Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (DVD)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Miranda Richardson, Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane and Hans Gruber.

Directed by Mike Newell.

On the unpatented, untrademarked KJToo Arbitrary 27-point Rating System, I give Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire a 24. The rating is broken down into three categories, each of which can score a maximum of nine points.

  • Theater Experience: 7
    This category is completely unfair to the movie itself, as it represents factors well outside the control of the filmmakers. Nonethless, my ability to enjoy a film on its own merits is often severely impacted by rude moviegoers, so I’m including it. Arbitrary!While the audience was generally well-behaved (no crying babies, no cell phones, no annoying talkers), there seemed to be an awful lot of people exiting and entering the auditorium during the movie. The effect was exacerbated by the fact that Laura and I were seated on the aisle next to all the running around.
  • Visual Wizardry: 9
    Very, very nicely done. Everything about HPatGoF looked fantastic. The sets and scenery were quite lavish, the costumes were superb (though the two words that came to mind when I first saw the hats worn by the girls from Beau-Baton were “reservoir tip”), and the special effects — especially the dragon chase — were incredible. The arena for the Quidditch World Cup was very impressive, and I wish we could have seen more of it. That brings us to the final factor…
  • Pacing: 8
    The first fifteen or twenty minutes of the movie felt very rushed, but that’s largely due to my realizing just how much of the book was being cut out in order to get the story told in a reasonable time. The pacing didn’t bother me once the Tri-Wizard Tournament got underway, mostly because my recollection of the book kind of fades out right around that point in the story.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was very enjoyable. It kept much of the edgy quality Alfonso Cuarón brought to the franchise in Prisoner of Azkaban and ventured into very dark territory as the climax approached. The Tri-Wizard Tournament challenges (particularly the third and final challenge, which was simplified a great deal from the version in the novel) set the stage very nicely for the confrontation between Harry and He Who Must Not Be Named.

Daniel Radcliffe and company continue to improve upon their performances, and some of the more peripheral characters (the Weasley twins and Neville Longsbottom in particular) really shine through as well. However, Laura and I were both disappointed by the casting of Fleur Delacour. In the book, Fleur is portrayed as magically beautiful, holding much of the male population of Hogwarts in thrall. I realize that it would be difficult to bring this to the screen, but the movie version of Fleur is simply unremarkable. The actress portraying Fleur (Clémence Poésy) is pretty, I suppose , but nothing was done to make her seem in any way magical or enchanting. It seemed as though the fimmakers opted to simply ignore her rather than to put any effort into the translation.

On the flip side of that coin, I was very pleasantly surprised by Brendan Gleeson as Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody. I like Gleeson a lot, but the first picture I saw of him as Moody didn’t really live up to my vision of the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor. In particular, I was put off by the leather strap and socket in which Moody’s “mad eye” was set, which seemed like a special effects cop out to me. Whatever my pre-disposition, Gleeson’s turn as the only-slightly-sane Moody was very good. He brought a good mix of manic twitchiness and brooding to the role. I would have liked to see the script delve a little deeper into the auror’s paranoia, though. Alas, character development does tend to suffer when Rowling’s massive books are packed into two and a half hours on the screen.

So how does Goblet of Fire stack up next to its predecessors? Like this:

  1. Goblet of Fire / Prisoner of Azkaban: This one is a tie. Goblet gets points because it didn’t have a lame (as in poorly-executed) werewolf, but loses points because it also didn’t have enough Gary Oldman. Buckbeak the griffon might have given Azkaban the edge if not for Goblet‘s utterly kickass dragon.
  2. Sorceror’s Stone: The first outing takes second place because I thought it was much more evenly paced than the second installment.
  3. Chamber of Secrets: Not horrible, but definitely the weakest of the series. Kenneth Branagh’s Gilderoy Lockhart is hilarious.

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