Joined: 23 November 2004
Greetings from Chicago! Some of you may have heard of a special blind test screening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that was to be shown at Piper's Alley on Saturday July 9th in Chicago. I'm proud to say that it's true and I was one of the lucky audience members! In fact, we were the first in line at 4pm for the 6pm showing. There was a 2pm screening for young children, and we saw them happily exiting right before we were allowed to start our way up.
Security was tight. Before entering the theater, guards searched everyone and confiscated any cameras, recording devices, and cell phones with camera technology. The security guards then had us put our hands up in the air and waved us down with their own magic wands to detect any hidden objects. I beeped, they felt through my pocket to find keys and coins, and then I was let in!
The back three rows were taped off for VIP's, so naturally we sat right in front of them in order to eavesdrop. The theater filled up with people, and then a man began to speak from the front of the theater. He introduced the title of the film, and the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. Everyone was so pleased to hear that we would be among the first to view the newest Harry Potter film!
I have to say that this is my favorite HP film to date. Although the special effects were not complete, they were adequate. It was a little funny seeing Lord Voldemort with tiny blue and green dots on his shaved head in one shot transform to the grotesque LV in other shots where the CGI was already in place. There were many of these types of color markers throughout the film in order to lead the animation team on their journey. The lighting, sound, and picture was not in a finished state, and we were prepared by the announcement beforehand to expect it to be rough around the edges.
Of course, the film can not follow the book very closely. The main subjects to make it to the screen are Quidditch World Cup, Yule Ball, Tri-Wizard Tourneament, Moody, Rita Skeeter, Voldemort's return, Harry's visions, Ron and Harry's fight, boys and girls developing crushes on each-other, Barty Crouch's family legacy. The film is quite a good length and would have been too long had they approached every subject the book deals with.
Ok, so on with the film! If you would not like to hear the ins and outs of the movie, now is the time to stop reading. Still there? I though you would be! The Dursley's are not in the film. The beginning is a terrifying scene at the Riddle House where the gardener discovers Lord V' and his two henchmen. Harry awakens from the vision when Hermoine calls for him to get ready to go to the World Cup. They all leave the Burrow and encounter the Diggorys at the portkey. The camp is huge and very cool. The stadium is awesome, however, we saw introductions and cheering but no quidditch what-so-ever. Flash to the camp where the Death Eaters are attacking and burning the camp to the ground. They are much more terrifying on film that I thought they would be. Everyone runs, Harry gets knocked out during the frenzy. He wakes up alone and sees a man using his wand to cast the dark mark. No Winky and no mention of SPEW or house elves in the film.
On to Hogwarts. Dumbledore introduces the other schools. The champions put their names in, Fred and George have a very funny scene. Dumbledore announces the champions. The teachers freak out on Harry, and Rita Skeeter takes some jabs at Harry during a closet interview. Everyone in the school is wearing POTTER STINKS badges and Ron turns against him and they have some heated exchanges. Poor Hermoine is forced to play the go-between, and this leads to comedic genius. Moody does his lesson on the unforgivable curses, much to the displeasure of Hermoine and Neville. Moody is just as I imagined he would look, and his acting is gold. You almost forget about his polyjuice potion drinking habit and believe him to be a drunk as the students do for sipping on his flask all the time.
The first task of the competition is amazing. It is very well produced. Professor McGonagall gives the students a firm speech about the yule ball and it's importance for social reasons and then gives a dance lesson using one of the students as her partner. Ron and Harry have made up at this point, and they have an awful time finding dates as all the girls are chasing around Victor and Cedric. Cho Chang is brilliant, she speaks with a heavy accent and is very pretty. Ron is in total denial that Hermoine has a date to the ball, and she is beautiful when she arrives. Victor and Hermoine hit it off, Ron becomes very jealous, and Hermoine ends up yelling at him. You really see the sparks fly between them in this scene. The only person to really enjoy himself is Neville, who comes home very late after dancing the night away with Ginny.
Before the second task, Harry finds that Moaning Myrtle is a very helpful gal... she get's fresh with him while he is in the tub and it is one of the funniest scenes. The second task is wonderful and tense, and the third is very troubling and dark. When Harry and Cedric make it to the Cup, they are warped to the graveyard where we watch Cedric die. Wormtail performs the process to give Lord V' his proper form, it's very disturbing. Voldemort then unmasks a few Death Eaters and challenges Harry to a duel. Harry get's a little help from some ghosts in order to escape with Cedric. When he returns to the competition, emotions run very deep as Cedric's father races to his son. Moody takes Harry away sympathetically, and all the answers come out in the end. Dumbledore announces to the entire school the details surrounding Cedric's death, and the film wraps up.
The new additions to the cast are perfect. The film has a quick pace and keeps your attention throughout. Actors really have gotten down their roles and play them very comfortably. Ron is full of great lines and expressions. Harry and Dumbledore have a few intense exchanges. Fred and George are a riot and have loads of great scenes. Rita Skeeter is awesome. Madame Maxine and Hagrid have funny moments together.
Many of the characters are left without time for their stories, however, and you miss seeing more of them. Snape is always around, but he has very few lines. You really start to see Neville develop his confidence and talent in the few scenes he is in. Ginny is only around a little. Sirius only has that one scene where his face is made of hot coals in the fireplace. No Professor Trelawney, Sprout, Nearly Headless Nick, Peaves, but this might change in the final cut. Most of the film was action and thin dialogue, but this is not a bad thing because it works.
I believe that audiences will absolutely love the new approach to Potter. It's fun, fast, fresh, and familiar. I would not suggest that small children be taken to the film, it would be too scary for the very young. It's mostly a harmless, fun movie, however the violence exists and parents should know there is more blood and terror in this film than in the others. Again, I loved it and I believe this will be a film that you crave to see again and again. I can hardly wait until it is released later this year!
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