Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Just to get it straight, I have not read a single line in a Harry Potter Book. Not that I don't want to, but because I don't have the time. Probably when I finally watched all the movies would I consider and find time to read what JK Rowling had originally intended. So, at least you know that my review is solely based on the cinematic franchise.

And I'm glad to say that this movie had lived up to its hype of being darker and more adult. Gone are the muggles (hardly see any now) which opened each HP movie before (with added comedy, now thrown out), and you're plunged straight into the thick of action with the Quidditch World Cup. Which turns into a massacre of sorts, signalling the inevitable of the evil Lord Voldemort.

Not that the muggles are left out on purpose, but if you had taken a look at this book's length, it's no surprise that unnecessary subplots need not get translated to screen. Stick with the main plot, and trim it down to a more palatable 2hr 45min movie. But with so much going on screen, you will hardly realize the length of time in which you butt is on a cinema seat.

So what's the main plot you say? It's the Tri-Wizards tournament, a potentially deadly series of 3 games which pit the skills of the wizards from 3 schools against each other. The winner will be crowned with eternal glory. But something seemed strange when Harry Potter somehow got nominated by the Goblet of Fire to participate, thus bringing the number of contestants to 4, and breaking the age limit set in this tournament. As usual, there is always a major mystery that runs throughout the movie - the motive behind his nomination and taking part in the Tri-Wizards tournament, which gets solved in the end with the introduction of a twist (which may not be a twist for those who've read the books).

So while Harry is surprised and becomes the reluctant hero, he has to grapple with first loves and crushes, while trying to convince best friend Ron that it wasn't his intention to gain eternal glory and therefore rigged his nomination for the tournament.

Great care is given to make the tournament come alive with its special effects, and to that, it's faultless. While we didn't see the other dragons in action, the Hungarian species (no dragons were harmed in the making of this movie, says the end credits) which challenged Potter could be one of the best action sequences in Goblet of Fire. However, with the intense focus on this, something's gotta give way, and sadly, it's the relationship between Harry, Ron and Hermione. Not that they don't get to interact, but the camaraderie and the bickering these folks endeared themselves to are somehow sorely missed. Goblet of Fire seemed more like a one-man show (Harry Potter's), while the other two become peripheral characters. Quite a pity.

But the actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint still delivered, and with them growing up in real time, adds a dimension of maturity to the cult characters they play. So much is said about Radcliffe's half nude scene (with a character from a past movie), and of Cho Chang, but what probably iced the cake was Ralph Fiennes' appearance as Lord Voldemort. One word - chilling!

One scene did irk me though, and that is the careless editing at the prom/ball scene. One minute Harry and Ron were sulking at the table, with Hermione obviously in cloud nine with the company of Viktor Krum, the next minute they're bickering and she's crying. While I know what they are trying to get at, and hint at a possible jealousy between Ron and Hermione, the editing was poorly done and was just jarring, disrupting the pace and flow. I didn't figure why they would want to scrimp on that scene, what's a few minutes more in a long movie, or they could take it out altogether.

Nonetheless, I dare say this is the best Harry Potter movie to date, though some would disagree with my opinion that the movies have seemed to better itself with each sequel. Bring on the Order of the Phoenix!

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