The U-Bend #35: Reading This Review Takes Longer Than a Scene in the Movie (Goblet of Fire Movie Review)

by Andrew Lee and Robert Lanto

“Oh, I — I reckon I’ve got a pretty good idea what it’s about now.”
-Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

What a difference a year makes. Last year we were complaining about shrunken heads, missing plotlines and uh…did we say shrunken heads? This time around, we’ve got a lot more praise for “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Ranking at a massive 2 hours and 37 minutes (not including all those ads for cars, chocolate bars and inferior movies) the film is LONG (but the good sort of long). But Steve Kloves did the best he could by using the source material and mixing in his own brand of humor (Snape takes action if someone isn’t working in his class!). The acting has improved a lot, they try to make the best use of the cast (which is getting quite large now) and the special effects are on par with the rest of the films (except the whole underwater attack scene, that looked, uh…odd). But there are a few points on which we’d like to concentrate.

Firstly, the pacing. As everyone knows, the book nearly tripled in size when compared to the last one. While it did feature a few filler scenes, there was a lot of stuff going on and we knew that not all of it was going to make the cut. For example, the first half hour of the movie pretty much goes:

Groundskeeper Frank: Dang kids! Oh, I’m dead!
Harry: Hi Hermione, Hi Ron, Hi Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Hi Ginny, Hi Fred, Hi George, Hi Amos, Hi Cedric, Hi Quidditch Cup, Grrr Malfoy, Grrr Lucius, Hi Fudge, Woot Viktor, AHH Death Eaters, AHH Evil Man (aka. Barty Crouch Jr.), Duck and Cover!, Hi Trolley Lady, Hi Cho (who I suddenly like), Hi Hogwarts, Hi Dumbledore, Hi Filch, Hi Hagrid, Hi McGonagall, Hi Beaubaxtons, Hi Durmstrangs, Hi Mad-Eye Moody, Hi Barty Crouch Sr., and finally, Hi Goblet of Fire!

We probably forgot someone in that list but you get the idea. The movie’s largest fault is that some scenes go very quickly…actually most of them go too quickly.

In terms of additions there weren’t too many. The references to the past films were nice. Especially the throw away lines like Seamus talking about exploding things. The dragon fight was nice (we understood why they extended it, though it didn’t need to be), but for us there was no harm done. In the Mr. Cannon vs. the shrunken head category of useless additions there is a fundamental difference between the two. Mr. Cannon has better comedic timing. What do you think Mr. Cannon? Mr. Cannon says, “BOOM!”

The acting was good. The main stars have improved a lot since that first film some four years ago. Their delivery and feeling placed in the dialogue is a lot better and less flat. The adults continue to show solid performances, even though some were underutilized. Snape tends to rotate from important to background character, and unfortunately in this film it’s back to a supporting role. Dumbledore’s screen time was significantly increased and we were pleased that Michael Gambon stepped up to the challenge.

The music was a mixed bag. The soundtrack is good, nothing spectacular, but it’s no worse than the “Chamber of Secrets” soundtrack (can anyone say recycled?). There are a few stand out pieces like the Hogwarts Band playing their strange toon or the Wyrd/Weird Sisters and their non-classical tune which were nice changes of pace. The inclusion of the Hogwarts School Song was an interesting touch since it’s been missing in action for three movies. The special effects were equally impressive, the underwater scenes could have been better, but the special effects team continues to excel with the flying sequences. Continuing to rely on Hogwarts 2.0 (the one with the wooden bridge) drives us continuity freaks insane (why did the Willow move?!), but you can’t have it all.

What we’re saying is you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Last year they didn’t keep to the book, and we complained. This year they did, and they included almost all the little things that J.K. included, but that meant that, as Robert said, “if you can’t count down the time to the next scene using both your hands, then that scene is too long.”

So where is the happy medium? Where can Potter fans finally have the complete whole story? The DVD! Rather than putting it in a cheap-ola box and throwing in some stuff to fill the DVD, do what the “Lord of the Rings” did and release a DVD with hours and hours and hours of extra material (and most of it wasn’t footage of characters walking across New Zealand). That’s the only way to find the balance. The movie couldn’t have been that much longer (but we would have stayed). At least with the DVD, there is, as Andrew says, the power to “spin on” through the boring parts.