Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2005)

Wow.  This movie is ten years old.  How is that possible?

Anyway, I think that, as far as adapting the source material, this is the best of the Harry Potter movies.  It trims out side plots that are fun but not essential and keeps everything very focused on the Triwizard Tournament and Voldemort's return.  It feels very streamlined to me, and I really like direct, focused story-telling, as I realized when watching Iron Man 2.  The screenplay is by the same guy who did almost all the other Harry Potter movies (Steve Kloves), but this one really pleases me the most.

And this is the only Harry Potter movie I've considered buying the soundtrack for.  It's by Patrick Doyle, who I'm growing fonder and fonder of.  I already own several of his soundtracks (Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Thor) and he's composed for lots of other movies I like (Henry VSense and Sensibility, Mrs. Winterbourne, Dead Again).  I listened to several tracks from it over and over and over when I was writing a Combat! fanfic story ("Finders, Keepers") because they're haunting, melancholy, achingly beautiful.  I'd forgotten that, though, and when I watched this with Cowboy, we got to the ending and I was like, "Dana Andrews!  Ioan Gruffudd!  Why are you in my head?"  Because they were who I had guest-starring in that story, and those songs evoke them strongly for me still.

This movie isn't as pretty or as atmospheric as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but it does have some really gorgeous shots here and there, like this one of Hermione and the portkey at the beginning.

One of the things I like best about this story, both in book and film, is how it starts to show us the wizarding world as a whole, and get us as an audience and Harry as a character to understand just how many lives are imperiled by Voldemort's return.  The Quidditch World Cup does a brilliant job of impressing on us that we can't care about only the kids and professors at Hogwarts.


And of course, the Triwizard Tournament does the same thing, on a more personal scale.  Through it, we and Harry and his friends learn that there are other young wizards and witches out there that they will have to think about, rely on, work against.

One of my favorite things about JK Rowling's writing is her incessant word-play.  I am always so amused by Durmstrang, the name of the Slavic all-boys wizarding school that comes to compete in the tournament.  It clearly refers to the Sturm und Drang art movement from Germany in the late 1700s.  The words literally mean "storm and drive" or "storm and push," but are often translated "storm and stress."  The Sturm und Drang movement sort of spawned the Romantics, and it was all about sweeping, powerful emotions, very anti-Rationalism.  And those Durmstrang boys certainly embody all of that, don't they?  Even their entrances, first their ship rising from the lake by Hogwarts and then the boys stomping and pounding their way up the aisle toward Dumbledore -- very dramatic and big, stormy and pushy.


Okay, so anyway, this story marks the beginning of the real growing up for our heroes, doesn't it.  Until now, they've been kids having fun, learning stuff, getting into a little trouble, solving some mysteries -- nothing very serious.  (Okay, all the stuff about Sirius Black is serious, cuz getting imprisoned for something you didn't do is no joke.)  But here, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to do some actual growing up, moving into the adult world.  Which is not one of my favorite themes, ever, but somehow I don't mind it much in these books.  Huh.




There are a lot more adult characters in this story, too.  And they're not always keen on helping the kids or on the kids helping them.


Very serious things happen in this movie.  People are hurt, the Quidditch World Cup grounds are ruined.  People die.  This scene here makes me so, so sad:


One of my favorite visual choices for this film is how they costume the Death Eaters.  In the books, Rowling describes them as wearing black hooded robes and masks.  And I always envisioned just a robe with a hood, like a jacket with a hood.  But in the movie, they give them tall pointed hats that instantly make me think of the Klansmen, which obviously is what the Death Eaters behave like, with their fixation on blood purity and all.  But until I saw the movie, I never made that connection.  With one visual, the filmmakers instantly made me get it, which is really great work on their part.


Okay, I quick have to mention David Tennant just because he plays Hamlet in one of my favorite adaptations.  By the time I saw that, I completely couldn't remember him in this movie, other than knowing from imdb.com that he plays Barty Crouch, Jr.  He only gets a few scenes at the beginning and end, but he makes the most of them.  Also, in this moment here, he looks like a '50s hoodlum, with his leather coat's collar flipped up and his hair slicked down.  That made me grin even though he's a bad guy.  It was hard to screencap, though.


So in this movie, we finally get to see Voldemort for real.  Played so slimily by Ralph Fiennes -- oh my, he's just disgusting.  They did a superb job with his look, and of course Fiennes' acting is great.


The finale is filmed so well -- look at how full of interesting stuff this frame is!  We've got Cedric's dead body and the portkey in the foreground, that creepy statue that's been a pivotal focal point throughout the film, Harry and Voldemort locked in a wizarding duel, Death Eaters hanging out on the fringes kinda freaking out over what's happening here -- wow.


All in all, I really like this adaptation.  It's my favorite of the Harry Potter movies, with Prisoner of Azkaban running second and Deathly Hallows -- Part 2 third.  That may change as we continue to slowly watch our way through the series, though.

23 comments:

  1. My favorite moment from the film is also my favorite moment from the book .... Draco Malfoy, the bouncing ferret. (I'm so bad ...) What I also found interesting is that Moody/BCJ came across as genuinely kind to Neville. Remorse for what happened to Neville's parents, or just good acting (by the character, I mean)?

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    1. It's a fun moment :-)

      That's a good note about Moody/BCJ being kind to Neville. Of course, he's feeding him info on plants so Harry will know about gillyweed. But he does do that in a very kind manner. Either BCJ is super crafty, or he did have some spark of non-loony humanity.

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  2. This is my favorite of the movies as well, though I still have yet to see the very last one! Must remedy that. This movie just seemed very cohesive, very well-put together. And it has my favorite score by far of all the Harry Potter movies. Funny, too, cuz I also think of Dana listening to the music, but that's because I wrote a lot of DTD to this one. :-D

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    1. It really is a beautiful score. I should see if I could just get the mp3 version on Amazon cuz it's not one I feel like I need to own the disc of, but I'd like to listen to more of the music. And how amusing that it makes us both think of Dana! You turned me on to the score, I know, but that was rather after you wrote DTD, I think.

      "Cohesive" is the word I was looking for. All I could think of was "focused."

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  3. My least favorite of the Potter movies, actually. There are some really great elements. But just a lot of stuff seems off. I won't even start on Michael Gambon's performance. Oh Richard Harris, we miss you!

    The three leads seem off to me as well, especially Watson's performance. I think it's because the director didn't guide the actors as much in this film. Anyway, I've written tons on this movie over the years so I won't dredge up everything again.

    But I definitely agree on the entrance of Durmstrang. Wicked cool!

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    1. While I enjoy Gambon in other things, he just doesn't have that sweetness and mischievousness that Harris brought to the role. Plus, of course, this is the one where he shoves Harry up against a wall, which is not something I see the book Dumbledore ever doing.

      Interesting that you feel things here are off. I thought the acting from the three leads was on par with Prisoner and of course a far cry from the first two. What besides them felt off to you? Or just the atmosphere, general feel of the film?

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    2. The general feel of the film seems off to me. It seems choppy. I know people say this is the most cohesive of the films but it just doesn't hang together for me. Perhaps doesn't help that GOF is perhaps the least favorite of the books for me. Not that I dislike the book, I just like others in the series more.

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    3. I see. Thanks for explaining!

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  4. How is this 10 years old?!?! :D Excellent Film! Love it to pieces... and like George said above ... Richard Harris we miss you so much!

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    1. I know, right? I still think of this as a new movie! Sigh.

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  5. At last, a positive review of this film! I honestly don't know why people don't like this film! I agree, I also enjoyed how focused the story was! Lovely review!

    ~Jamie

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    1. Until I posted this, I wasn't aware that anyone even had negative feelings about this one. Glad you liked my review :-)

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  6. I love this adaptation. Apart from their awful retro haircuts, everything about it is perfect and I think it captures both the magic and peril of this fictional world the best out of all the films. It has the perfect balance of humor and danger.

    I do have one nitpick, though -- David Tennant should have played Lupin. Much more appropriate role for him and he fits the ideal Lupin in my head. He was wasted on Barty Crouch Jr, but he did an excellent job.

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    1. Yes, it's very well balanced, isn't it? Not super dark, but not corny either.

      Tennant would have been a marvelous Lupin! Perhaps he wasn't available for film 3, so they couldn't use him yet then? Surely you can't be the only person to have that lovely idea.

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    2. I like David Thewlis as an actor, but he's just not how I pictured Remus from the book.

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    3. Ditto on Thewlis. Nothing like the Lupin in my head. Tennant is much closer.

      I rather suspect, rather than Tennant being busy, that no one on the casting crew (who overall did a rubbish job in my view -- everyone in the cast is much too old for their parts other than the child actors) thought about him.

      Harry's parents died when he was a baby. Presuming they had him shortly after they got married, they would have been twenty-ish around the time they died. That means James, Lily, Remus, Peter, Sirius, and Snape would have all been in their thirties throughout most of Harry's stories -- and we have actors who are ten to twenty-five years too old for the parts.

      I love British productions overall, but they do this a lot -- cast the parts a decade too old, if not even more than that. Maggie Smith and the two Dumbledore actors are really the only "adult" cast members who are roughly about the right age.

      I like to think about recasting the whole thing -- and that's when David Tennant as Lupin, Richard Armitage as Snape, Rosamund Pike as Narcissa, etc, all makes sense.

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    4. I know most people seem to like Gary Old man (I do, myself, ala Thewlis), but would it have been too much to ask that Sirius have dark, preferably BLACK)?

      Signed,

      Crochettie Beldame, Secretary
      The Nitpicky Society

      P.s. Sorry -- my head hears what you say, but Alan Rickman will always be Snape for me,age or no. Also, I thought Robbie Coltrane was perfect as Hagrid.

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    5. Sigh. That first para should have ended with the word HAIR.

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    6. I tend to be really forgiving of age discrepancies, so none of that has ever bothered me. And while Gary Oldman doesn't match the Sirius in my head, I like him so well as an actor that I don't care.

      But I know someone who might really dig Richard Armitage as Snape.

      Come to think of it, imagine Luke Evans as Sirius Black. Oh man, now I'm never gonna have that image out of my head!

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  7. I've always believed that Goblet of Fire was underrated! I loved both the book and the film, and I agree, it's definitely a turning point in Harry's life--him and his friends are having to be "more adult," and the plot is starting to become darker and darker. Glad you enjoyed the music, too. I love Harry Potter soundtracks :) - Maggie @ macarons & paperbacks

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    1. High five for another GOF fan! :-D

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  8. I actually like David Thewlis as Lupin. But I certainly agree that they chose actors way older than the actual Marauder Era characters and it doesn't quite come off.

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    1. Since they're all of an age, though, it never really bothered me.

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