November 2005


You read right.

Goodbye beer and soda. Hello Gatorade and sport drinks; Goodbye sweets and carbs. Hello grains and protein.

What gives?

Hav'ta shed the beer belly and tone up for next year's wedding.

Serious. For real. No kidding (OK, I get the drift… I am convinced!).

To my fitness buff-slash-guru friend Michael, yes, the dormant six-pack challenge is officially on (again!?!).

To my fiancee, yes, more washboard abs and less love handles for, well, you know what.

To my grade school bully, watch out!

To myself… good luck! 

One of the disadvantages of satisfying one’s habit of reading (and reading some more) is the constant craving to see a story and its characters come to life on silverscreen. Once one is under works, readers (the rabid, avid ones, especially) get intense, emotional, and all-too-giddy in anticipation. Armed with high expectations, come screening day, they are usually the extremely critical ones on how the film adaptation fared. They are dead-serious and unforgiving about details and nuances richly told yet absent in film; they cry ‘injustice!’ and shout ‘rip-off!’ all too easy on such occasions.

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter book series is no different.Catching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on its midnight premiere yesterday, I find the film flaccid, faulty, and flawed.

Sure, the cinematography is superb as Cuaron’s Prisoner of Azkaban. Its near-noir quality makes the dark, tragic, and foreboding premise of the dark Lord and his reign’s return a welcome treat, like Rodriguez' adaptation of Frank Millers' Sin City. Sure, the special effects weave the real with the surreal (the Horn-tail dragon looks menacingly dangerous), thus satisfying one's delusion that Hogwarts exists in a parallel universe. And sure, Voldermort looks eerily scary and ghoulishly grim and demonic, like Freddie Krueger of 1665 Elm Street.

The acclaim stops there.

Newell's Goblet Of Fire is a decapitation of Rowling's finest Harry Potter novel (until Book 7's release). Ah, where to even begin? OK, first off, the International Quidditch match barely lasts 2 minutes without the much-awaited Veelas (come on, weren't you keenly curious how they would live up to Rowling's pretty and sexy description of the Bulgarian bunch?). Two, Winky the elf is peculiarly absent. Three, character miscasts: Mad Eye Moody is supposed to be short and frail with a wooden leg and a face that 'looked as though it had been carved out of weathered wood by someone who had only the vaguest idea of what human faces are supposed to look like, and was none too skilled with a chisel' — not round, tall, steel-legged, and pomp; But the greatest miscast and murder of all is Albus Dumbledore. Richard Harris' untimely death is a big loss to the film franchise. The new one (Michael Gambon) is anyone BUT Dumbledore. He doesn't personify the calm and collected Dumbledore; unsymphatetic and uncaring to Harry; and appears unwise in the affairs of Hogwarts and the non-Muggle world.

Of course there are more. Hermione's brilliance is overlooked. The film fails to emphasize Hermione's uncovering Rita Skeeter's animagus-of-a-secret (Skeeter being essential in the Order of the Phoenix). And the Maze! No Sphinx, no blast-ended skrewts, no boggarts. What a misadventure that task is!

The popular conjecture is Newell has only read Book 4 and not the entire series as his interpretation (and murder) of events is highly suspect.

Again, the disadvantage of reading a book is having high expectations of the film adaptation. And in the case of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the expectations are not met… not even close. But of course, being Harry Potter fans, G and I are sure to watch it again (and probably again).