I got out for a midnight showing of Goblet of Fire last night. The movie was damned good. The experience could've been better. As the theater filled, the guy two seats away was saving the seat between us for a friend that was meeting him there. Okay, no problem. Except the friend (and it appears, boyfriend at that) was fat and needed a shower. Badly. And they both had a propensity to talk during the movie. Thank God that's a union that won't produce any children.
The cuts to bring that volume down to 150 minutes' running time are huge. No Dursleys, no Molly Weasley, no house elves at all, very little classroom time. Barty Crouch Sr. is played creepily in a way I didn't expect. Draco Malfoy is almost a bit part. I wondered if Alan Rickman was actually getting paid scale for this film until past the halfway point, because he never spoke until then. The atmosphere in the school is just a bit more brutal, attributable to director Mike Newell actually having attended British boarding schools, and knowing how their inmates actually behave. I'm quite happy with it, knowing full well that an uncut script would probably run at least five hours. Some elements that will be important for Order of the Phoenix were cut, but they're things that can easily be accounted for in a line of expository dialogue. The end was more upbeat than I expected, but maybe the end of the book is open to more interpretation than I thought. The death and wake scenes are appropriately shocking and sad, but then it picks up a bit as they all head home. I expected an ending more like "Chrysalis", the first season finale of Babylon 5 where the President is assassinated. Everybody still stunned, with perpetual "oh shit" looks on their faces.
My only galling nitpick is the continued use of expelliarmus as an incapacitating spell. All it's supposed to do is disarm. Stupefy incapacitates (and they use it at one point, so they know that!) Of course, I was unhappy with the dueling scenes in Prisoner of Azkaban, because the only effects any of those spells had (save Malfoy's snake summoning curse) was to knock you on your ass. It would've been much cooler to see Draco trying to counterattack while wracked with laughter from Harry's rictusempra (I think I have that right...) than to just pick himself up off the ground.