Thursday, January 7, 2010
I'm pleased to finally be able to write this review. 17 discs is a pretty long haul, especially when we only listened to it in the car, and only when all three of us were in the car, and only when we didn't have some sort of drama to discuss (alot of those recently). It was worth it, however. Terrifying, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, with a few hormones thrown in just to prevent tears. From here on out in Harry's journey, you must remain buckled securely, remove all loose articles from your person, and find a safe place to hide for the remainder of the series. It's getting ugly.
The party is essentially over at Hogwarts. The dark mark is cast into the sky, indicating a call to all followers of Lord Voldemort to prepare themselves for his return. Someone secretly enters Harry's name into the Goblet of Fire, ensuring his participation in the dangerous Tri-Wizard Tournament, perhaps with his death being the end game. He must battle against dragons, sea creatures, Blast-Ended Scroots, his first crush, a muck-raking reporter, and dark forces determined to get the best of him. Ultimately, he witnesses the re-birth of Voldemort, which ends in a tragedy that will haunt Harry for the rest of his life. Lines are drawn between the Ministry of Magic, who refuses to believe the Dark Lord has returned, and those who know the truth. Armies are being formed on both sides, and the war between good and evil is on the horizon like a big black cloud.
It is with this book that we see a serious departure between the written word and the movie. Entire plotlines are disregarded, understandably to keep the movie from becoming a four-hour behemoth. Rowling's political views also start to peek through, with a bit of time spent on racial biases and inequities between humans and other "species". There are definitely less than subtle messages planted amongst the magic and the mayhem. My only criticism, which I didn't really have with the hard book itself, was that the audio felt a little longer than it needed to be. There seemed to be some extraneous detail. I'm not sure if audio naturally highlights these faults, or it was the circumstances in which we were listening.
The narration by Jim Dale continues to thoroughly entertain. Mr. Dale rips through the voices and the dialogue with such ease and familiarity, it sounds like it is totally second nature for the guy (it probably IS at this point). Not only does he have the comedic timing that keeps us laughing, he can narrate a grieving parent in the same breath that is so painful it is uncomfortable to listen to. This series wouldn't be the same without his voice.
4.5 out of 5 stars