Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Big movie of the weekend, I hear, and yet mostly unpopular with the literary set of which I am aware. Yep, it’s November, which means it’s time for Harry Potter to go back to school. (Except for that time he went back to school in July. British people are weird; I think it’s because of all the fog.)

Note: Expect spoilers for the books below, as well as for previous movies. Well, and maybe for this movie, depending upon your perspective.

As the books get longer, the movies get longer; nevertheless, more and more of the books is disappearing. Harry faces the dangers of a magical tournament between Hogwarts and other wizarding schools around Europe while plagued by dreams of Voldemort’s return to power. Also: adolescence! Anyhow, it was pretty good for what it was. It kept the core plot elements, sacrificed a number of unnecessary elements (freedom for house elves, Percy is a prat, some guy is in hock to the goblins), and then sacrificed several wholly relevant plot elements (the second half of the Rita Skeeter plotline where the wizarding community loses its crush on the Boy Who Lived, Harry’s growing relationship with his uncle Sirius, a reasonable explanation of what happened in the climactic moment). But that’s okay in a way; as long as those elements are established solidly in the fifth movie when they would be coming to fruition, then it could still work out. Of course, that book is longer still than the current one, so it hardly seems fair to try to cram in info from an earlier book too. Luckily, this is not my problem.

In short? Decent movie, pretty to watch, and the edits are all the more painful for coming so near to being masterful and then falling short of it. I’m missing all the actual wizard-learning as well, but that is disappearing from the books too, so, y’know. Below the cut, my one big (and unmistakably spoilerish) complaint with the film adaptation.

It’s like this. Voldemort gives the traditional Dumbledore Scooby-Doo speech. Which is fine, we’ve established in the movies that Dumbledore is clever, it doesn’t have to be him every single time. But part of that speech is about how the old magic that kept Harry alive, and then safe in all the intervening years was his mother’s love. The entire point of the next couple of books, that seems to be forming the central theme of the series, is that Voldemort doesn’t understand love in any meaningful way. Books, I might add, that the scriptwriters had time to read and be caught up on. So, that rankled a bit. Otherwise, good-but-flawed movie that ought to keep the kids happy enough.

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