that this premiere was the most fun I've attended. At risk of totally pegging the "Geek-o-meter," I'll tell you that I actually dressed up for this premiere. A bunch of friends and myself went to the midnight showing at a huge theater complex in Utah which had, correct me if I'm wrong, over 20 theatres with most of them showing Harry Potter. The complex was packed with Potter-ites. I, of course, was dressed as Harry and with us, we had a Snape, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione, Rita Skeeter, Ginny, and Trelawny. One of the best movie experiences of my life. I could totally "geek out" and get away with it because most of the people there were college students like myself.

The only disappointing thing was the movie itself. The following are my gripes about the movie:

1.) Dumbledore was just not right. In the book, Dumbledore is stressed and concerned, but in a quiet way. The strain didn't show to the students. In the movie, he was on edge the entire movie. No where in the books do you ever see Dumbledore lose his cool. I felt that by the 6th movie, Michael Gambon finally got Dumbledore right...mostly. I didn't feel that throughout the movie that Dumbledore was in control.

2.) Awful casting for Barty Crouch Jr. The character didn't fit the description of the Barty Crouch Jr. in the books at all. He wasn't a very believable villain. In the book, he creeped me out. His devotion to Voldemort was bordering on religous reverence, but in a really really creepy way. His character in the movie was pretty laughable.

3.) The maze. I understand having to cut out large portions of the book to fit it into one movie, but why change the maze completely? There was really no explanation in the movie for why the maze behaved the way it did. It was weird and I felt it could have been more true to the book without sacrificing time.

4.) The writing for Hermione was not true to her character. What I mean by that is that there was a disproportionate amount of time whining, moping, and fretting. Yes, there were those moments in the book, but there were times when she was quite cheerful too. We didn't get any of that in the movie.

5.) Not enough explanation about the Triwizard Tournament. I would have been very confused about the whole concept of the tournament had I not read the books. I felt kind of like they were making it up as they went. It didn't fit into the large overall plot of the series without any context.

6.) Not enough Snape. Underutilized talent. Enough said.

Now for some highlights:

1.) Brendan Gleeson was a fantastic Mad-eye Moody. He captured the essence of the character from the book very well, as well as providing a lot of comedy relief without being over the top. Mad-eye isn't meant to be a comical character in the books, but the way Gleeson pulled it off in the movie really worked.

2.) Voldemort's return scene at the end of the book was fitting in its creepyness. I'm sure there was a lot of pressure on Ralphe Fiennes to portray one of the most popular literary villains of all time acurately. I say that he did a pretty good job on his debut. My only complaint about that scene is that it could have been longer, but I can see why it wasn't. Most of what happened in the book is what is going on inside Harry's head. It's hard to see what he's thinking in a movie.

3.) One scene in particular that was done very well was the one when Harry returns to the stadium after having confronted Voldemort. The discord between the cheery band playing with the cheering of the crowd, and the absolute horror of what has just happened was quite powerful. It was a really uncomfortable moment, like a clown showing up to a funeral instead of a birthday party, but it was uncomfortable in a good way that added to the drama.

Out of all of the movies that have been produced thus far, I liked this one the least. With that said, I still love the movies. I imagine to myself that at some point in my lifetime, they'll redo the movies. I look forward to sitting in my handicapped accessable spot in the theatre with my fake wand in hand and a eye-liner drawn scar on my forehead.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Goblet of Fire Chapters 1 -2

Merlin's Beard! This book is long!

Welcome to the beginning of another book, Gryffindorks. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the 4th book in the series and really serves as the pivotal book in the series. From this book on, the mood changes from rather light-hearted to very serious. The big, overall plot really takes a turn at the end of this book as we'll see. This book is the 2nd largest in the series at a staggering 734 pages! Critics said that this would deter young readers from plowing through this one, but this juggernaut turned out to be the best-selling book in the series up until the 5th was published.

To recap, here's how I've ranked the books in terms of the books I liked best:

Sorcerer's Stone: 6th out of 7
Chamber of Secrets: 7th out of 7
Prisoner of Azkaban: 4th out of 7
Goblet of Fire: 2nd out of 7

I gave the 2nd place ribbon to Goblet of Fire for several reasons:

1.) It's one of the longest. More story = more awesomeness!
2.) Plot twists. This book is full of 'em.
3.) Shock factor. There are very few moments in the series that have absolutely floored me, but this story has a couple of 'em, including the death that shocked me most. There was a different death that made me the most sad, but that's another book. (No, it's not the big one in the 6th book, if that's what you're thinking.)
4.) Harry's world gets expanded. In the first few books, there is relatively little of significance that happens outside Hogwarts. This book really expands the scope of the wizarding world, with the addition of new magic, new ideas, and new characters.

With that said, I did not much like the 4th movie. This was in part due to the fact that the book was so awesome, and in part due to the book's length. The movie felt rushed. I'll offer my critique and critisisms of the movie in a later post. For now, it's off to the first two chapters.

Can I Give You a Hand?

The beginning of Goblet of Fire places us in Tom Riddle's home where we find Wormtail nursing a weak Voldemort. Wormtail, nervous, wimpering, and nearly wetting himself, begins to complain to Voldemort that the task of killing Harry Potter might prove too difficult. Voldemort replies that many of his servants would "give their right hand" to be put in the place of Wormtail. Though this hyperbole is often used, and in this case could easily be overlooked, it proves to be more than an exaggeration. Wormtail will indeed literally give his right hand.

The Village of Little What?

Even though the story of Harry Potter is told in third person, it is mostly told from Harry's perspective. It's like a reality show where the camera follows only Harry. There are a couple of chapters that take place outside Harry's presence and this is one of them. It's a great way for the reader to see what's going on outside Harry's life and see what potential things could lie in wait for our little hero.

Migraine Scar!

Harry wakes up with is scar hurting again and our little hero freaks out that Voldemort is skulking about Little Whinging. It's interesting that what Harry assumes is a dream was actually reality. Harry suspects this, but is afraid to admit it to others and to himself. This link between Harry's mind and Voldemort's becomes an extremely importand plot element of the next book.

The Boy Who Lived

In the first several books, as a reader, I've been satisfied in asking myself the same question that has been asked of all the characters in the books, "How did the boy survive?" To answer many of the secrets that lie ahead, the more important question should be, "Why did Voldemort not die?"