The Goblet of Fire

Watched the new movie on the big screen. One of the biggest screens available – that’s right, the IMAX. The size of the screen, sadly, did not improve the movie any. Yes, I am going to be a curmudgeon about this.

The Goblet is my favorite Potter book, bar none. It’s the reason I have stuck with the series. Given all that baggage, I suppose I was begging for a disappointment. But thanks to Peter Jackson, I’ve developed a glimmer of hope for almost any movie made from a book. If someone can make LOTR work, and work so beautifully, surely, there is more to Hollywood than I usually give it credit for.

Mike Newell is no Jackson. Sadly, he’s not even Alfonso Cuaron. Most of my Potter-mad friends didn’t much care for Prisoner of Azkaban, the movie. They do however, seem to like Goblet. I am afraid the reverse is true for me. Cuaron captured darkening mood more successfully than did Newell, although there is a heck of lot more darkness in Goblet. Yes, yes, Ralph Fiennes was pure evil, Cedric Diggory was heart-breakingly handsome, and Mad-Eye Moody was, well, mad. But these did not make up for a complete and utter lack of quidditch, (in a story featuring the World Quidditch Championships), no dementors, practically no magic (spells were limited to Accio FireBrand), and only ordinary looking Vila…Michael Gambon is a lousy Dumbledore. Gambon has taken away the dignity Richard Harris so easily infused into the character. Harris had a twinkle in his eye – Gambon spends his time screaming or holding up his robes, indeed most of the time, he’s doing both. What a nifty feat for the greatest wizard of all time!

Over lunch, a colleague and I listed all the stuff that was in the book, but not in the movie. But we had to conclude that all the scenes that were really important were not overlooked. The most important thing at the World Quidditch Championships is the appearance of the dark mark. The Yule Ball provides an opportunity for some light hearted romance in an otherwise dark and depressing tale. The key-take away from the Triwizard Competition is that Voldemort appears, Harry wins and Cedric dies.

Given two movies that aren’t completely faithful to the books, I’ve thought hard about why I liked Prisoner of Azkaban so much and Goblet of Fire not at all. I can only say this – Azkaban captured the mood of the book brilliantly. To show flowers withering away when dementors fly by is practically poetic. Even the portraits in Goblet don’t move! Goblet feels like a McKinsey synopsis of the book, neatly summarizing the three key take-aways, with a couple of fun facts thrown in to please the crowd, but hey, it’s all about ‘what’s important’. When you’re summarizing a 250 page analyst report, that’s exactly what you want. But not when you’re translating a tale of wondrous magic and adventure into a movie. And that is what the problem is with the Goblet of Fire – it has all of the important facts, but none of the soul.

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5 comments so far

  1. Manoj on

    I was looking forward to my HP@IMAX tomorrow, hoping it’d be as dark&yummy as Azkaban. Now I’m konjam skeptical. But I’m glad there won’t be any Quidditch. Somehow for me, aerial broomfare ceased being exciting after 2 mins in the first Potter movie. 🙂

  2. DoZ on

    Not like Quidditch? Quelle horreure! That’s the ONLY sport I can summon up a modicum of interest in… Anyway, tell me what you thought of the Vila. Would like a second opinion, and yeah, everything else, too.

  3. prashanth narayanan on

    my opinions exactly! i caught the sneak preview a day earlier and posted the very next day on my blog:
    http://prash.wordpress.com/2005/11/18/14/
    my favorite has always been book 3 (book and movie).
    hope the next is better!

  4. The soliloquist on

    ditto here… liked HP3 more than the goblet.. Thght the bias stemmed frm hp3 being my first Potter book..
    Me n my frnd too had a day long discussion on wht had been left out.. But finally we ended up concluding potter aint movie stuff inspite all the drama and the brou-haha.. A tv series would probably do justice to Rowlings creation ..and vindicate the yearning of the book readers and enthuse the new entrant to the world of potter to take up reading the book… In such stories, its the attention to detail that weaves the magic..rather than the storyline as such.. what say, DoZ?

  5. DoZ on

    Soliloquist – a TV series is a brilliant idea! I wish I’d thought of it. It would practically be never ending, if they made a 30 minute episode for every chapter. Precedence (Pride & Prejudice) indicates that a TV show could really work. I suppose there’s not enough money in it for the studios – who ever heard of action figures for a TV show? But why can’t they make a start with this one, I don’t know…–>


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