I went ahead to watch the Friday Night show of "The Goblet of Fire". Expected it to be a visual treat of sorts. And it had some truly stunning moments. The mood was ominously dark in the beginning and the end. The slithering snake coming out of a stack of skulls - a grotesque image - in the very first scene has rightfully earned the movie a PG-13. Even the usually chiming "Harry Potter Theme" with cymbals and treble et al, has been transformed to a more haunting note. The graveyard/Riddle house opening sequence is on the lines of popular thriller flicks/shows like Jurassic Park or X-Files. The house-keeper gets a Avada Kedavra and we snap to Quidditch World Cup.
Next 15 minutes move really fast, sometimes jerkily and discordant. For that brief period, I was having a sinking feeling that the rest of the movie would be a fiasco. But, the director and editor have spared the 100 minutes to follow. We have a rushed sequence of going to Quidditch World Cup grounds, a view of the stadium and appearance of Death Eaters. This part is really weak; it hardly captures the lurking danger emphasized by the appearance of the Dark Mark.
Surprise. The plot takes a divergence from movie here. The role of Winky, the house-elf, has been purged off. And with that, the irritating-yet-useful, Dobby meets the same fate. Perhaps, we can be critical. But the volume of the book could not have been fixed in the movie otherwise.
Without much of an announcement (and somewhat ruefully in the spirit of teenage flicks), we are introduced to the French girls and Hungarian boys, Fleur and Krum. Mad-Eye makes an appearance simultaneously. Its a short sequence, probably done to justify the TriWizard Tournament. The challenges, as expected, have provided the directot to showcase some wonderful SFX. In his zeal to capitalize on the same, the dragon sequence has been overdone. No doubt it has been well-picturized, but we could have done more with "the Dark Side" of things than witnessing a reluctant Harry doing all the oomphs and aahs.
Rita skeeter serves as the perfunctory to-be-hated-comedian. The role has been well executed, but again, it takes up valuable minutes of screen time.
Ron's jealousy, Hermoine's anguish, Harry's drooling for Cho - all the twists which identify the leading characters' adolescence - have been dealt with reasonable justice. They also serve the comic platter (even Hagrid accosting Madam Maxime). Moaning Martyle gets more than her share of "peek-a-boo" at an all-wet-and-naked Harry. I wonder how did this scene get Rowling's approval and how do parents react to such explicit display.
The Yule Ball is a beautiful scene. If for nothing, at least for -
1) A stunningly beautiful Hermoine
2) Subcontinental influence in British society (Parvati and Padma Patil).
The underwater sequence with Merpeople is probably a better fare than the dragon fight. A message of sportsmanship is brought out when Harry receives extra points for a show of strength of character. Here again, the Gillyweed is supplied by Mad Eye himself rather than Dobby stealing it from Snape's cupboard.
There are two give-away scenes here and quite blatant too. Mad-eye providing the Gillyweed and then Mad-Eye confronting Barty Couch with a peculiar mannerism of tongue movement give away the suspense (if-any). I guess the director hasn't bothered much on that, especially as the story would be know to all the Potter fans.
The film goes back to the dark mood from the time the Maze challenge begins. Its all misty and grey; perhaps cold too (I was watching this at 0000hrs and the theatre's ACs were on song). Finally, the Portkey leads to the most awaited sequence. The Dark Lord rises.
Am I disappointed by the scene? In retrospect, I think not. But, my immediate reaction was, "It is happening too fast" (much to the contrary of the mood of my companion's "Sahi hai" take on that). Yet, Ralph Fiennes has delivered a powerful performance. Wormtail has appeared little too brave, Lucios Malfoy would have deserved a better charade (perhaps Darth Vader would have done that properly). What I missed - Voldemort should have had red eyes. What I liked - bald head, the serpent nostrils and the flowing black robes.
The film has two disappointing aspects - both in the same breadth. They are the character portrayal of Dumbledore and Voldemort. 2 powerful characters, they deserved a better appearance. They have way too much body movement, much more verbose than they should be, much less threatening than they actually are. Dumbledore is part of some unrequired humour (Filch firing cannons before the countdown and Madam Maxime dancing with Dumbledore). He appears so much shaken and unnecessarily grumpy to hear Harry's name come out of Goblet. Even the voices are so tawny. Voldemort gets dealt with same grace; the saving part is that he doesn't get any humour played on him.
My ratings for the movie - 3.0 out of 5.0. Had it been for a stronger and composed Dumbledore, some scenes could have done better.
Its a 3 hour affair. But, not long or tiring for ardent Potter fans. Let the magic continue.
P.S. : Where can I get Voldy's robes. Neo, Vader, Voldy... all get cool black get-ups!!!