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.

12 thoughts on “Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

  1. While a agree that Golbet was a good film, I still have to rate Azkaban as a better movie. Goblet felt rushed to me, and while I know that to be expected (It was a long-ass book, after all), it detracted from things somewhat. I am hoping that there will be a DVD of a director’s cut at some point.

  2. The only point I would add is that I very much disliked Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore this time out. Both my wife and I agreed that he just wasn’t Dumbledore. The main example that comes to mind is when he tackles Harry in confronting him on how Harry’s name got into the Goblet. It was quite disappointing. I very much miss Richard Harris.

  3. My theater experience was like a 0 for this one. Some idiot parents brought their child (roughly 3) to a 9:30pm weekday showing. The child, one row in front of me, was not at all interested in the movie and began to yell at random from the outset. When I suggested the parent at least make an attempt to calm the child, the father turned and said something unpleasant (I missed the actual words) in my direction. Minutes later, someone further down the theatre said, ‘Shut up, kid!’ and the mother countered, ‘Don’t talk to my baby that way!’ A few minutes later, another patron left the theatre and brought an usher/manager to deal with the situation. He suggested that they take the child to the lobby until it can be quieted or that they leave. They put up a fight, but in the end, left.

    So, I basically missed the first half hour of the movie.

    That said, I enjoyed the action sequences and the effects, but there was a lot missing from the movie. Character development in particular. I’d actually rank this my least favorite of the series, just because it felt /so/ rushed, there was very little reason to care about the characters. There was no good reason shown for Ron and Harry’s alienation, for instance. It was kept for fidelity to the book, but it brought nothing to the movie. And the New Dumbledore has already been mentioned.

    I’d like to see it again. Perhaps my mood was tainted too much by the disruption at the beginning of the film.

  4. Also,

    Alan Rickman will always be Hans Fucking Gruber to me. In the liner notes for Dogma, Kevin Smith talks about the experience of casting him and said something to the effect of, “I couldn’t believe that I was on the phone with Hans Fucking Gruber.”

    I’m pretty sure that we should retroactively make the character’s middle initial F.

  5. Codeshaman said:

    While a agree that Golbet was a good film, I still have to rate Azkaban as a better movie. Goblet felt rushed to me, and while I know that to be expected (It was a long-ass book, after all), it detracted from things somewhat. I am hoping that there will be a DVD of a director’s cut at some point.

    I know what you mean. Thankfully, I have what we call in layman’s terms “a really shitty memory.” I remembered a fair amount of detail around the beginning of the book, so the absence of Dobby and the brevity of the Weasley twins’ efforts to get their names into the goblet really made the frenetic pacing evident to me. After that, though, I remembered very little about the story. I had almost no recollection about the details of the second and third challenges in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

    My ignorance gave Goblet of Fire a point or two more in the Pacing category.

  6. Jahnoth said:

    The only point I would add is that I very much disliked Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore this time out. Both my wife and I agreed that he just wasn’t Dumbledore. The main example that comes to mind is when he tackles Harry in confronting him on how Harry’s name got into the Goblet. It was quite disappointing. I very much miss Richard Harris.

    Codeshaman added:

    Yeah. My wife and I thought the same thing. Gambon is too loud, too bombastic.

    Dumbledore’s half-moon spectacles are not easy to fill, it seems. I, too, disliked the “did you put your name in the goblet” scene. Dumbledore is much, much too frantic there.

    Another thing that struck me was how little presence Gambon’s Dumbledore has when he’s not loud and bombastic. In the scene where he is talking to Harry in the Gryffindor dormitory, Dumbledore just looked like a frail, old man to me.

  7. blob said:

    I’d like to see it again. Perhaps my mood was tainted too much by the disruption at the beginning of the film.

    I must have been an ill-mannered moviegoer in a previous life, because I have had some pretty bad luck when it comes to the theater experience. Laura says I’m overly sensitive (she didn’t even notice the people exiting and entering the auditorium during Goblet of Fire), and she may be right; it’s ridiculously easy to pull me out of the movie.

    That said, I don’t recall ever being in a theater when an audience member was asked to leave. I’ve told people to shut up on occasion, but I’m generally not the confrontational type in those situations, which probably just makes it worse for me.

  8. blob said:

    Also,

    Alan Rickman will always be Hans Fucking Gruber to me. In the liner notes for Dogma, Kevin Smith talks about the experience of casting him and said something to the effect of, “I couldn’t believe that I was on the phone with Hans Fucking Gruber.”

    I’m pretty sure that we should retroactively make the character’s middle initial F.

    “You asked for a miracle, I give you the F… B… I.”

  9. Big Bro #4 and I went to see this Thanksgiving Day. We both liked it. I don’t really analyze movie’s as much as my Big Bro #3 does, I either like them or I don’t. But you do make some rather valid points. I didn’t mind the new Dumbledore, until he opened his mouth….

  10. Haven’t seen any of them.

    I didn’t mind the new Dumbledore, until he opened his mouth….

    That’s a mighty pretty…

    Let’s not go there.

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