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I took the family on pilgrimage to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire over the weekend. I say pilgrimage because all of us have read the books, and there's usually some kind of tussle regarding who will get to read the new books first. My fourteen year-old (aka Earwax Boy) went to see a midnight showing on Thursday. I didn't get much of a review from him on Friday, except that "they left all kinds of stuff out!" On Sunday afternoon, I took the family with me to see what's what.
First, though. . . PREVIEWS!
Cheaper By the Dozen 2 - Well, we could see this one coming from a mile off. Still, the recent version was amusing and Steve Martin IS the funniest man alive, so I guess a sequel is in order. This one also stars Eugene Levy, who has risen in my estimation lately, When it comes to sophomoric humor, Levy is da bomb, yo!
Akeelah and the Bee - A movie that stars both Larry Fishburne and Angela Bassett and is about. . . a spelling bee. Ummm, been there and done that. Forgive me for NOT pitching a tent at this (lamebrained, dumbass, stupid shit) idea.
Monster House - Animated kids find out that the creepy house on their street is alive and eats people. And cars. Looks okay for an animated flick (though it's no Akira) and the voice talent ought to carry it a tad. I'll probably see it at the dollar theater.
King Kong - Who am I kidding? PJ is directing a remake of King Kong and I now have children. Ergo, I'll see this on the big screen opening weekend. It looks like Jackson's added a few little details - like FREAKING DINOSAURS!!! - to this film, so I'll be interested to see how it all turns out. I'd still like to see Jessica Lange dropped from 90 stories up, and I still want to know: Whatever happened to Fay Wray? That delicate, satin-draped frame. . . .
Lady In the Water - What happens when Paul Giamatti is cast to play Everyman in a flick created by M. Night Shyamalan? I dunno, but I'm just barely curious enough to find out. This one is a date night flick with the wife. Could be interesting.
Superman Returns - Yow. In the works for years and finally coming through. The preview looks good. It looks true to what Bob Kane had envisioned. They got a gen-yoo-wine farm boy to play the Man of Steel, they woke Marlon Brando up to play Jor-el and it has Parker Posey. I guess I'll have to see it on the big screen, then. It's that simple. Bryan Singer is directing, so I don't think this will suck too badly. The next X-Men flick, though. . . who knows?
Happy Feet - Robin Williams and Elijah Wood are penguins. One of them can't sing, so he woos chicks with his tap dancing. WTF? I'll be knee-deep in schnapps the night I watch this stinker.
And now. . . OUR FEATURE PRESENTATION! (yeah, I got spoilers aplenty)
As the years have gone by, Harry Potter films have grown more and more dark. More mature. Apparently, the days of laughter and fun at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are long gone. While J.K. Rowling's books have maintained a healthy balance of fun and danger, the filmmakers of this piece of (drek-filth-Hollywood formula shite) cinema have decided not to follow the formula that has worked so well in the past. In fact, it's almost like someone said in a meeting, "Harry Potter doesn't have many fans who read the books, so we have to appeal to everyone else." If you've never read the books, the movie will be pretty neat. If you HAVE read the books, the movie will suck ass and you'll get angry at the people who conned you into blowing $9 on a ticket.
Oh, yeah! Just to get this out of the way, I need to point out some glaring omissions. There are no dementors. There is no SPEW. There are no house-elves. There is no Hogsmeade and there is no Sirius Black. There is nothing at all that made Hogwarts fun to watch in the first few films. Just thought I ought to let you know.
Okay, here we go. Harry's a year older (and shaving that thick beard) and getting ready to go back to school. The Quiddich World Cup is about to take place, but we don't care because. . . we never get to see any of it. Nevermind that the Quiddich scenes are some of the favorites from the last three films. This film doesn't have ANY of it. Sorry about your luck.
Death Eaters show up. They're not torturing muggles. They're just tearing shit up, like they're cheering for Manchester United and have wands.
They show us Barty Crouch, Jr. in the beginning of the film. There's no Tinky Winky or Dobby. There is no pilfering of wands. There is nothing that would really make you want to watch this yet, if you've read the book.
The arrival of the ship from Durmstrang is seriously cool, though. The carriage from France is okay, but the ship's arrival in the middle of the lake is seriously cool. Word to your mother.
Since there are no leprechauns and no leprechaun gold, we don't really know why Ron is so pissed at Harry. It's just kind of neat when Ron tells Harry to piss off.
Rita Skeeter is done well, even if we NEVER see what happens to her and why she's able to get the scoops that she does. Plus, she looks a lot like my mom, which is a little disconcerting. As a matter of fact, the issue of her getting scoops that she shouldn't be able to get. . . is never an issue. They just skipped it.
Sirius Black shows up once, in the embers of a fire in Hogwarts. It's not at all as described in the book, and he never shows up as a huge dog.
I'd better give some good news, or you'll just never bother to watch this. Brendan Gleeson was pegged to play Mad-Eye Moody, and I think he does a brilliant job. The gents who play Fred and George Weasley are magnificent! They get a lot more screen time than before, but their roles are still just as filler. The Hungarian Horntail that Harry has to battle is done very well, especially considering that the battle was. . . exaggerated a tad. The dragon gets loose and chases Harry all over creation. If this scene had been done just a little bit more poorly, we fans of the books would have gotten cranky about the whole thing. As it is, the scene was done well enough that I loved it.
Neville is more prominent. That's cool. We get to see more of his personality, which serves his character well. We see him at the ball, before the second task, and throughout the film. He's still not stealing any scenes, but we're being set up well for what we can expect in the next couple of films. Parvati and Lavender Patil are both more present (and looking great), and we truly meet Cho Chang for the first time. Along with Neville's more prominent performance, we get to see a lot more emotionally out of Hermione. Emma Watson has apparently been attending acting class, since she's the one person in this film who shows any kind of growth in the ability department. Moaning Myrtle is in the film briefly, and she's definitely feeling her oats. If you thought that a ghost might be trying to sneak a peek at Potter's privates, you're right.
This film does a lot of things right. We truly feel the anguish from Cedric Diggory's dad when his son is returned to him, dead. The maze is truly forboding, though it lacks ALL of the threats that were offered in the books. Harry and the crew are obviously becoming teenagers and going through all of the emotional crap that comes along with that. The effects are well done and not overstated. The guy filling in as Dumbledore for Richard Harris (no, I haven't bothered to figure out his name yet) does a good enough job, though it's painfully obvious why Harris got the job and not this guy. Dame Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall is predictably good, though nothing more than expected. The Weasley twins and Ron and Hermione and some others really do a lot for this film, but we realize after leaving that their performances were distracting us. The film wasn't that great. Their performances were just keeping us from realizing that.
The films has holes. It has more gaping holes than a Troma film made in two days. There is ZERO character development. Apparently, the people who made it decided that getting every Harry Potter fan in the world wasn't enough. They wanted that unclaimed audience, and sacrificed much of the plot to capture it. What we wound up with is a film that would essentially be deemed pretty cool by the non-Potter audience, but would be frankly condemned by anyone who appreciated the books. It maintains the bare basics of the plotline, but none of the subplots that made the books so fun.
Was it a good film? Absolutely. Should you go to see it on the big screen? If you're a die-hard Potter fan, you've already been to see it. If you're waffling and aren't sure about seeing it on the big screen, wait until it hits the dollar movie. Read the book. Read all of the books that are current and upcoming, and pray that they next directors pay more attention to you than they do to the advisors who told them that they didn't need to include everything that's in the plot.
As a filler film, it does fine. As an independent entity, it does okay, though it will leave you a little bit confused. As a supplement to those who are fans of the books, though. . . it's the most diluted piece of crap that you could have ever expected. Bide your time, read books five and six, and wait for something better.
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