A must read, if you don't already know ...

Written by Funn Lim


Released In : 2005

I saw Harry Potter 4 tonight and I will say visually, Mike Newell is not a cinematographer. Either it is my cinema or the movie is too dark in almost all scenes. Movie 3 remains as the most visually beautiful, movie 1 remains as the characters' most accurate depiction as per the books but movie 4 has the honours of some really very good acting. For once I see the tension and the fear in Harry's eyes. Voldermort's appearance in here, thanks to the brilliant performance of Ralph Feinnes showed to me how cruel, in a rather manic way and evil and scary and dangerous Voldermort is. When I read the book I thought the tasks were dangerous but this movie shows to you exactly how dangerous they are. Daniel Radcliffe gave what I would say is his best performance thus far, sometimes fearful, tense but most of all I see a bit of the real Harry Potter that the movies have never quite been able to show, his sarcastic side. The actor who plays Cedric Diggory is surprisingly very good and I ended up liking his Cedric. Matthew Lewis I think who plays Longbottom did very well too, and so did many of the older extras whose job here is to fill in spaces. The older actors had to give way to Michael Gambon who has a lot of scenes but I thought his Dumbledore did not have an ounce of grandfatherly concern for Potter. In fact when Harry's name was read out during the selection process, the first thing old man Dumbledore in here do was to rush at Harry and shook him very hard, demanding to know if Harry did indeed put his name into the goblet. That to me was so out of character. I dislike his performance which I believe is because the screenplay is badly adapted, again.

Ronald Weasley again has been sidestepped, making him into nothing but a jealous bumbling fool instead of the rather witty, sarcastic Ron we all know from the books. Rupert Grint didn't do too well, in part the character sucks but mostly he had very little to do.

Hermione again became the almost central figure which was annoying because she took the many scenes which should have been Ron's. Because SPEW was taken out, Hermione in here seems more than tense; she seems too serious that I miss the rather bookish, sometimes thoughtful and many times increasingly lenient Hermione. I failed to see the practical side of Hermione in all adaptations and it didn't help when the adapter sees fit to change certain key scenes like Moody's class where Hermione was rather emotional when being such a bookish type she wasn't. The hug of Harry came much too soon and the over emphasis of her appearance in the Yule Ball scene all made me detest how Hermione's character became rather melodramatic. And it should have been Ron who was in awe of Hermione's new image, NOT Harry. Is this movie suggesting a romance between Harry and Hermione? Because it looks like it and Ron in here simply didn't look like he carries a torch for Hermione. Performance wise, Emma Watson had a good character which is made bad because I kept thinking how junkasised her character was as compared to the book. I dislike her quite also because Ron's time was taken away to showcase her when this movie should showcase the rip in the solid friendship between Ron and Harry. That was dealt with like much too fast with no emotional attachment involved though it was funny. Emma Watson is a horribly inadequate actress. She cries much too much, seems much too upset and doesn't seem like the bookish Hermione I learn to love through the many books. I find her character changed too much and the actress who played her much too annoying.

Mad Eye Moody in here is quite neurotic but not good enough. Many liked Lupin because in the end he's the good guy. But for a teacher I thought Moody before we discover the real truth about him was a better and greater teacher. He showed the students great many knowledge that I thought such a pity he had to end up the way he was. Many praised Brendan Gleeson's performance. Quite frankly I hated it. First the way the character was adapted and secondly the performance itself. Doesn't get Moody right. You know who would be just perfect? Anthony Hopkins. Maybe he said no when offered.

Everybody else I shall not comment. Since the book is very thick, it is inevitable many scenes are cut and edited, as many would like to console hard core fans of this fact when their favourite scenes are gone. That I can understand. But many minute changes have been made to the movies that to me is rather drastic departure that somehow the essence of the book is gone. In every movie, a little essence is taken out, the worst was Movie 3 which bears very little resemblence to the essence of Book 3. Book 1 has the honours of being scene by scene but at least I sense the essence of the book there. As the adapter went deeper into the Potter series, he seems to kill off the important elements and leave us with the unnecessary ones and changing many.

This movie is also the same. SPEW is gone, so Hermione is not some rights fighting courageous lady who dares to stand up for others, although to great comic effect. There's no Ludo Bagman, which means the story of the Weasley Twins is taken out. Even the mention of the prize money for the winner of the tournament was curiously deleted and so we won't get to see how much more giving Harry was when he gave his money to the Weasley twins and insists that they use some of the money to buy Ron some new dress robes. It is a crucial scene. Some scenes are out of order. Some scenes are plain ridiculous like how the dragon escaped the iron cuffs holding it and chasing after Harry out of the stadium. How illogical that can be for Dumbledore to allow a student to go through such danger? I mean danger yes but the whole dragon flew away after Harry and I was thinking Dumbledore didn't seem concerned at all. The whole dragon vs Harry scene could have been shortened or at least made intelligently so that some precious minutes could be given to Ron or everybody else. Dobby is also missing in here, and so the one who gave the gillyweed to Harry is Neville but I quite like that change because it gives substance to Neville's character. And I dislike how Hermione is smiling after Krum when really she didn't quite care for him as finds the attention towards him by other girls silly. There are many more gripes about the characters changes.

As for some good scenes, I thought the bottom of the lake was pretty eerie as Hermione, Ron, Cho and Fleur's sister hanging in the water was really scary. Looked like dolls to me.

The one character that I quite like was surprisingly Cho Chang. I may complain about how not to pretty Katie Leung is but I must admit, her big eyes, sweet smile and cute Scottish accent made me quite like her. Performance wise, she had little to do but she was ok.

The World Cup scene was beautiful, exciting but unfortunately cut just when I thought it could begin. Much too soon. The two major complains I have is the missing muggle at the World Cup camping tent. That muggle is crucial because the Death Eaters did torture him in a way and because of so many things cut, the elf, I can't remember her name was also cut which I feel is crucial to the story. The second element is how Harry is so very concerned of telling Sirius of his scar that hurts. He didn't want Sirius to risk his life coming back for him and to take out that scene is taking out the close bond between Harry and Sirius and how he at first perceived himself a bit useless for complaining about the pain of his scar. Dumbledore seems to have changed totally, to a Dumbledore I don't quite recognise because I can't see a regal, respectable and a very concerned Dumbledore. For me Peter O'Toole could be Dumbledore but of course how I wish Ian McKellan would have said yes. The entire emphasis the adapter and director seems to favour is the tournament when I would wish for once they favour the characters themselves. JK Rowling doesn't insert a character for no particular reason and to take away some characters would inevitably create plot holes in the next Harry Potter movie.

One major weird scene was McGonagall teaching the students about dancing. Rather out of character don't you think? She seems more motherly than Dumbledore himself! And the Yule Ball scene itself reminds me of prom night. No complaints, very funny scene.

However, all in all despite the many missing crucial scenes and characters and some really horrible interpretation of certain characters (top of my list is Dumbledore, next is Hermione, then Ron), this movie remains the best of the 4 quite simply because first, it is the least worst in many sense and it boasts some very fine performances. Believe me, Ralph Fiennes alone is worth the ticket price though he appeared for max 8 min. And Daniel Radcliffe is another reason to watch this movie. To see him getting a bit better in each film culminating into this good performance to me is like watching my own son growing up though I am much too young to be his mom. Secondly because it is more realistically grounded. This is due to the lack of magical cinematography, the entire feel of it which made it more like any exclusive schools that you have been to before. But this is also dangerous because what is great about Hogwarts is the fact that it is magical. I don't quite see that in here. The emphasise is not on the set.

All in all, a must watch but if you've read the book and loved it, be prepared for some major disappointment. To me it is not the scenes but the characters that disappointed me. If you haven't read the book, do consider reading it. It is not the best in the series (Book 6 is the worst followed by Book 5, Book 2, Book 4, Book 1, Book 3-plot wise) but it is a million times better than what's on screen. I finally understood why JK Rowling allowed such liberty in changing her stories because it ultimately makes her books look really good.

I am excited that Book 5 is being adapted by someone else. I hope this someone else truly understands the book and adapt it in such a way that won't kill its essence.

By the way the triwizard cup looks very beautiful and the posters amazing.

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