11/19/2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Meh

I'm not a Harry Potter fan, nor have I ever professed to be one. I've never read the books and I've only seen one film, the previous one, and only that because of Gary Oldman and Alfonso Cuaron, so I feel I can say with some certainty that I'm quite the outsider when it comes to this subject.

I can also say, in terms of pure cinema, this fourth Potter film was, to put it mildly, quite boring for me. There were some clever, funny, creepy, and spooky moments, to be sure, but they were few and far between, and what filled in the gaps was, very simply, dull. As an outsider, I felt no emotional attachment to these characters. I can't say I cared about them one way or another, which is always a problem with adaptations. You have to please your core audience, of course, but you also want to entice and entertain those who perhaps aren't as familiar with the source material, which I don't feel this film did as well as Cuaron's Prisoner of Azkaban.

Brendan Gleeson was fantastic as "MadEye" Moody, the new, maybe-crazy Dark Arts teacher. He was just brilliant, stealing every scene he was in. And Ralph Fiennes was decidedly sinister as the series' Big (bald and noseless) Bad, Voldemort. Fiennes does villainous extremely well. Always has, ever since Schindler's List, and I think Hollywood should definitely give him more opportunities to showcase his evil side (and no, the remaining Potter films don't count).

Unfortunately, Gary Oldman's return as Sirius Black (Harry's what, godfather, right?) was all too brief. He was reduced to a pile of ashes in this film, and I mean that quite literally. His only scene was as a face of burning embers speaking to Harry from a fireplace. Nice effects and all that, but c'mon. You have Gary freakin' Oldman in your movie. There's got to be more for him to do than fizzle and crackle as kindling.

I was also rather disappointed in Mike Newell's directing. He told the story well enough, got us from point A to B to C, but he did it without any of the style and flair that Cuaron infused the last film with.

As I never read the book, I cannot comment on whether the film was accurately adapted or not. However, as I always say, when it comes to novel-to-film adaptations, you must leave the book outside the theatre as you enter. It is incredibly difficult to make any film, let alone one based on a seven-hundred plus page novel. When condensing hundreds of pages of prose into a two or two and a half hour film, and have it make sense...you must understand the sheer magnitude of such a task.

It's not an easy job, and is usually quite thankless. Screenwriters are already the least respected talent in Hollywood, and they have the hardest job. Without them, you get no movie at all, the bad or the good, so I don't want to hear anything about how different the movie is from the book. It doesn't matter. What matters is, did what was up on that screen work as a film? Was it able to adequately tell the story it set out to tell? Was the source material treated respectfully, so that the themes, the spirit, of the original work came through?

All in all, it was not the longest two and a half hours of my life, though it certainly wasn't brisk. I'm sure I'll still see the fifth film (I hear Gary Oldman's going to have a great scene in that one, what with the dying and all), though I probably wouldn't mind waiting until the DVDs come out.

And with that, I'm off to bed. It's way past my bedtime. I haven't been up this late in weeks and I am exhausted...

16 comments:

AliKat said...

Well I loved the movie :P Of course I knew the story and some things that were left out were a little disappointing. I too was hoping to see more Sirius, but I understood what they cut. My roommate, who has not read the books thought it was the best movie by far too. Admit it, you just hate Harry Potter don't you. You want to see him die you big meany! Maybe you'll like Rent better ;)

1031 said...

I don't hate Harry Potter, honest. I just, you know, don't particularly care about him. But I enjoyed the third movie. I thought that one was a lot of fun. This one just didn't do it for me.

As for Rent, well, it does have Rosario Dawson in those little "ho" shorts (there was a clip when she was on The Daily Show last week), with her butt hanging out, and you can't go wrong with that, can you?

ComicFanatic said...

Its sad, I read about those shorts and had to be sick at the same time. Being a HUGE Rosario Dawson fan, I hope that she isn't associated with puke now.

becky said...

it sucked. plain sucked. they did nothing to develop characters, it didn't flow that well, there was very little sense of time, of whether the tournament happened in the course of a month or over a school year (and one scene with snow does not count), Radcliffe and Watson are crappy actors, the actor who plays Dumbledore is portraying him much differently than the character was written, the duel scene sparked tears only because i recalled how i felt while reading it...i could go on and on. to top it off, we must have been sitting in the theater reserved for millard north middle school. however, one kind word, i think Voldemort was done rather well.

AliKat said...

ok, so it moved rather quickly, but look at the content they had to cover. Too much for one movie really, they need an extended version like Lord of the Rings had. I still enjoyed the movie though. I want to see it again and try not to have the thought every two minutes of "oh they left that out, they skipped that..."

ComicFanatic said...

Yeah, You can't really compare the movie to the book. There was way to much content to cram into a 2.5 hour movie. I think they did a good job making sure that the really important things got in. I would assume that there were sceens shot for this movie that gave it a better flow and sense of time, but they had to be cut for time.

I agree with caligirl, if they made an extended addition of this movie that had those types of sceens incorporated I would be the first on to line up. It would just be 5 hours long.

ComicFanatic said...

Oh, I also thought that Radcliff could have done a better job acting, however his acting in this movie was better then what he has shown so far. I mean at least he is showing progess.

I think Watson is a great actress. To me, she was completely believable in all of her scenes.

Ithiel said...

feh, I"m with Becky on this one.

That movie was the suck plain and simple. They could've added 3 minutes to the movie to wrap up/explain a few loose ends and it wouldn't have seemed such a rush.

I didn't mind watson's/radcliffe's acting too much tho

Angelkris said...

To all of you who didn't like it: You are the suck!

1031 said...

Hey now, we didn't call you people who liked the movie names. Let's keep it clean here, Preggers. We'll just pretend that was the baby hormones talking.

Ithiel said...

(psst! 1031! we need to make sure we don't raise the sleeping (and preggers to boot) dragon with the truth. irational has nothing in it.

AliKat said...

I think everyone is allowed their opinion of the movie and we should resort to name calling. I think I need to see it again without filling the holes they left to get a better perspective on the film standing alone. I still stand by my opinion though. I may have made the film better though by mentally splicing in the scenes they left out. Okay, here is a random question, we have the game Scene It at work and I want to get it, but I am somewhat torn between the regular edition and the Harry Potter one. Harry Potter would be cool, but I could only play it with geeks like me. So should I just get the regular one and include all my movie geek friends? Too bad my huge paycheck doesn't come until after I am in town, I think it would be fun to play with 1031, you've seen a few movies.

1031 said...

Yeah, I suppose I've seen one or two in my time.

I would purchase the regular version. I'm sure it must have one or two Harry Potter-themed questions, and it would be much more inclusive than the Potter-only one.

I hear it's a pretty fun game.

AliKat said...

yeah, this is true and it is a little expensive of a game to only be able to play it with certain friends.

becky said...

the only expression watson seems to know how to make is that one where she does the slight-disbelieving sneer accompanied by raised eyebrows. sometimes she mixes it up: she only raises one! i apologize. i'm still angry; the fourth book was my favorite. the adaptation of the first was so far beyond my expectations, the second was still good, the third was eh. are the rest gonna be any good? i'm just slowly accepting my disappointment. and miss angelkris, :|~

AliKat said...

Well now I am really afraid of the 5th movie. There is no way they can do it any justice. It has a new screenwriter and a new director, and the book is almost twice as long as Goblet of Fire. I'll still see it when it comes out in two years, but I won't expect much from it.