“Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire” Clicks on almost all Cylinders. Michelle’s Review!!

Harry Potter returns in his most thrilling year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft yet. This time out the Potter gang is 14 and facing the ultimate danger – braving the “girl pack” to find a date for the big dance. Warning – this review is written with the assumption that you’ve read the book!!!

This is the rare film franchise that gets better with each and every outing. We all thought there was no way to surpass last year’s excellent “Prisoner of Azkaban,” but director Mike Newell and the cast and crew have done it. Everything is almost flawless from the dark tone and look of the film to the acting, to the set design.

The one thing “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire” lacks is a strong film score. John Williams who scored all of the previous films was replaced by the talent less hack Patrick Doyle whose score is bland, as bland can get. They do keep a couple of Williams’ signature tracks, but even that is radically toned down.

It all starts with screenwriter Steven Kloves excellent script. Kloves managed the nearly impossible task of taking J.K. Rawlings, sprawling, wildly uneven and nearly 800 page book (and also my favorite of the series) and condensed it into a tightly woven, fast paced story. He wisely jettison’s everything that distracts from the primary story. So we don’t get any House Elves, no S.P.E.W., no WWW, No Skeeter/Hermione Feud (more on this later) and other things.

Sure, as a fan of the books, I can quibble about some of these absences, but if I were honest with my readers, I would admit that when I read Goblet of Fire, I myself, have a tendency to skip over these elements as well.

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” you know right away that this will be a pretty dark movie, opens with a shot of skulls and bones, with creepy and dark cinematography. The first few minutes feels rushed, we get a glimpse of Voldemort plotting to destroy Harry Potter, then the film quickly switches to the Quidditch Worldcup, which looks absolutely amazing and brilliant, but then Newell makes the bad decision to skip the actual match, and go straight to the death eaters – Voldemort’s henchmen who love to torture and kill muggles (Non Magic Folk for fun), attack the World Cup village of tents, spreading terror throughout the campsite. This sequence was more intense than it was described in the book and works extremely well.

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Everything about this film just clicks; the cast are not only growing in their roles, they now “inhabit” them. Warner needs to pay whatever it takes to keep this entire cast together. Everyone from the bit players like Neville (Matthew Lewis who gets an expanded role this time around – and who will really get to shine in the next film), the Weasley Twins (James and Jason Phelps) – who, up until now, were not featured at all, Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) and of course the trio – Ron Weasley (Ruppert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe).

Everyone is growing leaps and bound as actors and actresses as the film series progresses. Remember how awful Radcliffe was in the first film? Now he’s assured, and exudes confidence. The same goes with everyone else. The ending of the film really was emotional due largely to Radcliffe, you really feel his pain and despair. The fun of this series is watching everyone grow up on screen and I now have an emotional attachment to everyone. It’s as if they have become part of my film family.

The only character who really bugged me was Michael Gambon’s awful portrayal of the great Albus Dumbledore who comes across, not as a kindly, but powerful and eccentric headmaster, but a malevolent, mean spirited plotter who forces Harry to compete in the dangerous Tri-Wizard tournament as bait. He knows that all of the signs of something sinister is going on, and he’s trying desperately to figure it out, even if that means putting Harry in danger.

Gambon’s performance and Dumbledore’s character is ruined in this. Perhaps that’s for the best because Dumbledore will be a “tool” in the next planned installment “Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix” (which starts filming in February).

Do you miss the things from the book that didn’t make the cut? No, you don’t miss any of the deletions, what you do miss are a few of the setups that the film doesn’t conclude on, like the before mentioned Quidditch World Cup; the setup that was spot on and just how you imagine it, but then skimped on actually showing us the match, or Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson) who appears in two funny scenes, but then disappears. I totally forgot about her until on the drive home when I was like WTF? There was no feud or payoff. If the filmmakers weren’t going to do the entire Hermione/Skeeter feud then she should have left her out all together. The way she was used in the film added nothing to the story.

The Weasley Twins finally get a lot of screen time, but there’s no WWW mentioned, and no getting Harry’s Tri-Wizard money at the end.

One of the more memorable scenes from the book – “The Amazing Bouncing Ferret” was out of sequence and messed up because Ron and Hermione weren’t there, so we don’t get to see their reactions.

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My issue with last year’s Azkaban was that it was a fabulous movie, but an awful adaptation. This year the movie is almost better than the book and it maintains everything that made the book so memorable with minimal changes to the primary story.

One other minor complaint is the film ended on a “happy” note, where the seriousness of Voldemort’s return is downplayed in the mist of happy goodbyes, and joking. It does nothing to set up the next installment – “Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix.”
But Harry’s expression underscores the seriousness of what has happened.

“Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire” is one of those rare films that does it all, and never loses itself along the way. It successfully blends action, adventure, comedy, and mystery together to form an almost perfect film.

Final A+

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 11/18/05

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