May 31, 2015

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)


Alfonso Cuarón's Prisoner of Azkaban was the first Harry Potter film of the series to stand on its own two feet. It captured the spirit of the books and it felt a lot more character-based than Philosopher's Stone or Chamber of Secrets. That's not to say that the first two movies aren't enjoyable, because they are. PoA is simply a maturation for the series and it was clear that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had to find a way to continue what made Prisoner so good. With Cuarón stepping down though, it wasn't going to be easy.

Enter Mike Newell who kind of surprisingly became the first British director of the series. Mostly known for Four Weddings and a Funeral, he was far from a poor choice and had experience working with young actors. Screenwriter Steve Kloves probably had one of the mot difficult jobs out of everyone though since he had to find a way to adapt J.K. Rowling's 636 page monster into something coherent. Splitting The Goblet of Fire into two movies had understandably been considered even. Where that split would occur couldn't be figured out though and we'd have to wait until The Deathly Hallows before the idea of splitting a book was revisited.

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At a Glance


Genre: adventure, family, fantasy
Directed by: Mike Newell
Produced by: David Heyman , David Barron, Tanya Seghatchian, etc.
Written by: Steve Kloves
Music by: Patrick Doyle
Running time: 157 minutes
Production company: Warner Bros., Heyday Films, Patalex IV Productions Limited
Distributed by: Warner Bros., IMAX, Warner Bros. Entertainment, etc.
Country: United Kingdom, United States
Language: English, French
Budget: $150,000,000
Box office: $896,911,078 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Miranda Richardson, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, Frances de la Tour, Predrag Bjelac, David Tennant, Tom Felton, Robert Pattinson, Stanislav Ianevski, Clémence Poésy, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Jeff Rawle, Robert Hardy, Roger Lloyd Pack, Katie Leung, Matthew Lewis, David Bradley, Devon Murray, Shefali Chowdhury, Afshan Azad, Warwick Davis, Angelica Mandy

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Synopsis


The school year will be starting soon and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is staying at the Weasley's house before attending the Quidditch World Cup match between Ireland and Bulgaria. After the game, the post-match festivities are interrupted by a group of Death Eaters, or followers of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). With the Dark Mark being summoned and visible in the sky, it's clear that things are not well in the wizarding world. Even in death, Voldemort is stirring and his followers are active.


Review


The dark mood of Prisoner of Azkaban continues in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but I wouldn't quite put it on par. For one thing, there seems to be quite a bit more comedy which isn't necessarily a bad thing though. For one thing, the comedy truly works and it definitely gives a nice breather from the fantasy action sequences as well as the darker elements of the story. Fear not though because Goblet of Fire is still shadowy, fog-filled and it certainly doesn't always have the brightest colour palette. Newell paints a world that is still magical despite the danger that's brewing.

There's no shortage of wonderment in Goblet of Fire. There are loads of special effects extravaganzas to the point where it could be considered a little self-indulgent really. Take the arrivals of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang at Hogwarts for example. It's not all that necessary and even a bit cheesy actually. The bottom line is though, it's entertaining. Who doesn't want to see a bunch of Bulgarian school "boys" (they look more like men) doing quarterstaff tricks before finishing off with a bit of break dancing? I know I do.

Besides the more extraneous sideshows, Goblet of Fire features three extended sequences that feature some pretty top notch special effects even to this day. These three sequences are part of the challenges in the Triwizard Tournament with eternal glory waiting for the witch or wizard who wins. The Hungarian horntail scene is absolutely thrilling to watch and is probably my favourite of all three challenges. There's lots of CGI mayhem going on in GoF but at the same time, Newell never loses sight of the fact that he's dealing with real people.

That's because besides all the fantasy action sequences, Goblet of Fire is a bit of a coming-of-age movie as well. Harry is growing up (going through a long hair phase no less) and he's reached the age where he starts to notice that there are girls in Hogwarts. He pretty much falls head over heels for Cho Chang (Katie Leung) of Ravenclaw and has couple of scenes involving her. There's a hearty helping of awkward for everybody, but it feels real and above all it's just cute. It's also pretty clear that there's something there between Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) after this had already been hinted at in Prisoner of Azkaban.

As is usually the case with HP movies, Goblet of Fire brings some very serviceable newcomers. Brenden Gleeson is one of those new arrivals and his scenes are some of my favourite of the film. His costume and makeup look great and Gleeson gets the Mad-Eye Moody act down pat. Miranda Richardson as the deceitful journalist Rita Skeeter is another success, joining the many past successes of the series. Seriously, it's no small feat getting all these pieces to work over the years.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a superb fantasy/adventure movie. It's a little more showy with the special effects compared to Prisoner of Azkaban, but it balances that with a continued focus on the characters. The coming-of-age elements are well done and it's nice to see Radcliffe, Grint and Watson continue to improve their craft. It has its cheesier elements here and there, but one thing that Goblet of Fire never fails in doing is to entertain.

Rating

7.5/10

Related Reviews:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) 
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)