Book 4 has always been my favourite. It has more actions with a twinge of emotion in it. It also, for the first time, gave a glimpse to the readers of how big the wizardry world really is. Kids all over the world suddenly felt that the magic was not limited to the boundaries of the western world anymore. Oh, if you still don't get it, I do love the Harry Potter series and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
Style-wise, Rowling does not offer anything new or great that's worth being studied years from now. It's strength lies in the story. The idea that a lone kid suddenly discovered that he has hidden talents is nothing new. But the story and characters that unfolds around him are pretty interesting. What I like most about the series is how one small detail mentioned in earlier book would suddenly become significant in later books. Spells and potions are not made up just to get the plot going. The same spell would appear time and time again under different circumstances. Readers are taken a tour through Harry Potter's eyes who, like the readers, are oblivious to the amazing world of magic. When he learn new things, we learn new things, when he met a new creature, he was as surprised and excited as we are which I think is why the books appeal to kids so much.
I find it interesting that when HP was adapted to the big screen, most of the time the characters, creatures and plots didn't suffer much changes in the transition. Which shows that the story works both on the page and on the screen.
I managed to watch the movie on the second day of opening at GSC Berjaya Times Square. I'm not so important as to get hold tickets for previews like some people do so second day is fast enough for me. Anyway, one thing I have to say about GSC-BTS is that it's a pretty cool place to watch a movie. The seats are comfortable and the stadium arrangement is great. The distance from the screen to the first row is quite far so even if you only get third row seats it would still be comfortable enough, not like TGV. I remarked to ST that we should come here more often for movies. I still hate the building but GSC over there is great.
The movie started pretty much like the book as do the rest of the movie actually. No major changes in the plot which is a great thing about Rowling books, the movie maker don't really have to change anything, it's all in there. But some things are cut too short especially the Quidditch World Cup. I was so looking forward to watch how professional quidditch is played. If the matches in school was such a thrill, can you imagine what the professionals can do? The beginning I felt was a bit rushed. You don't get to let the excitement of one thing settles in before the next one was thrusted in your face but the pace slows down once they get into the Triwizard Tournament part.
Half hour into the movie I noticed that the movie is pretty dark. No I'm not talking about the tone but the overall look. There was no color. I thought it was the cinema but I experienced it again when I watched it for the second time at TGV.
The second viewing was still nice. I still get to enjoy it. I can't complain about lack of excitement, no element of surprise or that sort of thing because the chance of experiencing that is evitable even in the first viewing having read the book and all. I think it was also because in this one there are more things to see like the Quiddith World Cup, the Yule Ball, dragons, other schools (and their method of transportations), other creatures like the merpeople, more fleshing out of smaller characters like Neville and of course the tournament itself. After awhile I forgot the non-existence of any professional Quidditch playing.
I can go without the third viewing but I promised my sister I'll take her kids so I did. Third viewing was not that bad either. But I have to admit it was a bit too much for one movie. I only get to see LOTR on the big screen twice plus one at the Starlight Cinema but that don't really count. Can't believe this one beat the record.
All in all, below is a summary of my thoughts on the movie.
What I like
1) More Weasley twins
2) Moaning Myrtle
3) The small yet important stuff are in there like the pensieve, Neville's efficiency with botany and the story of his parents.
4) The movie shows that wizards and witches still love to rock, kind of pulling the story closer to present time. Viewer/readers didn't get the feeling that Hogwarts is in another place, in another time.
5) More complexity on the Ron-Harry relationship, which is even more developed in the book.
6) My favorite line, "Fraternizing with the enemy" is in there.
What I don't like
1) Hermione is too emotional in this one
2) Cedric is not good-looking enough
3) Krum is not ugly enough
4) Too little Snape
5) No Mrs Weasley
6) Too much built-up to the Quidditch World Cup, the tents, the amazing stadium, but alas no World Cup
7) Didn't show how the first three champions completed the first task. Well it was not described in the book also but they can improvise right?
8) No house elves
9) How come they didn't show Krum's mini dragon?
10) No Bill and Charlie Weasley
11) No Pigwidgeon
12) No annoying Percy Weasley
Some things you should know if you didn't read the book
1) Cho Chang is a year older than Harry
2) Cho and Cedric are from Ravenclaw.
3) The Horntail that Harry battled was the dragon that Hagrid acquired in the first book.
4) In the book, Malfoy's house elf was the one who conjured the dark mark at the World Cup not Barty Crouch Jr.
5) With the lost of Scabbers, Ron got a new animal, a small owl named Pigwidgeon. Answers to the call of 'Pig'.
6) If you're wondering why the kids went out with Hagrid in the woods when they found what they found, it was probably because Hagrid wanted to show them the maze.
7) Fluer is a veela, beautiful and seductive, something like sirens on land. If the movie expanded on the world cup they might mention the word veela.
8) Madame Maxime and Hagrid didn't get so mushy-mushy in the book. She got close to him just to get some early scoop on the tasks.
9) The was a monetary reward when Harry won the tournament. He felt guilty of winning with Cedric's death and all and because he has more money that he could count, he gave them to the Weasley twins which they used to set up their own business of selling magical candy in school. Maybe movie no. 5 won't mention anything about their business but I feel it's important because it led up to a quite significant event at the end of book 5.
*Warning: May contain some spoilers*
The final task in the movie was a bit of a disappointment. For a competition that brings eternal glory to the winner, it was such a breeze. You just need to find your way through the maze while dodging some greenery. However, the maze in the book was much more complicated than that. There were creatures and illusions that really puts the champions' knowledge of spells and incantations to the test. You can truly get the idea that no regular witch or wizard can go through it and understand how students could've die in previous tournaments.
The ending, with the happy farewells betweeen the three schools and the threesome's light-hearted pact to write to each other was still a bit too cheerful for me. The most evil wizard was just resurrected and Hermione was more concerned about getting letters from her friends? I don't think so.
I can't wait for the next movie. I want to see the Ministry of Magic and more characters with the introduction of The Order of Phoenix. You'll get to meet some aurors, some sort of wizard police. Finally, some real action from real wizards and not just some small magic from amateur students anymore.
Well, I guess Harry said it better himself, "I love magic."