More excited than any kid there, I lined up for the new Harry Potter film yesterday (Goblet of Fire). It must be nerve-wracking to one of those pedants, of any age, with every line of dialogue and potion recipe crammed into your brain, sitting and watching and waiting for a directorial slip-up. That way, surely, lies madness and disappointment. There's been much Myrtle-moaning about various characters and sub-plots omitted from the screenplay, but the only essential ingredient missing for me was JK Rowling's wonderfully dry humour, which lights up the books and is often lost in translation to the screen. Key to her success, if you ask me, but funnily enough the pedants often ignore it in plot-obsessed film and book reviews. Chill out, giggle, and be scared. Much more fun.
Goblet of Fire is the best of the series in its special effects, narrative drive, the kids' performances, and the ratty school-like reality that was also a feature of the last. It creates a sense of wonder. Magic.
I'm easily scared, and jumped clear out of my seat a couple of times, having completely forgotten everything that happens in the book. My nine year-old friend Maddie gripped my hand really hard a few times, and admitted afterwards she'd thought it was so "freaky" her legs were shaking. She's going back tomorrow to see it again.
By the way, if you've never seen JK Rowling's website, take a look. It's fascinating, because it's designed specifically for the way kids scan the screen and use their mouse. For people like me who worked on the web for years and get grumpy about usability, it's a lesson in designing for a specific use. Kids run the cursor over everything to find links - their eyes simply don't do what adult eyes do faced with a computer screen - and Rowling's web design team has developed what is arguably the smartest kid-focused index page on the web. Of course.