Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Directed by Mike Newell, 2005
"Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire" is truly a wonderful film. The Harry Potter magic really comes to life in this action packed fourth film in the series.
Not a dull moment
Although "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire" doesn’t have the same artistic value as its predecessor ("Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban"), it is still just as good. It is directed by Mike Newell – mostly known for his 1990s films "Four Weddings and A Funeral", "Donnie Brasco" and my own favourite "An Awfully Big Adventure" – and he leaves you no time to breathe. Although the film, which goes for 150 minutes, is one of the longest in the series, it feels much shorter, as there isn’t a dull moment.
Newell skips the usual intro with Harry living with the Dursleys and leaps straight into the plot with a nightmare scene followed by the story of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the familiar surroundings of The Burrow; the magical home of the Weasley family.
This year the Hogwarts school hosts a Triwizard Tournament and welcomes young wizards and witches from the magic schools of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. Harry finds himself the reluctant fourth combatant in the tournament, while the evil Lord Voldemort plots his own return as well as Harry’s death.
HP4 jumps from highlight to super magic highlight. From the Quidditch World Cup over the arrival of the guests from the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang schools to the Yule Ball and the three magical tasks of the tournament. Of course a lot of things from the book have been altered – notice for instance how in the film Beauxbatons is an all girl school and Durmstrang an all boy school, whereas in the books they are co-ed – but you’ll find, that you don’t really care. The film is just too exciting to worry about things like that.
"Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire" emphasises the young cast instead of the adult and it does a world of good for the film.
As usual Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley delivers the goods. The tall, ginger lad with the endearing breaking voice masters everything: he’s funny, mean, jealous, sensitive, hurt. Brilliant. This is truly his film. His older brothers, the twins Fred (James Phelps) and George (Oliver Phelps), lend the film cool wit, sporting their new, long, rock star hair and Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom has matured a lot and is no longer the class clown. He shows a wide range of emotions, which is very becoming and the film lets him play a much bigger part than the book allowed him to do.
Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter on the other hand is a bit of a blank canvas. Young Radcliffe is caught between HP3’s rebellious Harry Potter and HP1 & 2’s goody two-shoes hero. Only in the more "sensual" scenes such as in the Prefects’ Bath and when he talks to Hermione about her admirer being physical, does he shine; showinga cheeky, ironic side that suits him well.
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger is unfortunately worse than ever. Her reactions and lines seem more phoney than ever. Totally over the top. But of course she is prettier than ever, too!
I’m not impressed with Harry’s fellow Triwizard Tournament combatants, either. Stanislav Ianevski as the sombre and stupid Victor Krum, Clémence Poésy as the snooty and inadequate Fleur Delacour and Robert Pattinson as the typical pretty-faced teen idol all seem to have only one string to play. At least Robert Pattinson seems embarrassed about it!
Of the adult cast Ralph Fiennes is unpleasantly good as the snakelike Lord Voldemort and Miranda Richardson is brilliant as the horrible reporter Rita Skeeter. Roger Lloyd-Pack as the pedantic Barty Crouch and Robert Hardy repeating his role as the incompetent Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge suit their parts so well. And of course Brendan Gleeson is perfect as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Alistor Moody, mad and scary with a magic eye.
The film offers short but welcome glimpses of Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle), Alan Rickman (Professor Snape) and Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy). Whenever I’ve seen Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy I’ve thought to myself, "Wow, this guy ought to play Captain Hook!" And he has, hasn’t he? In the 2003 Australian version of "Peter Pan". And his portrait of Lucius Malfoy is just as strong. Alan Rickman has played Hook as well and just as good. In Mike Newell’s "An Awfully Big Adventure", actually! As for Shirley Henderson she’s brilliant as Myrtle although it still seems more than dodgy to see a flirty Myrtle 24 years older than the naked teenage Potter in the Prefects’ Bath.
So far this is probably the best of the HP films in the way that it’ll appeal to everyone. It is truly magic and not as scary as the book. Harry’s confrontation with Voldemort was a bit nauseating in the book, but the violence and torture haven’t translated that grossly to the film. Still it’s pretty dark and not for young children, but without losing its enchanting feel.
Most of all, the story is back with the young protagonists and their lives at Hogwarts, and this time with an easy to follow plot! The magic of the boarding school comes to life and Newell has understood that what intrigues the young audience/fans are the young characters and the cast who plays those characters. Well done, Mr. Newell and all you young actors! We wanna see more!
Four out of five stars: ****
@ Lise Lyng Falkenberg, 2005