Sunday, December 04, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

This was inevitable, I guess; the distillation process that leads a 800-page book to be rendered into cinematic format -- even a two-and-a-half-hour version -- must, by nature, destroy the work in question. Some films find their way around the roadblocks and end up as compelling cinema anyway; this, though, is not one of those films. For about 45 minutes, it's a complete disaster, with new characters and subplots introduced at such a breathless pace that everything blurs together into one multicolored blob of FX-addled celluloid. Mike Newell is generally a talented man, but frenetic activity is not his forte (for proof, see the misfired Pushing Tin), and he seems lost in trying to corral all this immensity into a workable format. He does manage to get things vaguely under control later in the film, and the puberty-onset sections -- all the bits, in other words, where Newell gets to focus on character rather than spectacle -- of the film are pretty great. Most people will single out the lavish (and entertainingly awkward) ballroom centerpiece, but for me the film's high point, undoubtedly, is Harry's creepy-funny encounter with Moaning Myrtle in a bubble bath. So it's a shame when, after the ball, we have to get back to the drudgery of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. I'm sure, though, that Potter fanatics will get far more out of this than I did. In other news: Brendan Gleeson is still ineffably awesome (his every scene is nigh well indispensible), and Emma Watson is encroaching upon hotness.

Grade: C+


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