Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


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"Praising Harry Potter as great literature is like praising Independence Day as great cinema."










Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The Masked Reviewer

Okay.  Let's clear up a few things.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a kid's movie.  It's based on a book for kids.  There are many grown-ups who read the "Harry Potter" novels and believe that they are great literature.  The Masked Reviewer, having flipped through the first book, is forced to conclude that the grown-ups who go on and on about Harry Potter as brilliant writing are people who don't read books. 

It is truly great that J.K. Rowling has found a way to get people of all ages interested in reading.  People line up at midnight on each book's release date, and fall over themselves to get a copy.  That's a beautiful thing.  Literature should have that effect on people.  And maybe kids will start to appreciate books and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But...if you're over the age of fifteen (and especially fully grown adults (and even more especially, fully grown adults who don't have kids)), you should know this: people will think it's weird and kind of creepy to hear you go on and on about how great Harry Potter is.  Be particularly mindful of people who actually read regularly.  Going up to your co-workers, who are all members of the book club, and saying "Hey I read a great book!  It's so totally awesome!  It's about this boy wizard and he goes to wizard school and all kinds of magical things happen.  The book is, like, several hundred pages and I read the whole thing!  You should check it out!" won't impress them.

Granted, those people are probably all in the Oprah book club.  So they don't have much of a leg to stand on, either. 

Keep in mind, the Masked Reviewer writes all of this, and he doesn't read.  The Masked Reviewer is practically illiterate. 

The source of contention is that Harry Potter isn't brilliant literature.  It's highly derivative of other fantasy books, yet people talk about it like it's ground breaking and Shakespearean in quality.  If you like Harry Potter, you really ought to keep reading.  There are genuinely good books out there.  Really.  Praising Harry Potter as great literature is like praising Independence Day as great cinema.  Can you enjoy it?  Sure.  Is it good?  No.  Although, Independence Day is a bit too mature for comparison.  Maybe a better example would be Shark Tale.  It's got Will Smith.  It's got Robert DeNiro.  There are computer graphics, like Toy Story.  But, it's empty and not very good.  It's no Finding Nemo

All that aside, if you like Harry Potter, you have every right.  People like "American Idol", after all...and Paris Hilton has a career.  So, good for you.

Given that you like the books, will you like the movie?  That's really the question, isn't it?

The Masked Reviewer isn't sure of the answer.  While the Masked Reviewer has seen a couple of the Harry Potter films, he hasn't seen all of them, and he hasn't read all the books.  The first thing that's noticeable is that the kids (Harry, Hermione, and Ron) have all sprouted up.  They look like college students.  They're growing like weeds.  They'd better pick up the production pace, or they'll need to re-title the next film Harry Potter and the Mystery of the Metamucil.  You won't believe the special effects.

If you haven't seen the other films, you might actually be lost at times.  There are characters brought back from other films, and while you'll understand the gist of things (it's clear who the bad guys are and who the good guys are, everything is black or white), you may think people are plopped in at random.  Other items, like Harry's back story, are referred to but not explained and can be a bit puzzling.

People who are rabid fans of the books were heard complaining that the film doesn't begin to capture the level of detail in the book.  That's the lesson for young people...the films never do justice to the book.  That's why books are good.  Oh wait a minute.  The Masked Reviewer is having a change of heart.  This site is built on the review of movies.  Not books.  Reading is bad!  Go out and see movies!

On the other hand, this site is writing about movies...a quandary!  What to do? 

Let's see...the plot is fairly straight forward.  There are a lot of characters, and some of the best actors (like Alan Rickman) are underused.  There are a couple of amusing bits, but not much in the way of humor.

Of particular note for parents: there are some scary scenes.  It seems a bit dark for young kids.  A kid dies (for good!) and lies there, staring up at the sky.  There's a body part that gets hacked off.  There are injuries.  And Ron says "piss off".  This isn't the cutesy-wutesy Harry Potter.  There are also girls and a dance.  No hardcore sex...but maybe that's coming in the next installment, Harry Potter and the Enchanted French Tickler.

The special effects are fine.  For a movie that relies so heavily on the effects, there's not much that's new or different, but then again, that's the major criticism of all the films.  The highlight has to be the cinematography.  They did an excellent job of blending the real world and fantasy world images, but the locations and swooping helicopter shots are impressive and almost worth the ticket price.

The worst part about the movie has to be the length.  It's about two-and-a-half hours long.  That's too long.  There isn't a lot of pointless fluff...there was just too much content to fit into a single movie. 

All in all, this seems like a movie geared to teens or pre-teens.  It might be too intense for some kids.  It'll also be a big hit with adults who read Harry Potter books, so they can talk disgustedly about how the book is so much better.  If you're going to brag to people about how the book was better, pick Pride and Prejudice -- Harry Potter won't impress people.  The best part of the movie is that somewhere, there will be a person who will go to see the movie and then pretend that they read the book, but they were too lazy.  Don't let it be you.

You can send your hate mail through the feedback button on the web site.  Yeah, the Masked Reviewer knows that a lot of the readers here are Harry Potter fans.  What, do you want the Masked Reviewer to pander to his audience?  Sometimes the truth hurts.  It's for your own good.  Reading Harry Potter does not make you an intellectual or a literature buff!  Reading the Masked Reviewer does.


Expectation from the Title: The chronicles of the hirsute clay-thrower, and his flaming chalice.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  The kids in this movie grow up so fast!  It seems just like yesterday they were scampering around, without a care in the world.

The Pros: Beautiful cinematography at times.  Great backgrounds.  One or maybe two laughs.  Acting was fine.

The Cons: It's just another fantasy movie.  Things move forward predictably.  It's LOOOOOONG.

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