Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire

***1/2

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Well, here's a funny thing. Despite dodging dragons, half drowning and surviving torture, the most intense and human moment in this movie is asking a girl to the ball. Mike Newell's Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire is a slightly frustrating experience, frequently uneven and sporting an anti-climactic finale, even if "nothing is going to be the same again".

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and friends get tickets to the Quidditch World Cup, during which the Death Eaters, followers of the Dark Lord Voldemort, stir up trouble and cause panic like football hooligans. Hogwarts' headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon, settling into the role well, if VERY SHOUTY) also announces that the school will host the Triwizard Tournament, at which champions from three schools will enter a contest involving unknown horror ("People die in these tournaments!" hisses Sirius Black). The Goblet of Fire is the selection McGuffin, belching out the names of those who will compete. Dumbledore catches the scorched parchment and reads the names: Viktor Krum, Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delaceur and Harry Potter...!?

Copy picture

Steven Kloves's adaptation is serviceable, if severely rushed. He takes the major set-pieces and attempts to jam in as many other little moments from the book as possible. If the screenplay had any chance of being as free flowing and entertaining as his previous work on The Prisoner Of Azkaban, I believe there had to more clean lifts from J K Rowling's original to allow the rest of the material to breathe.

The film just doesn't stop, eventually becoming a chore, as we dash from place to place, joining the dots. I would have liked to see SOMETHING of the Quidditch World Cup, for example, but no... Off we go to the post-match riot, involving the Dark Lord's crew. And less than five minutes later, we're at Hogwarts.

The best moments in Alfonso Cuaron's The Prisoner Of Azkaban are the cinematic flourishes that take advantage of the fact that this is a movie and not simply a filmed reading of the book with special effects. The visual wit, the little things that hold your attention - the clock-gears shots, the Whomping Willow shaking during spring, plopping wet snow onto the camera - keep you inside this wondrous wizarding world. There's very little of that here, other than the imaginative pre-Quidditch celebrations. Roger Pratt's cinematography feels placid and uninventive by comparison to Prisoner of Azkaban - although the production design is once again, top notch. The visual effects are impeccable throughout.

As has doubtlessly been noted in every national newspaper across the globe, Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) discover the infinite mysteries of The Opposite Sex. I defy anyone who can remember the humiliation of being tongue-tied and 13 not to cringe as Harry and Ron pluck up the half-courage to ask a girl to the Yule Ball. It's well played by the actors and Newell knows how to let them tell the visual joke. They're easily the best scenes in the film.

Cho Chang (Katie Leung), Harry's secret pash, will be a welcome returnee in the next film. The barking mad Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (a cheerfully hammy Brendan Gleeson) is another positive addition to the character roster, unafraid of dishing out the Unforgivable Curses in a lesson and transfigurating an unruly Malfoy into a ferret.

I liked the performance capture of Ralph Fiennes, as Voldemort. The CG definitely retains the physical appearance of the Dark Lord I imagined from the books, hideous and yet charismatic. The film just about deserves it's 12A rating, due to moderate horror in the finale and a few deaths - the crucial ingredients of a certain rejuvenating potion are horrendous stuff - and isn't afraid of the stuff of nightmares. It's within the ghoulish tolerances and fantasies of an average 10-year-old, even if they may guess the twist in the story early.

This is an entertaining enough movie, although there are missed opportunities lurking throughout and a sincere lack of magic on the screen.

Reviewed on: 17 Nov 2005
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It's darker now and Voldemort is close. Can Harry triumph at the Tri-wizard Tournament and save the world?
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