Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor ‘Mad­Eye’ Moody
Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory
Clémence Poésy as Fleur Delacour
Stanislav Ianevski as Viktor Krum
Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Shirley Henderson as Moaning Myrtle
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Timothy Spall as Wormtail
David Tennant as Barty Crouch Junior
Mark Williams as Arthur Weasley
James Phelps as Fred Weasley
Oliver Phelps as George Weasley
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Katie Leung as Cho Chang
Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Frances de la Tour as Madame Olympe Maxime
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

Summary:
While “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” doesn’t offer any unique touches like the previous sequel, it does feature some great performances, young romance, and spectacular action scenes that make it a solid entry into the franchise.

Story:
This is the fourth film in the “Harry Potter” series.

Shortly before starting their fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry, Hermione, and Ron attend the Quidditch World Cup. However, the festivities are soon broken up by the Death Eaters, a group of wizards and witches loyal to the evil Lord Voldemort. They frighten the magical world and foreshadow the return of their wicked master, an event confirmed by Harry’s recent nightmares.

Upon returning to Hogwarts, the students learn that they are to host the Tri-Wizard Tournament. It’s a wizard competition between Hogwarts and two other international wizard schools. It is so dangerous that only the older students are allowed to participate. However, as the three names are selected, Harry Potter’s name is also selected despite the fact that he didn’t enter. Outmatched and unprepared, Harry finds himself thrown into the dangerous game. It doesn’t help matters that his forbidden entry earns him the scorn of Ron and his fellow Hogwarts students.

But as Harry performs well in the competition (with the help of the new professor named ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody) he finds himself the object of romance among the Hogwarts girls. Will fame and love keep him from realizing that he’s being manipulated in the game? And how does his entry into the Tri-Wizard tournament play into the return of Lord Voldemort?

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.

What Worked:
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is yet another solid entry into the “Harry Potter” franchise. I didn’t think it was possible, but they condensed the 700-page book into a good 2-½ hour movie. I have to admit that I read the book a few years ago and forgot many of the details of the story, but the heart of the tale is still here and the movie remains faithful to that. The most notable thing removed is Hermione’s campaign to treat the house elves better and that has little bearing on the core story.

Each “Harry Potter” film has a few things that make it particularly memorable and “Goblet of Fire” is no exception. Years down the road I’ll remember this movie for four main scenes. The first is the dragon challenge in the Tri Wizard tournament. The dragon effects are spectacular and the scene where Harry Potter tries to fly and escape it is as exciting as any action scene in any movie this year. They really came up with a nice design on the dragon. The second scene I’ll really remember is the underwater challenge where Potter faces off with the Mer-People. They gave mermaids a horrific new design and a unique shark-like tail. The final result is a great effects-filled scene that is quite intense.

The third scene in the film that I’ll really remember is the ballroom scene. It’s the first time in the series that romance really comes into play and the young love between all the characters was well played. The awkwardness between the boys and girls was spot on with an added twist of magic. There was just the right mix of comedy and romance. It was also interesting to see both a formal dance and a rock band from the wizard world back to back with each other. After all, these are teenagers.

The final scene that really stayed with me is Harry’s confrontation with Lord Voldemort played by Ralph Fiennes. He’s in the film less that 10 minutes, but he’s absolutely chilling the entire time. Through makeup and some CGI, he has no nose and the effect is incredibly eerie. But it’s his performance that really leaves an impact. He absolutely oozes villainy and you start to believe he could take on Darth Vader for “bad guy of 2005″. Casting Fiennes was really brilliant and I look forward to seeing him more in the series.

As for the rest of the cast, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint all return again in fine form. If you compare their performances now to those of the first film the difference is amazing. It’s really strange to see them grow up on screen. Michael Gambon returns as Albus Dumbledore and I have to say that this is the liveliest I’ve ever seen the character. He jumps around, yells loudly, dances, and even shoves Harry at one point into some stuff in his office. Alan Rickman also returns as Severus Snape. He’s barely in the movie, but when he does appear he does steal the show in a scene with no dialogue from him. Among the new cast members, Brendan Gleeson is a real stand-out as Alastor ‘Mad­Eye’ Moody. Leave it to Gleeson to pull off playing a crazy character with a comically large eye as someone that is sympathetic and likable.

What Didn’t Work:
As much as I enjoyed the film, I had a few minor nitpicks. First of all, director Mike Newell did a good job, but he didn’t leave quite the imprint on the Potter franchise that previous director Alfonso Cuarón did. Cuarón gave Harry Potter 3 a darker tone and he showed new corners of Hogwarts that were previously unseen. By contrast, this film much more resembles the lighter tone of the previous two movies and no new locations are really explored (except for the underwater realm). I think Newell lost the opportunity to do something new.

There were also a few cringe-worthy moments. When Fleur Delacour and her fellow French students enter Hogwarts, they do this silly little dance and sighing that comes across as a bit odd. There’s also a scene where Moaning Myrtle flirts with Harry while he’s in the bathtub. It’s funny at first but drags on for an uncomfortable amount of time to the point of being creepy. Also, when Voldemort is first shown, he’s a withered up, freaky looking baby-thing that looks like a bad rubber puppet. It really hurts any intimidation built up by the character up to that point. Fortunately Fiennes quickly makes you forget it. There are other moments here and there, but overall it’s forgivable.

Parents of young kids will also want to heed the PG-13 rating. The movie is quite intense at times. It plays on basic fears like drowning, falling from heights, getting stabbed, and monsters. Unless you’re ready to send the kids to therapy for nightmares, you might save this one for them until they’re older. There’s a bit of language, too, that you probably don’t want them repeating.

The Bottom Line:
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is sure to please both young and old Harry Potter fans.

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