HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
**** (out of 5)
November 18, 2005
Daniel Radcliffe as HARRY POTTER
Rupert Grint as RON WEASLEY
Emma Watson as HERMIONE GRANGER
Brendan Gleeson as MAD-EYE MOODY
Michael Gambon as PROFESSOR DUMBLEDORE
Robert Pattinson as CEDERIC DIGGORY
Stanislav Ivanevski as VIKTOR KRUM
Miranda Richardson as RITA SKEETER
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Mike Newell
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” had any significant impact on me, it just reinforced the fact that I really don’t like Chris Columbus as a director.
You may be asking yourself, Chris Columbus? What did he have to do with this film? The answer is NOTHING, and that’s what I liked so much about it. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is much more like its predecessor “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” than it is the first two film. It retains the dark, ominous feel of the third film, and it’s cinematically brilliant.
I must be honest: I was leery of Mike Newell as the director. After all, with “Mona Lisa Smile” as his most recent film, I was afraid we’d end up with a weepy and wimpy version of Harry. But Newell stepped up to the plate and sails it out of the park. In fact, “Goblet of Fire” might even more visually stimulating than “Azkaban.”
The film opens with a dream about Lord Voldemort, that dastardly villain we never got much of in the third film. It seems that the dark lord is still trying to regain his human form and wrestle control of the wizarding world. Trust me, although Valdemort is a bad guy, this is a good thing for movie audiences. He’s set up to be the new Darth Vader of pop culture.
Before Harry embarks on his fourth year at Hogwarts, we follow him to a world quidditch match, only to see it broken up by Voldemort’s followers. It was a great way to start the film. When the kids reach Hogwarts, we are introduced to new foreign exchange students – the beautiful French girls and the pumped-up Bulgarian boys.
School is less of a focus in this episode because everyone is obsessing about the Tri-Wizard Tournament. The older students are invited to toss their name in the Goblet of Fire, which will choose three champions. Three students are chosen to compete and face deathly challenges. However, the Goblet of Fire also chooses Harry Potter. This causes him both pain (because many thought he cheated to get in the match) and glory (because he is, after all, Harry Potter).
The biggest problem I had with this film is that it really had a lot to deal with in terms of story and character development. At its heart is Harry’s story, but the filmmakers just couldn’t ignore Ron and Hermione. Their parts are reduced to supporting characters, though, and it does cause some scenes that aren’t terribly pertinent to the underlying plot.
My wife has read the books religiously, but I have not. She has told me that there was a lot left out, and I’ve heard that complaint from other fans of the book series. However, the story seemed fine to me. But I do see their point. The first three books were relatively short, but the fourth was much longer by a factor of two. It’s no wonder that so much was removed.
However, I have no complaints about story compression because I never read the book. Overall, the world of Hogwarts still makes perfect sense to me. My only real complaint is that it focused too much on wizard sports. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m not a huge sports fan myself, but in many ways, this turned into a wizard version of “Varsity Blues.”
The adult wizards all shift places and order in this film. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) still has a meaty part, but the other teachers take a back seat to the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher Mad-Eye Moody (expertly played by Brendan Gleeson).
Overall, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is an excellent film, and Mike Newell has continued to take the franchise in the right direction. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for the new guy, British TV directory David Yates, when “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” comes out in 2007.