It’s very rare that I remember novels as much as film adaptations, particularly because most of the novels I have ever read are full of text, with the exception of Roald Dahl’s material which includes pictures as well. I remember them so well. Who doesn’t? On this rare occasion, Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire is one of them stories, which I preferred the novel version of; the movie version disappointed me. Why? Let’s find out!
Spoilers are highlighted in red.
A so-called Tri-wizard tournament takes place, meaning that three enchanted schools, including Hogwarts, enter a world sports competition between each other. One senior year student from each school is selected to compete. But on the night of the selection, the Goblet of Fire (a device which randomly selects the students) spews out one extra competitor; Harry Potter, who is in his fourth year and too young to compete. This of course causes some controversy among Hogwarts, but because the magic can’t be reversed, Harry bravely goes for the difficult activities. Soon, we learn that the tournament has turned into a trap.
I had watched the first three Harry Potter films at the cinema. However, I did not see Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire until Easter day the following year, when one of my cousins-once-removed introduced us to the film via DVD, while we were visiting relatives. The reason was because I didn’t enjoy The Prisoner Of Azkaban, when it first came out. Moments before we saw The Goblet Of Fire, I thought maybe it would be an improvement to the previous film. I remembered the awesome bits the book had, despite the picture absence. But after one viewing, my heart sank. The film version missed out all the great bits from the book. I was so disappointed.
Before I start moaning about the film, let’s explore the good stuff. Firstly, I most certainly give credit to the character of Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, the ex-auror and newly appointed Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher. His introduction to the class is incredible. He addresses himself, even by his first name. That’s very different for a teacher, not only in fiction, but in general. I remember when I was at school, most teachers addressed themselves by their titles during their introductions to the classes, well except one time during a maths lesson when we had a substitute teacher who stated “my name is Matthew”. That’s so rare for a school teacher. Another thing great about Moody’s introduction is his reason for coming to the school; “I’m here, because Dumbledore asked me to, end of story, goodbye, the end!” Who in the world could possibly not crack a smile to that? And he even addressed Dumbledore only by surname in front of the kids. Another great thing about Moody is his rebellious attitude; “The Ministry says you are too young to see what these curses do. I say different! You need to know what you’re up against”, I’d say he’d make a great John Keating, and I love the way he punishes Malfoy for taunting Harry, then gets told off by McGonagall and after she leaves, notice how he sticks his tongue out in her direction. Despite his plain moody personality, Moody does have a sympathetic side towards the kids. However, he does have a dark side. It is soon revealed that Moody is an impostor, and is actually Barty Crouch Jr. wearing a disguise, who has locked the real Moody up. Did I mention how incredible Moody’s appearance is, especially his robotic eye?
To tell you the truth, I would’ve liked to see more of Igor Karkaroff, the principal of one of the competing schools and apparent death eater. The confrontations he has with Snape are really interesting and it demonstrates one of the things Snape does best; conflict with the other staff, even pouring the Veritaserum potion in Moody’s mouth seems to be his pleasure. The only trouble is, there are very few of those confrontations and none of them connect to any other parts of a rather long film, apart from his moving tattoo which relates to the polyjuice potion and Barty Crouch Jr.. With that said, there’s an amusing scene where Harry catches Snape and Karkaroff arguing in the parking lot, while the school disco is taking place; Snape and Karkaroff catch two students supposedly having sex in a caravan and Snape announces “ten points from Hufflepuff, Fawcett, and the same from Ravenclaw, Stebbins”, which demonstrates how sense-smart Snape is. Such a shame that scene had to be deleted. Plus I thought Karkaroff was more developed and had a larger part in the novel.
Speaking of the novel, Moody’s scenes and Snape and Karkaroff’s fights ain’t enough to save a bad film. Here’s what I don’t like about the film; it misses out a lot of the great bits included in the novel. During the first few chapters, Harry is writing a conversational letter to his godfather Sirius Black. He even writes about how badly his cousin, Dudley’s, diet is going and that following a confrontation with Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia in regards to pocket money, Dudley angrily threw his Play Station out of the window. This bit cracks me up. The film should’ve included a scene with Harry writing the letter out loud and clips to go with the words, including Dudley throwing his games console out of the window. As for the Dursleys, they’re in the book, but they ain’t even in the film! After we see Frank getting killed by one of Voldemort’s henchmen, it cuts straight to Harry spending time with the Weasleys and Hermione and being harassed and mothered by Hermione. The novel showed how Harry got their in the first place, via the fireplace. Plus there was a struggle at first, due to the fact that the Dursleys’ fireplace was electric. That was great! Later on, we see Peeves playing his obnoxious pranks on the students and getting a telling off from Professor McGonagall. Again, not included. In fact, I’ve never seen Peeves in any of the movies. He originally was supposed to be in the first movie and portrayed by Rik Mayall, of The Young Ones/Bottom/The New Statesman fame, some of the most awesome things I ever saw on the screen. But they had to delete them scenes. Tut, tut. Oh and did I mention Hermione forming a democratic society for the house elves? Again, what the film tragically missed out. And where in the name of bladdy ‘ell was Colin Creevey, the one who gets killed off in the book?
Apart from the overlooked pros of the novel, the film faces plenty more problems. Certain plot-lines and character portrayals for one thing. Dumbledore, for instance, is pretty much at his worst. He is supposed to be the Merlin The Magician of the series, but in this film, he’s way too gruff and aggressive. At one point, when he interrogates Harry after Harry’s name was selected through the Goblet, did you see the way he points his wand at Harry and hear how full of rage he sounds when he speaks? So not like Dumbledore, especially not when he was portrayed by Richard Harris in the first two films. Geez, Mike Newell, if you wanted to toughen him up, at least research Merlin from The Sword In The Stone! An another thing, Dumbledore sets up them tasks for Harry to take on, even half-drowning some of the students and relying on Harry to rescue them. I know the series is meant to be dark considering how much of the recurring theme, i.e. death, is involved, but this is really disturbing!
And Ron Weasley ain’t exactly at his best either. Well, he acts fine during the Quidditch world cup, but following the news that Harry has become a fourth competitor for the Triwizard tournament, he acts like a complete jerk. For instance, in one scene, Harry tells Ron “You’re being stupid”, which is well put, and Ron’s like “Yeah, that’s me. Ron Weasley, Harry Potter’s stupid friend!”. You can just about replace the dialogue with how the Nostalgia Critic described Robin’s dialogue in Batman & Robin; “Nyeh eh nyeh!” In fact, that is like the same with many of the other arguments the three main protagonists have, throughout.
There’s one more thing I ought to mention; The Goblet Of Fire signalled the first-ish appearance of Lord Voldemort, Harry’s arch-nemesis. I say ‘ish’, because technically, he was in The Philosopher’s Stone, but through flashback and faceless, then inside Professor Quirrell’s body, then we saw him as a ‘memory’ in The Chamber Of Secrets. The Goblet Of Fire deserves some credit for introducing Voldemort in full character, but I have a few flaws with the character. Firstly, when we saw him in The Philosopher’s Stone, this is how he looked;
Blimey, look at that! And I reckon that scar symbolises his attempted murder of Harry. He most certainly looks plain sinister and evil, sort of like Mr Burns from The Simpsons. That look is plenty to give kids nightmares. Plus his voice was so snake-like. How do we compare this to Voldemort’s appearance in The Goblet Of Fire?
Erm…, okay…? He has the aggressive fighting ability which is a great sign. But this is a guy who can communicate with snakes and the appearance he had in the first film was more snaky. Here, he looks more like a skeleton with skin or some character out of a live-action film version of a Dr. Seuss story. I do give credit that Ralph Fiennes went with the Dustin Hoffman style of acting, that one would hardly recognise the actor much as the character, of course you can almost tell that this is the same guy who played Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List by looking at his mouth. But Voldemort looks and sounds more like a character who was portrayed by Mike Myers. Don’t believe me? Ever seen Cat In The Hat? I only saw a bit of it. But then, his nose looks way too peculiar, like he’s had some sort of operation on it. And do I need to repeat the comparison between his and the Dr.Seuss characters’ characteristics; hence the residents of Who-Ville and their noses?
Rip-offs; well there’s not many really. The finale in the maze does remind me a bit of Labyrinth and The Shining both put together. The band scene is quite creative, though it reminds me of the band played by the B-52s in that Flintstones movie. Of course there ain’t no stone age setting in this film. As for the World Cup scene, there’s a shot of stars in the sky forming an Irish mascot. I’m sure I saw something like that elsewhere, but I can’t think where. Apart from that, nothing much to point out.
So for all my b**ching and moaning, this film feels like the worst film, sort of like the Superman IV of the Harry Potter movies. Let me make clear that I only saw the first three Superman mainstream films, so I can’t say what the fourth one’s like, but some of my friends have seen it and they hated it. Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire doesn’t do much for me. It’s too disturbing, it’s boring, and the biggest crime is that it overlooks the great things the novel had. It makes me feel that I need to pick up the novel again.
Favourite scene; Moody’s introduction. I’ve mentioned a lot about that scene earlier on; how he introduces himself, his reasons for teaching and his rebellious persona on the other teachers. His quotes are quite inspirational; “You need to know what you’re up against. You need to be prepared…”. I also love how he manages to catch Seamus out even with his back turned; “You need to find another place to put your chewing gum besides the underside of your desk, Mr. Finnegan!”. He can also be quite violent; when Seamus whispers; “No way, the old codger can see out of the back of his head!”, Moody throws a piece of chalk at him and shouts; “And hear across classrooms”. Tell me this scene ain’t badass.
Overall rating: 2/10
Next review: Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix