Sunday, January 11, 2009

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (3rd best)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the 4th film of the series, and the 3rd best by my count) straddles the halfway mark between the mediocre family pandering of the franchise's first two efforts and the emotional and cinematic achievements of the 3rd and 5th films. Goblet functions best as an action flick; in fact, had the film simply stuck to this premise, instead of attempting to tie the TriWizard tasks together with some of the series' most stupendously horrendous melodrama (OMG, prom), it might have earned a higher ranking.

I think we can all recognize the daunting challenge of adapting Rowling's Goblet for the screen. One of the longest books of the series, it's filled with enough themes and subplots for a 10 episode miniseries. Something had to give, and for better or worse, they dropped S.P.E.W., Rita Skeeter's animagus mischief, and Ron's awareness and shame of his family's poverty. My friend Adam has argued to me that this eliminates the central theme of the book: injustice. I agree it's a theme, but considering Rowling's use of Hermione's liberal overzealousness as comic relief, and the less-than-prominent attention paid to Ron's plight of poverty (just one among many), I'd argue that if something had to give, these were some of the least essential. Besides, what masochist craves Dobby's reprise?

The only authentically engrossing moments of the film occur during Voldemort's resurrection. Diggery's death and his father's painful cries tap into some of the book's emotions, while Voldemort's rebirth and the aftermath with his remaining Death Eaters are at the very least spooky.

5. Chamber of Secrets
4. Sorcerer's Stone
3. Goblet of Fire

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