There are bits that I absolutely loved: Evanna Lynch as lilting Luna Lovegood was perfect, and I wanted more Bellatrix than I got: Helena Bonham Carter was as coquettishly cracked and cackling a witch as anyone could want. Actually, the movie made me realize that Lestrange and Lovegood are counterpoint characters.
Speaking of Bellatrix, I was very glad to see the adults getting some decent screen time: it seemed like they were with the teenagers as opposed to being a backdrop for them, and that was a pleasant change. It was good to see more of Gary Oldman and Jason Isaacs, although we could've used more David Thewlis. There's just nothing better than Alan Rickman as Snape ... I can't see anyone else in that role. He is flawless, and he gets some of the best lines in the whole film. "Obviously." Hee, hee, hee. :) Daniel Radcliffe was better than he's ever been. There's a real actor in there, and good for him!
There was a lot to like about the movie. It's just that I found a lot to dislike as well.
- While I have no problem at all with Imelda Staunton's performance, I didn't care for the director's take on her character. Our audience laughed at her a lot -- and this was an audience mostly comprised of fans who'd read the books and who should know better. I can see not taking her seriously at first, but as the movie went on, I felt that the direction and lighting should've provided a bit more menace ... her insidiousness and zealotry should have inspired more revulsion as a reaction. Some have said that this movie is the darkest yet for the series. It is, but it didn't go dark enough where her character was concerned. Her control-freak fanaticism ... the suffering the students endured at her hands just didn't come through sufficiently for my taste. I mean, believe me, I get that she's dangerous just because her trappings make her so hard to take seriously ... I just feel that the danger of her sincerity, the level of her sadism was conveyed much better in the book, despite the nice but too-easy-to-miss bit with the twins comforting the child who'd had his hand cut by the quill.
- They also cut the heck out of it. I understand, I understand ... but it was a little much for me. There are some very important bits of information in Book 5, particularly what the occlumency reveals about Severus Snape and James Potter. I also would've appreciated a courtesy mention of the locket, seeing as how it's on the cover of the adult UK edition of Book 7. I also agree with my friend proftlb about certain things the movie changed for no apparent reason, such as the stated "Avada kedavra" from Bellatrix. That could be a very significant change. They also changed Sirius' last words to "Nice one, James!" for no clear reason. Specifically:
Harry saw Sirius duck Bellatrix's jet of red light: He was laughing at her. "Come on, you can do better than that!" he yelled, his voice echoing around the cavernous room. The second jet of light hit him squarely in the chest.
Like her, I don't mind cutting where necessary. I mind adding things that could have been filmed as they were from the book without adding any screen time, and I particularly object to changes made for no apparent reason at all.
- Emma Watson is still pretty one-note as Hermione. I'm not saying that they should get rid of her or recast her, it's far too late for that. It's just that her co-stars are outshining her pretty noticeably.
- They needed to give Draco more than five minutes on screen, given his significance in Book 6. Seriously, he was barely there. It was almost like "I think that's the back of Tom Felton's head in the far right of the screen, but I can't be sure."
- Neville's there-but-for-Voldemort-go-I status in relation to Harry is, to me, one of the most interesting literary bits that Rowling has done in the novels. It makes things just a bit richer that, unlike so many messiah tales, it could've just as easily been someone else. It wasn't, and I'm not expecting anything remarkable from Neville, it just adds more dimension to the characters. Unfortunately, there's not a whit of this in the movie.
- I am sorry, but I thought Grawp looked just horrible as a special effect, and I'm normally one of the people who's most oblivious to that sort of thing. However, I've seen Claymation that looked better than he did. I was also a mite disappointed in the thestrals: oh, they looked great ... except for their color. They looked brown in some scenes; my husband agreed. It's a minor thing, but they're supposed to be solid black.
It wasn't awful. Like I say, there was a lot about it that I just loved. Even after writing all this, I still feel conflicted enough between the parts I liked and the disappointment that it's hard to say ultimately whether I liked it or not. I wasn't as disappointed by it as I was by Azkaban.
There are those who will vehemently disagree with me, but I think that Goblet of Fire has been the best compromise between text and film for the series so far, and I wish they'd bring Mike Newell back.