The exhilarating Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire takes the best parts of J.K. Rowling's fourth installment and serves them up in one heck of an action-packed, albeit darker, film. Parents, be forewarned--this isn't kid's stuff anymore.
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) looks forward to a little peace of mind in his fourth year at Hogwarts. Alas, it's not meant to be. Hogwarts is hosting the Triwizard Tournament, in which one champion from three prestigious wizarding schools competes in a series of life-threatening tasks. As the three competitors are chosen by the enchanted Goblet of Fire, it inexplicably spits out one final name. Guess who? Someone is obviously setting up Harry. His friends and professors try to help him, but Harry is pretty much on his own. Yet, as he edges closer to the Triwizard Cup, nothing can prepare the boy wizard for the ultimate confrontation with pure evil. That's right, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is back, and boy, is he pissed. Dark and difficult times do indeed lie ahead.
There's a wonderful familiarity with the characters that keeps getting stronger with each film. The kids--Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson--are finally comfortable in their characters' skin. Although they still have trouble hitting those dramatic notes, their adolescent camaraderie is genuine. With the new characters, the casting is once again impeccable. The Harry Potter movies have become a great way for prominent British actors to pocket a little extra change. Brendan Gleeson (Troy) is blusteringly hilarious as Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, the new unconventional Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, while Miranda Richardson (The Hours) is aptly persnickety as the nosy tabloid-esque reporter Rita Skeeter. And then there's Fiennes, playing the Dark Lord with exquisite maliciousness. Can't wait to see what he'll do with the role in future installments.
Poor Mike Newell. Apparently, producer David Heyman originally wanted the British director--known for helming smaller, more intimate fare such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Donnie Brasco--to direct the first film, The Sorcerers Stone. Newell had to pass at the time, and instead waited until he was offered one of the most complicated of the Harry Potter novels. Oh well, no harm done. Newell handles the spectacular special effects with style (with some help, no doubt) and adds to the franchise for the first time oh-so-veddy British sensibilities. He wanted to give audiences a taste of what a British boarding school is really like, even a school that teaches wizardry and witchcraft. Goblet of Fire is full of little eccentricities, especially between the professors, that keeps the magical spirit going in between all the action.
Hollywood.com rated this film 4 stars.
Copyright © CinemaSource 2006.
It's catch-up time for those who only ingest their Harry Potter on screen. While author JK Rowling released her sixth book earlier this year, cinema goers are a little bit behind, this being the wizard's fourth adventure - and his first since passing through childhood.
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are growing up and facing more dangerous adventures. No longer fighting giant spiders and trolls in the toilet, the plot hinges on the Tri-Wizarding tournament. The international cream of the crop of uber-talented young wizards, compete against each other to lift the trophy. Harry, being the best wizard Hogwarts school has seen for many years, is his country's obvious choice. But, not only does he compete against the best of the rest, he's also faced with tackling his personal demons once more.
As well as old favourites such as Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), new faces are also introduced with Ralph Fiennes taking up the role of evil Lord Voldemort, and Brandon Gleeson becoming Mad Eye Moody. The only downside is that the Dursleys don't feature.
Forget that twaddle about the actors possibly being too old for their parts. The characters themselves are getting older, much to the dismay of some parents who want Harry (and their own children, for that matter) to remain young and innocent. However, this makes the whole big screen Potter experience more palpable, with grittier performances from all involved, outstripping the somewhat whiney stage-school acting that blighted the first two films.
Dark and mystical with the cinematography, as ever, breathtaking. Director Mike Newell, on his first Potter effort, follows the book closely, for which true fans will be grateful. And geeks will appreciate the improvement in the special effects department, particularly the spellbinding scenes with dragons.
Copyright © MRIB 2005.