Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
For each of the four HARRY POTTER films, Warner Bros. has tested them at the same Chicago-area theater first. Must be a lucky theater for them, because it sounds like fans were very, very happy with what they saw.
Keep in mind, this film’s still fairly unfinished, and there’s a lot of FX work still to be done. Also, purists are probably going to grow more agitated with these films as time passes, rather than less. Still, let’s see how Mike Newell has expanded upon the wonderful job that Alfonso Cuaron did with the last movie.
Greetings from the windy city! I am a big fan of the site and I don't usually feel the need to send in stuff, but something happened tonight that had me calling every friend I had to tell them what I just saw.
Last week, while standing in line for movie tickets, me and my friend were handed a flier to watch a 'family movie' that was test screening the following weekend. When I asked the guy what the movie was, he said, 'It's a secret.' Of course, I rolled my eyes. I figured we should go - it's free. Worst case, we would have to sit through that cheesy Dakota Fanning movie about horses.
Right away, I could tell this wasn't the run of the mill screening, because every bag was searched and even camera cell phones were confiscated ... and this was even AFTER being metal detectored. The stranger thing was when looking around, there wasn't a kid in the theater! I thought it was weird,especially since this was described as 'family'. Business type people were walking around prior to the movie talking quietly with several of the audience members asking side questions and even asking them to stay afterwards to have questions asked in the presence of some of the people who worked on the film.
A man up front, picked up a microphone and thanked us for coming. The next words out of his mouth were, 'You will be one of the first audiences in the world to see HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE.' Dude, the audience ERUPTED in cheers. And here I thought I was going to see a Tigger movie....
Now about the movie: First of all guys, this movie is freakin' EXCELLENT! We were told prior to the movie that a lot of the effects weren't finished and some portions may be too dark. But, from what I could tell, it was pretty much the full movie.
The story centers around Harry and his involvement in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. I'm not going to give plot points or spoilers, because you can pick up the book for that (Reading? What's that?).
First off, the best action scenes deal with his tasks during the tournament. The entrances of the two competing schools are clever and done very well. There's an awesome scene where Harry has to deal with a dragon that had me on the edge of my seat. I won't spoil it, but just think of a Jurassic Park version of Quidditch. There's also a great scene underwater with some seriously bad-ass mermaids (I know - go figure). The usual characters make an appearance (Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape), but this time around they don't get a lot of screen time unfortunately.
HANDS DOWN the best character in this movie is Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody. His portrayal of the Dark Arts teacher is SPOT on and you cannot believe how good this guy is in this role. The scenes in the class room with him teaching the kids about curses is fucking great. He also has a scene with Malfoy that is hilarious. He is definitely the best Harry Potter character in the series! Also, Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. When he first appeared on screen, I almost fell out of my chair. Un-fuckin-believable how right on he gets it. Truly Goeth-esque. All I can say is he scares the shit out of you in the final scenes. BRILLIANT. Miranda Richardson also does a great job as Rita Skeeter, hitting just the right greasy tabloid reporter tone.
Lastly, this movie has more heartfelt moments compared to the last ones. There's a lot more character moments that pull at your heart strings and small scenes that have you laughing out loud. I felt like I cared more. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint (Harry, Hermione, and Ron) have definitely come into their own and improved as actors. It is very clear in this movie as they have to emote more than they have ever had to. It is truly astonishing to watch. The scenes leading up to and at the Yule Ball are a thing of beauty.
Now, I'm not going to sugar coat this and say, it's the best movie of the year, but it definitely has the potential to be the BEST of the current Harry Potter movies (yes - even better than Azkaban). I think there are some confusing areas that need to be ironed out for the non-Harry Potter fans and some pacing issues, but once they're done, it'll be a hands down home run of a movie.
I overheard someone say that this a very dark movie and not for the really young kiddies (unless you want to pay for some serious therapy). I'd have to agree that this is definitely a more grown up Harry type movie. It deals with more teenager type issues, romance, and angst for all three of the main characters. A must see movie even in it's current form.
Call me HornTail
P.S. You might want to clean up my grammar a little. I started writing this REALLY late at night and wasn't really paying 100% attention. Feel free to edit out the beginning, I just wanted to make sure you knew I was on the level.
No worries. Good review, and what’s interesting to me is seeing how Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint are handling growing up on camera. I don’t know what Warner Bros. and the parents of these young actors are doing right, but hats off, because they’ve managed to stay focused on the craft, stay out of the tabloids, and they seem to be growing as performers with each new film.
Here’s another take:
Before i start any of this i just wanna that Aint It Cool News is the best movie site online hands down, and Harry and Moriarty do a great service to all of us movie fans.
Now, a week ago today was going to be a regular summer saturday in Chicago, until a friend of mine was asked to participate in a test screening. She asked me if i wanted to go and how could i refuse? The screening was a one of the smaller arthouse theaters in the city but the crowd was big and teeming with excitement. I had no idea what it would be, i was hoping it would be Wedding Crashers, a couple of people behind me were hoping it was Chronicles of Narnia, that would have been cool too, but they dont screen movies that far away do they? Turns out those people were a little closer to the release timeframe than i was, it was HARRY POTTER 4!
Last i heard this movie is going to be released in November and the guy said that we would be one of the first audiences to see the movie anywhere. I am a little bit of a strange Harry Potter fan, considering i've really liked the first three movies and haven't read any of J.K. Rowling's five books. Friends of mine like the movies ok and arent as big fans as i are of them especially Alfonso Cuaron's adaptation of Prisoner of Azkaban. Personally, i think Warner Brothers should have contracted him to direct the rest of the films, he had a perfect tone and pace for his take at Harry Potter. Unfortunately Cuaron did not direct the fourth film, Mike Newell did, and being from the guy that directed Mona Lisa Smile, it shows.
There are some serious pacing issues the whole way through. The begining of the movie jumps from event to event and special effect setups for later in the film. It is a big problem. We jump litterally from Harry, Ron, and Hermione waking up and walking outside with Rons family to touching a port key to being at the Quidditch World Cup in one minute. Not one line of dialouge to let the audience know where they're going until they're there. And you get this same jumps several times in the film, there are big arrivals at Hogwarts and we dont even see who they are for another fifteen minutes. Nothing that happens in the first forty five minutes is set up it just happens in no specific order. We go from the World Cup to the being on the Hogwarts Express, like school starts the next day. I felt like you had to have read the book to know what was going on, what characters were being introduced. The audience is neglected and given no way to figure some scenes out until the movie allows.
It does manage to pick up some steam with the start of the Tri Wizard Tournament, and the events that follow. But there are the obligatory scenes in between, some of which are unbearable. *Mini Spoiler* Ron being mad at Harry for entering the Tri Wizard tournament without telling him. Hermione being worried about Harrys saftey because "wizards have died in the tournament". And more Ron being mad at Harry *End of Mini Spoliers* The bad out weighs the good and there are some mysterious choices for subplot in this film, biggest being a big dance at Hogwarts that gets Harry and Ron all stressed out with who to ask. This whole thing is ridiculously bad and i hope they keep it in the final release. It is complete with a wizard punk band that the kids rock out to and later, young wizards making out in corners. It feels so out of place not only with this film but with the whole Harry Potter world.
With every edition of Harry Potter there is a new cast of supporting characters, some of which are good. Such as the New Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Moody, who has a large popped out eye that looks pretty good and is played with alot of fun. And a witch reporter with a pen and pad that magically write for her is played well. Lastly the first physical confrontation Voldemort takes place and it is played with alot of care by Ralph Fiennes. It is good for Harry to finally have a real enemy, and for the emeny to not be member of Hogwarts staff. And a dark tone is really set in the last twenty minutes for the next, hopfully more mature instalments. Not nearly as good as the last three films but still better than alot of stuff out there, at least this summer. This has been a great property for Warner and they have to keep it safe, from the looks of this and the direction of the next films they may be in trouble. I hope with touch ups this will be memorable, but its just a little dissapointing now.
If you use this call me Nu Guy. Thanks.
Okay... not so much of a rave. I think this is an important perspective because it sounds like this guy views the films the same way Knowles does... as films. I know that POTTER is a publishing phenomenon, and 90% of the audience for these movies knows the books backwards and forwards before stepping into the theater, but there’s something to be said for the viewer who comes to the films fresh, who simply watched them as movies. Sounds like he was underwhelmed, and it makes me wonder if this one’s going to be considered a backwards step by some viewers.
This last review is the most positive (and detailed) of the ones we’ve gotten in so far. Check it out:
Just got back from (what they told us) was the first screening anywhere of Goblet of Fire here in Chicago. Everyone in the theater was kind of holding their breath, but when one of the monitors said the movie was 2.5 hours, we knew it wasn't Chicken Little. When they announced it was Harry Potter IV, everyone cheered.
It looks really great. I was worried about this one, because the book's so long, and it was hard to see how it would translate well to film, but I think they've pulled it off. I recently read that Mike Newell was going to be building on what Cuaron did in Prisoner of Azkaban, and he has, but he's made it his own, too. It's not so consistently dark. The humor in the books comes through more, and all the kid actors have really improved.
The movie isn't quite finished; they told us at the beginning that if something didn't look right, by the time the movie was released it would be in place, and enough of the special effects were finished that it was more interesting than annoying to see the spots where they were still working on it.
I don't know if anyone goes to these movies who hasn't read the books, and I have a 7 year old HP maniac, so I've got them all but memorized, but I tried to imagine what the story would read like for someone who didn't know the books.
The opening scene is a little skimmed over, so you don't get the whole Riddle family history, and he made the sort of strange choice of having Barty Crouch, Jr. there with Voldemort and Wormtail. It would be a little hard to follow if you hadn't read the books. In fact, my husband, who hasn't been as immersed in them as I've been did find that a little hard to follow. Harry wakes from his dream/vision at the Weasely's house, and is off to the Quidditch World cup in the first 5 minutes of the film. I gotta say, I missed the Dursley's, but I understand why you couldn't have everything. The World Cup scenes were our first unfinished special effects, but we do get to see Harry enter the magical tent, and say "I love magic," and I knew what he meant. I hope they're going to add something of the World Cup, because it skipped from the opening of the game to back in the tent. . . .
As soon as they arrive back at Hogwarts, the Beauxbaton (which Michael Gambon does a true Englishman's pronunciation of) and Durmstrang schools are arriving. The Durmstrang ship looks great. They made the odd choice of having Beauxbaton be an all girls' school and Durmstrang all boys. They really changed Victor Krum's character. He's much more handsome and cocky and little ol' Hermione seems really into him from the start. The championship starts almost immediately. The scene explaining the tournament seemed kind of rushed to me. And Dumbledore got really physical with Harry when he's selected as a champion. In general, I think Michael Gambon has done a much better job with that character, bringing out more of the humor, but that didn't seem to fit at all.
The dragons on the first task are amazing, but most of Harry's fight with it takes place far away from the stadium. It kind of felt more like a car chase scene. It just seemed that in the book part of what was important in the 1st task was bringing the school back around to supporting Harry, and primarily healing the rift with Ron (I told you I'd spent a lot of time with these books. . . .)
Miranda Richardson makes a great Rita Skeeter, and it's a shame that her part was some of what had to be cut back in the interest of time. She's perfect in it.
THe second task is done really well. I do enjoy Rowling's books, but i've gotten the feeling lately it wouldn't hurt her to have an editor with a firmer grip. Newell, like Cuaron, changes the sequence of some events in ways that really improves the tension. Harry gets attacked by grindylows after he's rescued Ron and Gabrielle, so they swim free and he gets pulled down just a little longer. I think it's good to have directors that are a little less reverential than Chris Columbus seemed to be. I'm sure it's also that these directors have more freedom because the kids are so improved, too.
The Yule Ball is well done and all the scenes around it really develop the characters much better. Lots of Fred and George Weasley this time around. (why that family has accents from everywhere in England is not really clear - but Fred's and George's really suit their characters)
The only back story we get on Barty Crouch comes when Harry dips into Dumbledore's pensive, which is a much abbreviated scene, and has Karkarov accuse Crouch, Jr. in open court. That leaves out the whole scary gang of Deatheaters that will appear in 5 and it's NEVER explained how he got out of Azkaban, which is odd given how important it was in 3, but, as I said, it was a 2.5 hour movie. . . .
The 3rd task begins rather abruptly, but it was a cool mix of complete and incomplete effects. The maze looks great, although Krum's behavior is a little thinly developed. Harry says that "he's under a spell," but it's not very clear how he knows this exactly. Cedric and Harry do work well together in all their scenes. The graveyard scene is great. Ralph Fiennes does a really good job in very little screen time. I at first heard that Malkovich was going to be Voldemort, but Fiennes really works. The duel and the way that the spirits of those that Voldemort killed helped Harry could really use just a little bit more work. It was clear that the effects weren't quite finished there, but since there are now no house elves in this version, there's no previous explanation of how you pull the last spell out of a wand.... My husband, who doesn't drive around with Harry Potter on CD in the car, said it wasn't that hard to follow, but I thought it could look more cool.
The final Dumbledore speech on Cedric's death and "Voldemort is back" fell a little flat, but that seems part of working on a series. There aren't really ends. All in all it was a really fun afternoon and I think it's another good movie. Much more actively paced like three rather than the first two. We'll definitely be seeing it again.
My daughter's favorite part: Filch dances with his cat.
I really wish I knew how people got into screenings so regularly; we were just given a flyer at another movie we went to last week, but now I actually have something to send to Ain't It Cool.
You can sign me: Phoebe C.