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I am extremely disappointed with the movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

There, I have said it.

Let me state categorically that I am one of the biggest fans of J K Rowling’s series of books. I must have read each of the first three books at least five times, and the rest at least twice each. When the movies came out, I watched every single one twice, despite being similarly disappointed.

Perhaps the very fact that Harry Potter is so beloved of me has caused the movie adaptations to lose the magical feelings that were invoked in me as I read the books.

The latest is undoubtedly a huge let down, in my books at least. The characters were all shallow and lacked emotional depth. Ron was reduced to a sniveling jealous sidekick whose presence could have been eliminated without much loss. Hermione turned into an angsty emo, alternating between weeping and shouting in the few scenes that featured her. Dumbledore, the sagely, wacky and fatherly headmaster of Hogwarts, turned into an aggressive old fart who shoved and yelled at students to be quiet. Snape was a nonentity in the film, and his despise for Harry seemed to have faded into limp sneers and glares, as opposed to the verbal taunts and snide remarks that were aimed at provoking Harry in the book. Rita Skeeter, oh so delightfully annoying in the book, flitted in and out of the show in under five minutes. Viktor Krum was supposed to be sullen and introverted, not brash and arrogant as portrayed in the show. On the other hand, arrogant was Fleur Delacour’s middle name in the book but it was changed to flirtatious on the big screen.

The plot was choppy and loose, with friends, who had not read the book before, wondering if the World Cup really existed or was it just a figment of Harry’s imagination. There was no explanation about the Death Mark, or why the Death Eaters created mischief at the World Cup when their Dark Lord still had not risen. And what was priori incantatem and what was so significant about the joining of the two wands?

It wasn’t so much the liberties that the director had taken with the book (he had omitted important characters such as Winky and Dobby the house elves) but that he had not taken the care to develop what was left of the story properly and with great clarity.

I had always loved reading the chapter where Harry was transported to the graveyard via the portkey and ended up dueling with Lord Voldemort. The scene is especially poignant because Harry’s parents actually appeared in the dome that had surrounded the dueling duo, and had spoken to him, protecting him (read why here). I always had tears in my eyes as I picture Harry struggling against an aghast Voldemart, who did not understand why there were beads of light emerging and why the ghosts of those he had killed had appeared, and subsequently dodging the spells of the Death Eaters to get to poor Cedric’s body and summoning the port key into his hands. In the movie, the struggle was over in, say, five seconds and there was no real sense of the good fighting against the evil.

Aww. I think I will just go back to reading the books over and over again.

In other news, Acmabooks is now selling The Order of Phoenix and The Half-blood Prince for just S$10. I’m ordering mine now.

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