Harry Potter and the Goblet of Suck

I’m a Harry Potter geek. There’s no way around it, that’s what I am: an absolute Harry Potter geek. I’ve read each of the books at least twice. I’ve had serious adult conversations about matters of plot and characterization. I’ve held up the series as a classic of modern fantasy world building. I’m really far too into them for my own good, so it probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that I hated the movie version of Goblet of Fire.

And the previews looked so good! Really, I had high hopes. I thought the previous three movies were all about the same: visually stunning, but weak adaptations of a fantastic story. I couldn’t quite imagine anyone who hadn’t read the books enjoying them. But the previews and the buzz for GoF were so exciting, I thought there was a possibily this might actually be a good movie.

I should say that I understand that there’s no way everything from the book could make it into the movie. I don’t demand that a movie adaption be perfectly faithful to the original text, and when the original text is 600+ pages long, I think it’s a laudable feat to reduce it to 180 minute movie.

Some of the cuts were regrettable but understandable. Winky the house elf was gone, as was Bertha Jorkins. Ludo Bagman is gone, and some aspects of his character are folded into Barty Crouch. No Winky means no Top Box, no Percy Weasley, no S.P.E.W. To explain Barty Crouch, Jr., the filmmakers inserted him into the first scene with Wormtail and Voldemort at the old Riddle place, which was pretty clever, because otherwise he would have made no sense, but the loss of Bagman and the compression of the Pensieve scenes made Crouch, Sr. a very confusing character. (And also I guess Junior just escaped from Azkaban on his own? Somehow? Whatever.)

The Dursleys don’t make an appearance, so we don’t get the scene with the Weasleys trying to use Floo Powder to get to Privet Drive. (Alas!) The Knockturn Alley episode is cut. (Fine.) Most of the Quidditch World Cup itself is gone, although we do get a cool shot of the inside of the Weasley’s tent. Because there’s no Winky, the whole bit where it’s Harry’s wand that’s used to cast the Dark Mark is gone. In fact, Barty Crouch, Jr’s whole motivation is changed. In the book, he casts the Dark Mark to frighten the Death Eaters, who he considers to be insufficiently loyal to Voldemort. In the movie, he does it because he’s eeevil. Lip-lickingly evil. (Acting!)

To make the movie a reasonable length, just about everything other than the Tri-wizard tasks was cut from the Hogwarts school year, and that’s a shame but understandable. It made for a bit of an odd moment where, in the scene immediately following the first task, Hermione is already hectoring Harry about whether or not he’s made any progress with his egg, but whatever. Let’s call it brisk pacing.

Sirius Black is almost entirely absent from the movie. Since we didn’t learn about Floo Powder, there’s an (admittedly pretty cool) different way that Sirius talks to Harry from the fire in the Gryffindor common room. Charlie and Bill Weasley aren’t in the movie, nor is Mrs. Weasley, so they aren’t there at the end to join in the council in the hospital wing.

In fact, the council in the hospital wing doesn’t happen at all! And while the cuts listed above are disappointing, but understandable, it’s hard to excuse some other things. Crouch, Jr. isn’t killed by a dementor. Dumbledore doesn’t have his falling out with Fudge: there is no “parting of the ways.” Instead, they have a seemingly minor argument over the discovery of Crouch, Sr.’s body instead (which happens after the second task), even though his body isn’t found in the book. (It has to be found in the movie, because there’s no Winky subplot, but it’s still weird, because even after Crouch is found dead, nothing much seems to happen as a result. It’s not remarked upon again.) Dumbledore’s instructions to Snape and Hagrid don’t happen, and Sirius isn’t revealed to Snape and the Weasleys. These last few omissions are going to cascade into plot problems for the subsequent movies: will there be a mission to the giants? Will there be Grawp? What about Snape’s double-agent status in Half Blood Prince?

I get the sense there may have been a much better movie on the cutting-room floor (or whatever the digital equivalent of that is). There are too many elements that are set up, but don’t pay off. Take Rita Skeeter, for example. She’s a truly hateful and annoying character in GoF, probably second only to Umbridge for the title of “Most Annoying Harry Potter Character” but at least she serves a purpose in the book. She turns the wizarding world against Harry by spreading the rumor that he’s crazy. She “outs” Hagrid as being half-giant. She even causes some fleeting tension between Hermione and Mrs. Weasley by insinuating that she and Harry are romantically involved. And eventually, Hermione discovers Rita’s secret and forces her to quit writing about Harry. This is the conduit for Harry’s story getting told (properly) in Order of the Phoenix. Rita’s a pivotal character, but I can understand why one might have to cut her from the movie. I fully expected her to be cut from the movie.

But she’s not cut from the movie! Instead, we get the setup for two of her plot points: she writes a story about Harry’s glory-grabbing ways, and the story about Harry and Hermione. And that’s it! She, and her writing, are never mentioned again. Why bother even having her in the movie? Why have a meaningful cutaway to her, scribbling away at Karkaroff’s trial, in the Pensieve? Her character serves no purpose in the movie except for some light comic relief. I get that Mike Newell likes Miranda Richardson, but… Rita should have been cut in favor of some scenes that made the plot make any damn sense at all.

The Tri-Wizard tournament itself didn’t quite deliver, since the filmmakers eliminated the monetary prize. That pretty thoroughly muddled the Weasley kids’ motivation for entering the tournament. And since Harry didn’t win a prize, he couldn’t give it to Fred and George, which means there will be no Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in the next movie.

Then there were some weird changes from the book. The most notable was the Yule Ball, and the way the movie dialed up the Ron/Hermione relationship a few notches higher than the book did. I get it, it’s a movie. Moviegoers like a romantic subplot. But Hermione’s angsty flounce after the dance was much weaker (and lamer) than the superior snit she throws in the book.

Worse was the end of the third task: in the book Harry saves Cedric from Krum, who’s been bewitched by the Imperius Curse to attack him. Feeling indebted to Harry for saving him from being tortured, Cedric offers to let him take the cup first and they end up agreeing to take it together. In the movie, Cedric gets away from Krum on his own, and Harry saves him from some of the maze brambles, which are part of the task! Did Harry save him because, I don’t know, he decided he didn’t want to win? The brambles aren’t fatal; they got Fleur and she popped up out the maze just fine. So why did Harry feel obligated to help his competitor? The motivation is all screwed up.

The most unforgivable failing of the movie, however, is Albus Dumbledore. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that Dumbledore is my favorite character in the books. His wisdom, sense of humor, his obvious love for Harry and all of students, and his disdain for undeserved authority are what make Dumbledore, well, Dumbledore. Michael Gambon (and probably Mike Newell) don’t get it. Throughout the entire movie, Dumbledore is angry, desperate, and shrill, not at all the whimsical, supremely confident, and gentle man from the books. After Harry’s name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, Gambon’s Dumbledore charges Harry, and shakes him, demanding to know if Harry put his own name into the goblet. Dumbledore laying hands on one of his students? Ridiculous. Gambon spends the entire movie running from place to place and shouting, which is the opposite of Dumbledore. In the book, Dumbledore raises his voice once — once that I can think of in the entire series! — to chastize Hagrid for losing his temper and assaulting Karkaroff after they discover that Krum has been stunned by the forest. It’s powerful because it’s the first time we’ve ever seen Dumbledore lose his composure. In the movie, he shouts for silence and waves his arms around so much, it’s a wonder anyone listens to him.

And it’s not just seeing a beloved character misinterpreted that upsets me. The audience is cheated out of one of the most spine-tingling moments in the series. When fake-Moody has Harry up in his office after the graveyard, Harry sees Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape in the Foe-glass (another setup with no payoff in the movie!) and then whirls around to see the trio break down the door, Dumbledore with his wand outstretched. Harry thinks to himself that for the first time, he realizes why Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort was ever afraid of. The scene, as written, is practically cinematic already. It took effort and creativity to screw it up.

Obviously, I thought Gambon was a disaster as Dumbledore. The other casting seems pretty good, although Viktor Krum was perhaps a bit too handsome. His gawky, uncomfortable character in the book was jettisoned in favor of making him a chiselled bad-ass. I guess that made him a better movie-rival for Harry in the tournament. Robert Pattinson was cast perfectly as Cedric Diggory. My wife, who is apparently dead inside, confessed that she was unmoved by Cedric’s death in the book, but the movie version got to her.

The kids, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, do a fabulous job. Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman do what they can with their (too-small) roles, and do it well. Ralph Fiennes was a little prancy, for my taste, as Voldemort (I always pictured He Who Must Not Be Named being a bit more…. Palpatine, circa Return of the Jedi) but definitely brought the evil. He’ll be a worthy villain in the future.

Anyway. It’s a spectacle, to be sure, but if you love the books, it will make you sad. Save your money: rent the DVD, read the books.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Suck

0 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Suck

  1. Thank you!!!! I had the same feeling after leaving the theater! It *did* make me sad.

    I was looking forward to the ton tongue toffee. And Dumbledore angry at Harry for his name being in the cup??? What was that about?

    I was also unsure why they had to change the final task so much. Where was the giant spider? Why wasn’t Harry hurt more? And I can’t believe they left out the money! The Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes are totally necessary for the next movie.

    I actually was also bothered that they did Barty Jr the way they did. In the book I thought he just might have been innocent, I liked not knowing, but painting him evil from the first moment made it too easy. And I also agree, it was weird that they never mentioned Barty Sr again after finding his body.

    Grumble, grumble, grumble…I thought it was pretty, and I loved the trio, but I may as well have waited for dvd…

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  2. Finally! Someone with some sense is talking about GOF. I couldn’t agree more with your views on Gambon, as Dumbledore. I don’t know if we were just very fortunate to have Richard Harris, but this Dumbledore irritates me for just the reasons you stated.

    I am a HP geek too and I’m relieved to see that other geeks are outraged in some way, shape, or form about the movie. I can only hope that some day, Peter Jackson will remake the entire series, and it will be more to my liking.

    Just a question though, would you have minded going to see GOF Part I and GOF Part II? I would have gladly paid for two movies if they had included more of the book.

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  3. You know, I probably would have been willing to see a two-part movie, but I’m guessing I’m in the minority. What galls me is I don’t even think that’s necessary. This could have been a better movie not necessarily by including more of the book, but by being more faithful to it.

    I thought the first 10 minutes or so, when we whooshed right into the Quidditch World Cup, were pretty good. There was stuff that was skipped, but that’s inevitable.

    However, cut some of the additions, like that stupid “learning to dance” scene, and trim down the gee-whiz dragon scene, and excise Rita Skeeter completely, and then I think you have some space leftover to do the plot justice.

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  4. First things first, BRAVO!! I really am impressed with your review of the movie… I too am a HP fan, but I can’t seem to bring myself to see any of the movies… (does this make me less of a fan?..sheesh, I hope not)… What it is is that when I read the book, I conjure up an image of what I think each character looks like in my mind, and that sort of stayed with me through all of ’em. When the first movie opened and I saw the previews, none of the characters looked like anything I’d imagined (except Snape and Ron), so I never went to see ’em…

    I’m glad I stumbled on to this site… and I”m glad you did such a great job of describing the movie… I can almost see it in my head now… well, that’s it.. hopefully, this made some sort of sense to you guys… 🙂

    Prov. RI

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  5. Maddison says:

    Best review ever!!!Hit the mark with every one of the comments. I’m a true HP fan and the movie made such a mockery of the book that I wonder how they(director, scriptwriter) live with themselves?!! and I wonder how JKR feels seeing her ingenious masterpieces reduced to superficial brainless crap and her characters completely mutilated?!!! Gambons’s dumbledore is as gentle and smart as a blast-ended skrewt,the only role he’s fit to play is the stinking and pilfering mundungus fletcher.

    I agree completely about the useless scenes e.g dance lessons, an exaggerated first task and they took the moaning myrtle scene so far that it became disturbing!!!Give us back winky, and let barty crouch and moody thing be a surprise!! PS, CoS, GoF movies kept the twist, why does this one have to be such a give-away?!!

    But most of all Gambon’s just the worse thing that’s ever happened to the movies, he’s got no class, no personality, we want someone worthy!!!!

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  6. Maddison says:

    I mean PoA had a twist too, not GoF…
    Did you get the feeling that Hermione (emma) was a bit of a blast-ended skrewt too throughout the film? I felt that she was overacting her reactions at times…

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  7. holeybubushka says:

    I saw the movie yesterday and agree with most of your thoughts. (particuarly everything involving Barty Crouch jr- the only competent and compelling death eater we’ve met in the books reduced to a tongue licking eviiiiiiil badie with seemingly little motivation. Not to mention; ok, what happens to him now?)

    While the worst actor for you is Michael Gambon, I will agree to that but raise you a Emma Watson. She is AWFUL! She over enunciates every word. In the entire movie, at no point did her performance seem real. She’s so shrill, that it renders Hermione one note. The over enuncuating thing was cute when she was 11, but Emma Watson? Learn to actually act, ok?

    The writing doesn’t help much; I pretty much lost any love for the movies when Kloves gave Hermione my favorite Ron line of the entire series so far-(“If you want to kill him you;ll have to go through us first!” POA ((Aw, Ron!)) ). But I’ve decided that Kloves has talent, but Emma Watson has none. Sadly.

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  8. TonksFan says:

    Yes, you are definately NOT alone in this assessment!! I and several of us adults who read Harry Potter here during interior Alaska’s long winters agree with this review. We are so, so sad – and emotionally upset … (I would say we’re absolutely outraged, but don’t want to sound over reacting and adicted to Harry Potter…) over “the fake dumbledore” as we call Michael Gambon. Unless Richard Harris’ organized mind allows his next great adventure be to come back this this earth and replace Michael Gambon, we are probably stuck with him!! He holds no truth to Dumbledore’s character – has zero presence, and his whole appearance stinks!! He is so far from being a natural benvolent leader that one gets nerveous just watching him….we can’t stand his lack of integrity…it was so bad in GOF that we couldn’t hardlt sit through the movie… He openly admits in an interview after ” The Prisoner…” that he didn’t even read the books until afterwards…he said “Naah, I just do my own thing.” As far as I am concerned go do it somewhere else! One can only imagine that either J.K Rowling cried and vomited after seeing his performance, or she has surrendered to the notion that the movies not be compared with the books on any level since the first two movies. I had really hoped they would “Dumbledore-up” John Hurt who played Mr. Ollivander. He HAS that sparkle in his eyes that Gambon so drastically lack …

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  9. Vicky says:

    What terrific reviews! I agree with each and every one of them. I am tired of hearing what a friggin masterpiece Movie #4. It sucks. It didn’t have to be longer, just better. BTW – John Hurt was an early choice for the original Dumbledore, but fate sucks! Since he’s already identified with Ollivander, he couldn’t be recast after Harris’ death. The casting rumor currently scaring the crap out of me is about Elizabeth Hurley being strongly in contention for the role of Bellatrix Lestrange in Movie #5.

    But back to Goblet of Garbage…it’s clear that the makers of the past 2 films didn’t really read the books of the series. They obviously just scanned the one book they each were adapting, and had no sense of the context in which they were developed. There is no real sense of a past nor a future…just the present. That’s a disaster in a Harry Potter world. Anyone who actually read and loved the books would instinctively respect the existing tension, spirit and wonder contained within them. The books are magical enough. They do not need to be “reimagined” by a director. And yet, once again…the director of a Harry Potter film is not content to let this incredibly involving story stand on its own. It’s a story with a natural, perfect pacing…with delightful, involving characters…and gripping scenes. It needs no embellishment. The myth that a movie should not “be” the book is absurd. Why should it merely serve as a platform for some director’s vanity. The great films of adapted from great books, succeed because the director lets the book speak for himself. Like, “Gone With the Wind” or “The Godfather,” or the most perfect film adaptation ever…”Maltese Falcon.” They are examples of immortal films distilled with affection and skill from their original perfect sources. You can sense that this director doesn’t quite understand HP. For him, it’s just another project. It was proven by the utterly literal transcription of Sirius in the fireplace. As a freaking log. Only someone who had never really read the books would have no sense at all about fire calls. Only someone who really didn’t read the dragon scene would have felt the need add more boring CGI chasing. I mean, wasn’t it a cool scene as it was? Obviously, some lackey said to the director – “…um, like, there’s a dragon scene…” The fact that he left out the final, crucial scene in the Infirmary “The Parting of the Ways” shows how little he is moved. It’s such an important, satisfying, cathartic point…it shows how little Newell knows or understands Harry Potter. It would also be wonderful to have a director who doesn’t think the name of the book is “Hermione Granger and the Order of the Phoenix.” That girl gets blonder and more “actress-y” with each movie. The less said about Gambon, the better. He merely projected his utter boredom with the material…and sucked the oxygen out of every scene.

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  10. PotterChick Of W.A. says:

    yes, thank you. When i saw the movie i was angry and some of my friends were like who cares but i do. I mean they took things away that should of been there and and stuff that they should of taken out so they could put some other stuff in. I also found that they made the tournments seem to close together. Like they were one after another. I mean they could of at least make them seem a month apart even though they were even father apart then that. I also did not like the qudditch world cup scene. They ruined it and didnt even show any of it to us. They, during the whole film seemed to pop stuff out all of a sudden not make it flow in like it did in the book. I also found that they should of made Rita Skeeter show up more like she did in the book. They made it seem like she had no big part. I will be amzed if the fifth movie will be any good if they have to build of the fourth. What do you think will happen with the fifth movie? Will it turn out good?

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  11. Morsmordre says:

    First of all, let me congratulate you for an excelent review.

    I am a HP fan but I saw the movies before reading the books. What really made me read the books was this movie, because i didn’t understand most of it. I mean, they cutted everything! how in heaven’s name are they going to make Order of the Phoenix? (which is the largest book, i think) are they going to cut every single backstory they can find?

    You are perfectly right about Dumbledore, it’s a terrible performance, he’s like a 60 years old maniac house-elf, instead of a calm, wise and intelligent wizard. If he continues this performance in the following movies, the Half Blood Prince will make no sense at all.

    I have to disagree with one thing in your review, I really believe that Emma Watson’s performance in this movie was terrible. Hermione was not all hormonal in the book, but in the movie she looks like she is in a constant “day of the month”. She cries like mad, she speaks like crying all the time, she makes painful faces in stupid situations!

    They also made Ron look like a twisted, perverted and evil character when he’s angry at Harry at first, but I think that it’s not the actors problem in this case.

    Anyway, I really hope they make some justice with the next movie’s book. But I’m not so confident, I don’t see Lupin nor Mad-Eye in the current cast (not even rumored) and just for that the movie will not be as good as it could be.

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  12. Vance says:

    Nice review. I enjoy seeing the movies, even if they piss me off more and more each time. Part 1 and 2 were masterpieces in my opinion. I dont see how they are able to cast so well these parts, and still mess up on at least the 2nd most important role in the movies.

    Just an addition, where are the VEELA!, and why doesn’t Fleur look more beautiful with her Veela magic . They have the scene were Ron was going crazy after trying to talk to Fleur, but it makes Ron just look like a freak. The moviegoers should of known Fleur was part Veela and what that actually means. I dont like it when they make Ron look more like a moron than what he is supposed to be 🙂

    I’ve been googling for a while here today, and I can’t find a single site, WB or otherwise, that has confirmed Gamdon will be Dumbledore in OOTP Movie. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

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  13. loosenoose says:

    i have read all of the hp books so far, most of them at least twice, and i have seen multiple viewings of all but gof. let me say that since poa (the movie) introduced me to the whole series, i still like it (though less after reading the book). i think gof sucked big time for a lot of the reasons mentioned above, but there is another little bit that stands out for me… the weasley twins… whats up with them? are they pirates or what? damn, we understand that they dont really feel that rules are of much importance and whatnot, but the voices- come on! are those even their voices?
    also, i thought the opening of the film/and book, at the dursleys was pretty much somewhat of a tradition at this point. i think it is shameful that this bit was dropped from the movie.
    there is just so much more that i want to complain about, but gof just isnt even worth it.
    im not buying the next dvd, unless things have gotten better… dumbledores, directors, what have you…

    speaking of dumbledore- i was just left speechless when dumbledore slammed harry into the wall and started yelling at him like a maniac. wtf?

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  14. loosenoose says:

    oh, and i have forgotten another memorable suck moment.
    the mere bully that is snape.
    in their study period or whatever ***SPOILER ALERT! OMG BEWARE!*** snape pushes on the boy’s heads to get them to stop talking… and he really acts this little scene up, folding back his cuffs and whatnot. alan rickman, please… for the love of god, you are much better than this.

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  15. Richmond says:

    I have to say that I actually liked Gambon’s Dumbledore a lot. In POA, I wasn’t so sure about it, but I’ve had a change of heart. Mostly from reading Half-Blood Prince, where Dumbledore is shown to be a lot less whimsical and a bit more “hardcore” if you will. Try picturing Harris’ Dumbledore trying to do the stuff Dumbledore does toward the end of HBP. It would be a bit awkward.

    Dumbledore is supposed to be an eccentric genius. If you know anything about real life geniuses such as Beethoven, you’ll see that they were usually kind of crazy.

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  16. Jen says:

    Well I probably didn’t hate the movie as much as you did, but I was quite disappointed at some of the parts they left out & the way they arranged certain things. I also wondered about Harry saving Cedric from the brambles, & my brother & I were arguing what would’ve happened if Harry didn’t save him. Perhaps, though, the only reason Fleur came out of the maze safely was because Harry sent up the red sparks, but even so, Harry could’ve just spent up the sparks for Cedric & get all the glory, not to mention Cedric wouldn’t have died but…ya can’t change that.
    I also definitely agree with you about Gambon. How could anyone choose him for Dumbledore?! He’s more like Voldedore(ya know, Dumbledore possessed by Voldie?). I wish Richard Harris could come back & kick this guy out; he was awesome.

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  17. James says:

    I also agree that the movie did not give justice to the rich plot of the book. I understand you can’t include all 600 plus pages into a movie but don’t start taking liberties with the plot. I can’t help but to feel disappointed with the end product of the GOF. In my opinion, if they can’t keep the storyline closer to the book in 180min, then give me a longer epic movie instead of giving me a hack job. If the movie is good then the length will not keep people away from the box office.

    Micheal Gambon is just not a good fit. I don’t know if that is by design from the director or if that’s how Gambon envisions Dumbledore but either way something has to be resolved there. The original Dumbledore harris had a special quality that made him more like the book. He projected warmth, knowledge, kindness and had that sparkle in his eyes that let you know that he really cared for Harry and Hogwarts. I am satisfied with the rest of the cast, especially the parts of Snape, McGonagall, Ron and Filch

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  18. DeAnne says:

    Ok — I’m also a solid Potter geek and your critique is right on. What a great book destroyed by a waste of a movie. It had the potential to be so much more and they wasted it. I am sure that JK Rowling can’t have any oversight on this movie because — REALLY — this destroys her vision and I bet you are right, when book 7 comes out we will find that they have left some very important stuff on the floor inaddition to the very good points you make. I was so disappointed, especially with Gambon. He just doesn’t get it and has no sensitivity towards this character. Talk about a bull in a china closet. And Why not more Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman — what a WASTE of talent. And NO Sirius Black?!? Really ? (p.s. your comment about your wife being apparently dead inside regardign Cederic’s death – almost made me spit out my tea it was so funny)

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  19. Roninicus says:

    God Im so happy people agree. I can not believe that this movie was made the way it turned out. I thought Ron was by far the best actor. Harry has such a lack of facial acting ability he always comes out awkward to me. Barty jr …….OMG ……. why did they let him do the tongue thing? Plot holes galore….not to mention that the whole film had no spark, barely any moving music and was like eating boiled celery sticks. I personally liked PoA much more and would like to see the same crew take over again. I suppose I’ll give Yates a chance though …I mean he can’t do any worse right lol?

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