But before I get into why the movie rules, let me get some of the problems out of the way first...
Although this isn't really a fault of the filmmakers, but rather an issue of dealing with the book's very long length, the movie seems to really have a problem with choppiness. Many scenes feel like they have been reduced to mere sound bites. Personally, I think they made the right choice by not expanding the movie to three hours (and all you "But it doesn't follow the book!!!" people can suck on that - the editing had to be done somewhere).
The only real problem I had with this movie involved the challenges. They were by far my favorite sections of the film, but considering the movie runs a solid two and a half hours, I was surprised how fast they went by (not to mention they outright altered my favorite aspects of the third challenge - and yes, I know I'm being hypocritical regarding my earlier points). Maybe, to make more time for the challenges, the filmmakers could've cut down bits from the Yule Ball section (which I found only mildly entertaining). Had they done that, I'd be 100% happy.
Despite the movie's noticeable flaws, it still manages to pack quite an excellent punch. Almost everything that was great about the first three movies is still evident here (note the "almost"), which is why I have decided to not just repeat what was good about those. If you've seen the past installment, you already know what you like, so I'm just going to say this: expect more of the same Potter goodness. So with that, here are some of the series' newest additions of goodies... in bullet form! (Yes, I know I excite easily)
- It's much darker, and more adult-friendly.
- Gleeson rules as MadEye Moody! And so does Richardson as Rita Skeeter (sure, she has a smaller part than in the book, but she's still hilariously evil).
- The whole "teen angst" element is handled extremely well. The characters really do seem to be changing as they grow older (in more than just looks), which I find quite fascinating.
- We finally get to see the "dark lord"... and he's one mean looking mother f*cker. Major props go to Ralph Fiennes for pulling it off.
- It has dragons and evil mermaids. You heard me. F*cking dragons and evil mermaids, baby!
The extras are spread across four different menu selections...
Additional Scenes (10:08): There are 8 scenes in total, all played at once. Any true fan of the series will be a little disappointed by these, as there's nothing in the way of cool stuff that was cut from the book. Still, the scenes are entertaining and worth a look.
Preparing for the Yule Ball (9:03): I found this almost more entertaining than the actual scene it deals with. We get to see all the kids go through the motions to practice dancing and such. What I found especially amusing was that Daniel Radcliffe had a real problem figuring out the dancing (his schedule was packed), and then they just translated that to screen.
Conversations with the Cast (30:33): This extra starts of nicely enough, allowing us to hear a pleasant interview with three main youngsters from the series (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint), but unfortunately, the interviewer asks some really strange and stupid questions that almost makes the thing worth skipping altogether. It changes pace at the 20-minute mark, when five kids who won a contest start talking to the trio.
Reflections on the Fourth Film (14:12):
Also included is the Theatrical Trailer.
Triwizard Tournament: Dragon, Lake, and Maze Challenges: This extra is a three-part game that appears in all three of the "challenge" menu screens (but I'm only going to mention it here). They all follow along the lines of having you click the direction you need to go, or escape, or attack, and so on. Good for keeping the youngsters busy.
Harry vs. the Horntail: The First Task (6:08): A short but interesting featurette that deals with the first challenge of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Some of it feels very promo-ish, but there's also some quality behind-the-scenes info involving the CGI, stunts, and other such things.
Meet the Champions (13:03): This featurette gives us a nifty look at a what a day on the set of a Harry Potter film is like. We follow the actors who play Cedric, Fleur, and Viktor as they spend about 10 hours waiting around, eating, and getting make-up put on, and then about an hour actually acting. Interesting stuff.
In Too Deep: The Second Task (9:48): Much like the featurette dealing with first Tri-Wizard challenge, this extra gives us a quick but fascinating look at how the underwater scenes were put together. It's amazing how much blue-screen is used for almost everything in the movie.
To the Graveyard and Back Challenge: Another game, not unlike the other "three" games (which actually is just one game with three parts). This could basically be called the final challenge, as it deals with the scene right after the final Tri-Wizard task (I won't say what as to avoid ruining it).
The Maze: The Third Task (6:48): This finishes up the "challenges" featurettes, giving us an interesting (albeit brief) look at how the giant maze was envisioned, created, and then touched-up with special effects. I especially found it cool to watch the young actors have to fake being attacked by non-existent plants.
He Who Must Not Be Named (11:08): Another featurette, this time involving the transfer from page-to-screen of Voldemort's character. Very cool.
Speaking of the movies getting darker... At this rate, by the time the seventh movie is released, it's going to have a hard R-rating. Probably for, "... pervasive strong brutal violence and language, sexuality and drug content." And by "sexuality", I'm referring to Emma Watson's nude scene. Hey, a fan-boy can dream, can't he?