Everything’s going to change now, isn’t it?

18 Nov

        I love midnight shows. Everybody claps when the previews start. And when it’s a midnight showing of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, everybody claps when Neville starts dancing, or Harry takes his shirt off… and everybody “oooh”s when Ron tells Harry to piss off, and when Cedric Diggory is introduced…. Plus, at least half of the audience, if not more, was in costume.
        Also, we got to see the movie.
        And what a fabulous movie it is. I think they have finally figured out how to adapt the books. The first movie was almost scene for scene like the book, with a bit of condensing, and while it managed to capture the joy of discovering a magical school and learning to be a wizard, it’s not, on it’s own, a particularly good movie. The second movie tried to be scene for scene like the book, but the book was too long for that so it felt like a cinematic outline of the book’s highlights. It’s more of a visual and auditory companion to the book than it is a movie. The third movie they tried actually taking the story of the book and making a movie out of it. They took one central plotline (Harry Potter grows up, simultaneously becoming and getting a father figure) and wrote a decent movie script. Then they put in other details from the book and made an excellent movie. However, I don’t think they put enough details back in from the book. They kept the perspective too tight on Harry. There wasn’t enough explanation as to what was happening in the rest of the wizarding world. But now, finally, they took the story of book four and made a movie out of it and widened the perspective a bit too include other characters. Now we see Harry’s story, and Voldemort’s story, and a bit of Hagrid’s story, and a bit of Dumbledore’s story, etc. It’s what had to be done with the book since one of the themes is the simultaneous widening and unifying of the wizarding world. It’s my favorite book of the six, I think, although Half-Blood Prince is amazing. Goblet of Fire is a brutal story where despite decency and goodness, (in fact, because of decency and goodness,) innocent lives are lost and evil grows in strength. It’s really kinda fucked up.
        I do think the pacing felt a little uneven in the beginning. It starts off fine with the dream/Voldemort’s plan, but then it’s very very quick to skip the Dursleys completely and go straight to The Burrow for one brief shot and then to the portkey to meeting Cedric to the Quidditch World Cup which we don’t get to see because of the Death Eaters which we don’t get to see because Harry passes out and when he wakes up everything is burned (and this could have slowed down a little if they had left in Barty Crouch using Priori Incantatum to prove Harry didn’t shoot off the Dark Mark and also showing us what Priori Incantatum is, but they didn’t have that scene, and so) we go to Hogwarts and the other schools arrive and then Mad-Eye arrives and then the movie slows down again. The only classroom scene in the movie happens here, where we learn the unforgivable curses and that something is up with Neville… aside from the fact that he apparently has a very large group of vocal fans in the Napa Valley. The crying stained glass window behind Neville is a beautiful image, and it’s good to see that they’ve finally started telling the book’s stories in movie language. From this point on I think the pacing was good, with just enough of everything even though I wanted more. Until the graveyard scene. Which you should absolutely not read about at all unless you have seen the movie or at least read the book.
        But you’re still reading. So you must already know about Voldemort’s return (and don’t give me shit about saying his name… it’s shorter than “He Who Must Not Be Named”) which was handled really beautifully. The look of Voldemort in this movie is amazing. A perfect combination of snake and human, he’s frighteningly entrancing to look at. I know he’s evil, but he looks almost… pretty. In a sickly way.
        If there is any place in the movie that could have used more detail and explanation, it’s here in the graveyard. Voldemort returns and calls his Death Eaters, identifying the ones who show up. But who are the ones who didn’t show up?? Why doesn’t he ask where they are? Karkaroff? Snape? The few that are still in Azkaban? Crouch Jr? (He knows where some of them are… but why doesn’t he tell the others, like in the book, as a way of proving that they could have been more loyal to him?) And then he duels with Harry when their wands lock and there’s a light show and some ghosts and if you haven’t read the book I can’t imagine this made any sense whatsoever. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t really explain it. Fortunately, it does offer Dumbledore saying that it was “Priori Incantatum” or something like that, so at least the characters know what happened. Really, this is a shame because they put the great scene in the first movie with Olivander when “the wand chooses the wizard and it isn’t clear why.” Harry and Voldemort have sibling wands, both containing a feather from Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, and he could have mentioned this as well as “Priori incantatum,” thus explaining to both the characters and the audience why their wands locked up when they tried to duel. On the other hand, maybe nobody who hasn’t read the book sees this movie.
        And that’s it. I can’t think of anything else (after seeing the movie only once) that I would have preferred they do differently. It’s a nearly perfect movie.
        All the performances are good, with the kids of course getting better each time. Dan Radcliffe, when he returns from the graveyard crying, in pain, bleeding, and with a dead body, gives immense weight and presence to his declaration regarding Voldemort. It’s a surprisingly powerful scene. The camera work was different (a different director will do that I suppose) with a ton of really close up shots on the characters and not nearly as many swooping camera shots. In this movie, Hogwarts felt like a real school with strict teachers and a dance, and not like a fun magical place. Which is good, because at this point in the series, magic isn’t to the characters what it is to us. It’s familiar and commonplace to them. It’s subject matter, like algebra. (Although, it is fun to have Harry walk into the tent at the Quidditch World cup and exclaim that he loves magic.) The music works fine even though it isn’t John Williams and doesn’t sound all that good on CD. The special effects, unlike each of the previous Harry Potter movies, don’t seem hugely better than the ones in the last movie, but the ones in the last movie are nearly perfect, so that’s ok. The underwater sequence looked awesome, especially when he first finds the four missing people suspended in the water. The prefects bathtub with its multi-colored faucet and moving stained glass window was really cool. The moment when Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet is played perfectly, with him walking the gauntlet through the great hall into the room of champions. Hagrid and Madame Maxime are… cute… I guess. Snape is good as usual, and I can’t wait to see him in the sixth movie. It’s a bit odd that there’s a mosh pit of sorts and a game of pass-the-tiny-teacher going on at the rock show during the ball, but hey, these are some weird people in a very strange school. And I know there was a ton more from this movie that I loved, like Neville dancing with himself (and Ginny) and when I go see it again, i’m sure i’ll be reminded of them. Fabulous.
        Everything is going to change now, isn’t it? They’ve finally figured it out with this movie, but movie five has a new screenwriter (these first four have all been written by Steve KIoves) and a new director, and a huge jumble of a book to take a lot out of. The first part will be all inner drama and angst and politics, and then at the end there’s a huge battle, and a huge duel, with a huge battle in between. Oh, and then there’s some stuff about a prophecy. Good luck making a good movie out of that. I hope they do.
        Plus, there were dragons. Little ones and a really big one that looked awesome. So, to sum up?
        The movie is great. It has dragons in it. And Ginny.

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3 Responses to “Everything’s going to change now, isn’t it?”

  1. tinycaredance November 18, 2005 at 10:05 pm #

    that last line sums it up.
    I WANT A DRAGON!!! i don’t care, i side with hagrid on this one. too cute. and ginny is amazing. i love her, she is by far my favorite character.
    everything about the “midnight showing group” is true. people clapped when the credits played. neville was too cute when he http://www.livejournal.com/allpics.bml?user=tinycaredance
    Picturewas dancing by himself.
    i had forgotten when i wrote my “review” about the mosh pit. yeah i agree that was bizarre. and hermine’s scene where she told ron to grow some courage (when her hair was all dishelved) i thought that was a big step for emma watson.
    not so much with ron’s character. i think they’re kinda making him into a stupid oaf. i duno.
    yay dragons.
    and ginny.

  2. tinycaredance November 18, 2005 at 10:06 pm #

    i dont’ know what its trying to link to… ignore that.

    • junorhane November 18, 2005 at 10:47 pm #

      Ginny is my favorite character too. I’m glad they’ve kept the same actress for her and keep making her part as big as they can.
      I don’t know about stupid oaf, but they sure are exaggerating Ron’s clumsiness with girls… (and Hermione in particular…) He does a lot of catching up in book 6.

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