Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

Colin:

I’m mixed on this one. You can see them starting to really gloss over major plot points from the books, while retaining others that, when put into a compressed film context tend to make the story a lot more obvious than it should be. Mike pointed this out several times. It’s like someone telling a joke that requires a lot of set up and going, “Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you that the guy only has one ball. Remember that.” And you’re thinking, great, I’m sure this punchline is really going to catch me unaware.

In terms of the CGI and the overall visual effects, it’s so much better than the first two films, and noticeably better than Prisoner of Azkaban as well. And I like that the action and seriousness of the content has risen. We’ve had three books before this, and there will be three after; appropriately, we’re at the halfway point where there’s murder but also some intense anxiety over asking girls. You be the judge of which took center stage.

In terms of story, Rowling’s just getting herself in deeper with every step. I think I’ve said this before, but the majority of the problems I have with this series are small or medium sized. Lots of Deus ex Machina going on, and more things that aren’t necessarily on that level but are also just fed to us as things that serve a purpose, without explaining how or why. 

I’m kind of sick of things showing up arbitrarily at some point and then coming back later. Why did we have to meet Cedric at the beginning? All we see is that he knows how to jog out of the sky like an asshole when using a portkey (though he sure fucks it up the last time we see him use one, am I right?) and that he has a dad. We should have already known this character before this book/film, but if that was impossible, they should have just put him into the mix when the tournament is announced, and then we get to see him and Harry sort of sizing each other up. It’s more interesting that way. They’ve written larger things into and out of these screenplays. 

I liked it, but not as much as I liked the book. This is one of the books I liked being turned into a so-so movie. Order of the Phoenix, on the other hand, was a book I hated that was turned into a halfway decent move. So look forward to that, I guess. But the takeaway here is that puberty’s on, so saddle up for some innuendo.

My Final Thoughts:

I’m also torn on this one. The book is entertaining as hell, and there’s a lot of stuff here, but they really had a job to do with cutting it down into a movie. I think they did a pretty good job of streamlining it into a coherent movie, but there were still a lot of gaps between stuff. I mean, they completely cut Rita Skeeter out of the movie out of nowhere. She just never comes back at all. How do you do that? She’s incredible. They just completely cauterize her plot and toss it out. We don’t see her continuing to do what she does, we don’t see her get her comeuppance, meanwhile she’s the most entertaining character in the movie.

And then they spend too much time on unnecessary shit, like Ron and Harry “fighting” or whatever that was, as opposed to more human moments, like whatever is going on between Krum and Hermione and Harry and Ron’s feelings about that. Not to mention the fact that Hermione is clearly the most developed character in the entire franchise, emotionally, and they never give her enough moments to show that. They’d rather spend time with boring stuff like Ron having a little first year to do shit for him. It’s completely bizarre.

Plus — and this is a drum I beat a lot — no SPEW. There were more than a few moments in this that could have been cut out in favor of some of that. But I get it. I get why it’s not there. But still — maybe you could bring it up a little bit, since we love Dobby. But as it is, we don’t see Dobby again until we need him to come back and get murdered. It’s pretty dumb that you don’t give him a small moment to keep him in people’s memories until that point.

And then the Quidditch World Cup — completely cut out. It just feels like a movie that was cut from a more coherent story. Which, it kind of is, since it’s like a 750 page page book or something like that. But I just felt they could have, in the entire running time, done a little bit more to flesh out the more interesting areas of the book, since there’s so much stuff in this movie that is mentioned but never developed.

How about the fact that Harry is the most hated motherfucker in this school for most of this tournament? “Potter Stinks”? It gets like one mention, and it’s mostly Slytherins who are wearing them. (Or people we’ve never met before publicly, rendering the whole thing pointless.) They don’t help themselves by showing people cheering for Harry either. There’s a lot of stuff like this. Underdeveloped and then cast aside to rush into some other plot points, and even blatantly contradicted by other visuals in the film..

Let’s not mention the whole, “Hermione got hot” moment, which really should create a crisis of conscience for Harry and Ron, where they realize how much for granted they’ve taken this girl and also go, “Damn… she’s actually pretty good looking.” But no… just a brief glance, mostly for our sake, and then it becomes a punchline for a second, and an emotional moment for Hermione alone. It’s shit like that which makes me furious at  the amount of missed opportunities in the film.

A lot of people call this their favorite book — I’m not quite there. I like the book. But I wouldn’t rush to call it my favorite. But the movie… I don’t know. I can watch it easily enough, but I’d put on at least three other movies before I put on this. This, to me, is mid-range, right around where Sorcerer’s Stone is. I still say the top three movies are Azkaban, Deathly Hallows 2 and Order of the Phoenix. And then Deathly Hallows 1, this, and Sorcerer’s Stone are in that middle ground area. And the other two, Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince (outside of the cinematography there) are bringing up the rear.

So I don’t know. I like the movie, but it just feels disjointed to me, in terms of ranking it among other members of the franchise. Not that I really give a fuck. I don’t judge these movies as harshly as I judge other franchises, since I can watch any one of these movies at any given time and it wouldn’t be a problem. Its like Bond. I only really get picky when I’m comparing them to each other.

That said… it’s kind of a middle ground movie made from an above average book. They cut too much stuff out and rush into too much stuff for me to truly love this movie the way I should. The later ones are much better developed, character-wise, and Azkaban is still the high water mark of tone for the franchise. This has flashes of greatness, but they had too much plot and not enough focus to follow through on this one for me to call it a top tier franchise movie.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we begin Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is a movie that’s way better than it has any right to be, given how pointless that entire book is.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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