Mon 5 Dec 2005
That smirk says I’m going to jail for what I just thought.
The fourth installment in the series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is a turning point in this mega-franchise, as the storyline and characters begin to take a dark turn and head into more adult territory, attempting for the first time to leave the kids at home, so to speak.
Though, of course, that isn’t to say this film won’t attract a gazillion of pint-sized future leaders of the world. However, if your particular rug rat is under 13, I might keep him or her securely tied up in the closet. Director Mike Newell was not shy about expressing the grim tone of this chapter in the lives of the titular Harry Potter and his friends. Right from the beginning, the atmosphere is dark and foreboding, the plot sinister and skewed much more for adults.
Let me preface the rest of this review by saying that I have not read any of the books, nor will I until the full series has been brought to the screen. I am a firm believer that the book is better than the film 95% of the time. As such, and the better considering this is a movie review, I can only comment on the film and do not know what was left out or interpreted differently for the sake of making the movie work better.
Back to the review, and as said before, Harry, Hermione and Ron are all back. I am so thankful that the filmmakers have committed to using the same actors as the series progresses. It allows us to see these characters grow up completely and not just in spurts, like with George Lucas’ idiotic Anakin Skywalker actor choices.
While the producers need to make sure they can keep the filming of each movie as close together as possible to keep the actors from growing so old it’ll be like 90210 by the last film, I would still prefer the same 23 year old actor portraying an eighteen year old character than a new eighteen year old actor filling their shoes.
In the film, the big bad evil Lord Voldemort is trying to rise again from the dead and is played nicely by Ralph Fiennes. Once again, it’s up to Harry and his friends to do what they can to stop this from happening. All the while, there is a competition between Harry’s school and two other wizard schools going on in the background.
This helps keep the action moving and I thought the 2 and 1/2 hour runtime was almost too short as I’m sure more fun details from the book could have been thrown in without making the extra minutes seem too long.
Assisting Harry as always are his teachers at Hogwarts Academy, played by Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman. Brendan Gleeson is introduced as the new teacher in the defense of the dark arts and Gary Oldman returns as the godfather of Harry.
Add in Warwick Davis as another professor at Hogwarts, who unfortunately has yet to feature prominently in the series, and you have one amazing cast. All of them do their job brilliantly and help make this fantastic and magical world seem as real as it possibly could.
To that end, the effects in this film are outstanding. Aside from the Quidditch World Cup scene, which felt like a rushed CGI order, the environments, spells and creatures are done wonderfully. Unlike so many other films these days, I didn’t spend much time thinking about how they used the computers and digital effects. I was able to stick with the events in front of me and stayed in the world of Harry Potter.
While some elements of the series are beginning to frustrate me, like the complications of a new defense of the dark arts teacher each film, I am continually surprised by how each film only seems to draw me in more. The plotline, actors, and filmmakers are getting this right and giving audiences what we want. “Goblet of Fire” is a good movie all on its own, but it should be obvious that the Harry Potter experience is only deepened by knowing all of the previous films. The layering effect that is created is really beginning to show.
While directors seem to be hard to keep (David Yates is helming the next one which is slated for a 2007 release), this franchise has made a believer in me. I am eagerly awaiting both the rest of this series and for Emma Watson to turn 18 because right now, I just feel like the dirty old man I am.
I’m giving “Goblet of Fire” a 4 out of 5. A swig of chuck pucker, away from the prying eyes of children, will keep you in good spirits as the film attempts to paint a very murky picture of the future for Harry and his friends. If you are a fan of this series, you’ve already seen this and this review will only prompt you for a return. If you have been staying away because of the hype and target audience, do yourself a favor and go rent the first three and check this one out afterwards. You’ll be happy you did.