Written by Steven Kloves
Directed by Mike Newell
Running Time: 2:36
for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.
Another fantastic chapter in the saga, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire lives up to its predecessors and brilliantly continues the travels and travails of Harry Potter and friends.
It is year four at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But first, Harry gets to attend the Quidditch World Cup with Hermione, Ron and his family. It is a huge event that brings in wizards from all over the world. But the event is tempered by the appearance of the Dark Mark, which was used by Lord Voldemort to gather his followers, the Death Eaters. Back at school the new year brings a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Mad-Eye Moody - a former Auror, whose magical eye keeps close watch on everything going on at Hogwarts. Headmaster Dumbledore has his own surprise in store for the school. This year Hogwarts is hosting the prestigious Tri-Wizard tournament, which features contestants from three wizarding schools; Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. One champion from each school will be chosen to compete. Cedric Diggory from Hogwarts; Viktor Krum from Durmstrang; and Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons. But the Goblet of Fire also selects Harry Potter. No one knows how he got chosen, but the rules state he must compete. From dealing with dragons to merpeople to going through a treacherous maze, Harry must fight not only for school glory but ultimately, for his life. Because someone is out to get Harry, and the thing that wizards around the world fear the most may come to pass: Lord Voldemort will rise again.
I am without a doubt, a huge Harry Potter fan. I make no bones about it. I've read each of the books at least four times (except book six, which I've only read twice, but I mean c'mon, it was only released this summer.) I thought Sorcerer's Stone was a faithful adaptation of the first book. I thought Chamber of Secrets was better, even though it is probably my least favorite of the books. And I thought Prisoner of Azkaban was outstanding and the best movie so far. I was worried that with the constant changing of directors, the movies wouldn't feel connected, but my fears have been for nothing, since Alfonso Cuarón brought the vision I had hoped the first two movies would have, and Mike Newell continues down that path with Goblet of Fire. While the first two movies had more of a clean and friendly look, the last two movies have turned darker and more mystical, which makes sense considering the story lines are getting darker and more serious. In Goblet of Fire everyone is hitting that age where girls (and boys) become more important and feelings stir inside that you don't understand. Throw in the fact that everyone is worried someone is out to get Harry, and you've got a lot for the three leads to deal with.
*WARNING - this review will contain some spoilers (but I'll try not to give away too much)*
One of the problems (in a good way) with having read the books numerous times, is that I know when things aren't there, and when things are changed. The first difference comes almost immediately when a character is shown in the first sequence, who is only mentioned in the book. I do however understand why he was shown, since there isn't a narrative to keep him in the minds of the readers. He needs to be shown so that you can recall him later on when he pops up again. I'll admit at first I was worried that this was a precursor to how the rest of the movie would be, but for the most part, the script was faithful to the book. The character of Dobby the house elf was removed completely, and anything he had to do in the book was replaced by another character. Screenwriter Steve Kloves (who has written the first four films, but is taking a break from the fifth movie before coming back for the sixth) knows the story so well that he can easily shift from Dobby saying something to Neville saying something, and have it not only make sense, but still be acceptable to us die hard fans. The major points of the book were in place, save for the Quidditch World Cup, which was compressed into a few minutes. We see the aftermath of the World Cup, we see all three Tri-Wizard tournament challenges and we see the Yule Ball. If you ask any of the Harry Potter faithful, I think we'd all say that those are the biggest set pieces. At the same time, the story line of Mad-Eye Moody is well done, as well as the continuing romance-to-be of Ron and Hermione. So from a book-to-movie point of view, I thought the script was well written and still faithful to the book.
There is no question Goblet of Fire is a darker and more intense movie than any of the past three. Prisoner of Azkaban took the series darker, both story-wise and visually. Goblet of Fire continues that trend and takes it a step further, with some of the fiercest moments in the films so far. The first of the Tri-Wizard challenges involved Harry having to get a golden egg out from the protection of a dragon. The fight was loud and violent and was amazingly done. It was almost poetic the way it was filmed. That was followed by the underwater sequence which was again, beautifully filmed and very forceful in the way it was shown. (Don't read the rest of this paragraph if you don't want to know how the movie ends). Then there was the final challenge, the maze, and the scenes in the graveyard where one of the major characters is killed off. Even though I knew it was coming, it was still a shock. There was no build up to it, it just happened. That is quickly followed by the rebirth of Voldemort, which involves a bone from his dead father, the hand of a servant (Wormtail) and the blood of his enemy (Harry). The sequence is disturbing and likely the reason the film got a PG-13 rating. The entire movie is much more aggressive in nature than the previous three films. Make no mistake, this movie is an adventure film from the start.
At the same time, I thought the movie was also funnier and sweeter than the previous ones. As the kids grow up, their emotions become sharper. The problem with a lot of adventure movies is that when the action dies down, you're taken to scenes where not much happens and sometimes you get bored. But in this case, the 'downtime' scenes were very funny. Watching Harry and Ron try and get dates for the Yule Ball was much funnier in the movie than it was in the book (and that's a rare thing for me to say). Watching Professor Snape constantly beat Ron and Harry on the back of the head was brilliant. Letting underdog Neville finally show his stuff was both funny and touching. He actually got applause any time he did anything because he's such a hangdog you want him to break out of his shell (which us readers knows will happen very soon). And we get to see our three leads all deal with their feelings for the opposite sex. Ron not sure how to deal with Hermione. Hermione not willing to wait for Ron. And poor Harry, having a crush on Cho Chang, but she accepts Cedric's invitation to the ball.
One of the other things I liked about this movie more than the past three, was the use of the 'secondary' characters. The movie boasts such a strong lineup of actors that it's a shame when they don't have much to do. But in this movie, there was a lot for them. Dumbledore was arguably in the movie more than anyone besides Harry. His character has gone from a calm background presence, to a strong and forceful protector (which again, will be shown more in the future). Snape was used much more this time out and I love that because I think Alan Rickman as Severus Snape is the best casting of an actor for a role I've ever seen. And talk about the rest of the cast. Beyond the returning Rickman, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith and Robbie Coltrane, you have the added star power of Brendan Gleeson (as Mad-Eye Moody), Miranda Richardson (as reporter Rita Skeeter) and of course Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort. Fiennes is an inspired choice for the darkest creature this side of Darth Vader. He is almost unrecognizable behind the makeup, yet his essence still pours through and his take on Voldemort is a mixture of slight whimsy and immense power and hate. All of the adult characters are tremendous actors and that helps bring the level of the film up. That is not to say the younger actors aren't good. In fact, they've each improved as the series has gone on. The one thing I've noticed is they now have the ability to hit comedic marks and not make the lines sound forced. Yes, they do look a bit old to be playing 14 year olds, but since we've grown with them over the past few years, I can't imagine anyone else playing the roles.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a fantastic film. I thought it was better than the first two, and on par if not slightly better than the last one. It is most definitely darker in story and in style, and may be frightening for younger children. I think the bottom line is, if you liked the other films, you'll like this one. And if you didn't like the others, still give this one a shot because standing on its own, it's a solid adventure film with a lot of good action sequences and a lot of humor. But either way, once you're done watching the movie, go read the books!
Netflix lets you rent, watch and return DVDs from home – Now from only a month!