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
Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for his fourth year of schooling, and soon finds himself participating in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, with a chance for eternal glory or gruesome death. As the dangers and intrigues mount, those closest to Harry become more and more concerned for his safety, and the possibility that this is all just a part of Voldemort’s most recent plot.
The fourth “Harry Potter” installment, like the book it is adapted from, is the richest to date and also the darkest, concerning itself as it does with the gradual movement from childhood to adulthood and the unfortunate realizations that are a part of growing up.
The production design is first rate – the best of all of the films so far – straddling that fine line between reality and fairy tale that has made “Harry Potter” so popular.
It is the richest in plot as Harry finds himself involuntarily taking part in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and the three death defying tasks that entails. The three tasks are distinctive and dynamic and thrilling. Piled on top of this are somewhat standard school coming of age problems that everyone must face – in this case the first school and dance and the resultant first intuition that boys and girls are different in a good way, something Harry (like most boys) finds more frightening than any dragon.
The extremely detailed plot is also the film’s biggest weakness. Quite a bit had to be jettisoned (as any fan of the books will tell you) in order to fit it into two and a half hours, but it is still extremely dense, moving quickly from point to point, which often makes it difficult to find a place for solid character moments or to give them time to sink in, so busy is it to rush to the next important point. It could really do with some more breathing room. It also means that many of the supporting characters, including Alan Rickman’s Snape and even Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) himself, are pushed more and more into the background.
The performances of the three leads continues to mature as they do. In particular, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger comes into her own extremely well as she moves between her concern and fear over Harry’s (Daniel Radcliffe) well being and her growing romance with Ron (Rupert Grint). Another year also means another Dark Arts professor, and this time Brendan Gleeson jumps into the fray as the slightly crazed former Auror ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody, who tries to guide Harry through the dangers of the tournament. Gleeson is a delight as the blackly comic Moody, bouncing easily from lighted heartedness to the darkest of emotions. Most impressive of all the supporting cast – even more so with his relatively short time on screen – is Ralph Fiennes as the returned Lord Voldemort. His rebirth is suitable Goethesque, and Fiennes plays him with a unique combination of physical mania and utter calmness.
It is an extremely intense film and not one entirely suitable for younger viewers who are just happening upon the franchise, but it is easily the best Harry Potter film so far.