Last night: to the local cinema for the first time in ages, with my friend Mystery Filmgoer, to see Harry Potter and the
Empire That Struck Back Goblet of Fire whilst it was still on. As I’ve not seen any of the three preceding films I wasn’t too hot on the idea of going at first; but I have recently read the book; so I thought the film would be an interesting comparison.
I didn’t like the plot structure of the book, because I thought the final rabbit-out-of-the-hat plot twist was far too unshadowed and unexpected. The film completely solves that, by actually mentioning the main Evil Villain* more than once before the end, and adding in lots of extra clues along the way. Plus, he is definitely one of the sexiest evil villains I’ve seen for a long time.** An awful lot of subplots were stripped out of the book, but it still feels like a very crammed film, with far too many points left unexplained. If I hadn’t read the book, I don’t think I’d have had a clue what was happening at some points.
In other ways, it’s very unbalanced. The middle act is mostly light-hearted teenage embarrasment comedy; then the ending swings completely round to gloom, darkness, and foreboding. There’s nothing happy about the ending at all; just death, destruction, and the appearance of the real Evil Villain Who Is More Evil Than Anyone Else.***
The effects are all very, well, magical, and the design does seem very solid and well-thought. It does seem that if you’re a British wizard you’re expected to be a big fan of Victorian Gothic and the Arts and Crafts movement; and the design of Hogwarts’ bathing piers made me think more than anything of the Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway. Like all British films, too, you have the fun of spotting all the usual British actors: That Bloke From The Fast Show, That Bloke From Drop The Dead Donkey, That Bloke Who You’re Sure Was Dead By Now, and Ooh, Isn’t He The Sexy One Who’s Going To Be The Next Doctor?****
I had a good time watching it, but it’s definitely not a stand-alone film, what with the lack of explanation and the dark, anti-climatic ending. The point of which, I suppose, is that in a year’s time I will probably want to see the next one.
* I don’t mean Voldemort, I mean the chap who is his Evil Sidekick and actually does all the dirty work
** although Mystery Filmgoer disagreed loudly on this
*** “My evil overlord’s got no nose!” “How does he smell?” “Awful!!!”
**** I think Mystery Filmgoer was probably going to slap me if I called him sexy again