Retro Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Hi everyone,

I'm willing to bet the farm that at least one person reading this review has seen the fourth Potter movie. I didn't get into the first film, skipped the second, saw the third and was surprised that I enjoyed it.

I later read the first book,which made me understand why Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon. In my opinion, Goblet of Fire is darker than Prisoner of Azkaban, butnot as stylish. The third film's my personal favorite.

Unlike most other film franchises which've become shells of their former glory by the fourth installment, Harry Potter seems to begetting stronger. It doesn't reach the level of LOTR, but there's still four more coming, so there's time to raise the bar--or fall below it.

The 700 page book has been condensed into 156 dense minutes that don't cover everything. We spend no time in the world of the magicless muggles. GOBLET takes place entirely on the Hogwarts School's grounds where even the teachers have to follow rules of magical behavior. Returning students visit the Quidditch campsite where the dreaded Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) Death Eaters ruin the festivities by burning the site down. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), tormented by a recurring nightmare, foresees that he is in mortal danger.

In this installment, Hogwarts is hosting the Triwizard Tournament. Two other schools are vying for the honorable Goblet of Fire trophy: the Beaux batons (Beautiful Wands) Academy and the Durmstrang (Storm and Stress) Institute. Candidates, who willingly enter by placing their names in the Goblet of Fire, must be sixteen years old to join thedangerous competition of three challenges. The Goblet chooses not three, but four names. Harry, though only 14, cannot be excluded since the Goblet appears to want him to play.

Hogwart's ever-present, involved headmaster Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) asks Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (Brendan Gleeson) to discreetly protect Harry, since Harry does not have the magical skills required to enter the three challenges.

The three challenges are fighting a dragon, an underwater rescue, and a run through a magical maze. The maze brings Harry face-to-face with tongue-wiggling Lord "No-Nose" Voldemort who needs Harry's blood to resurrect himself.

Now that Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) are fourteen, they are becoming interested in relationships. And the School's Yule Ball has everyone expected to pair up and dance! Harry, still not claiming his magical heritage, fumbles around girls. Ron, after having a jealous spat with Harry, starts to notice his feelings for Hermione (though he might have a crush on Harry?). Being more mature, Hermione accepts Durmstrang's muscular star Viktor Krum's (Stanislav Ianevski) invitation to the dance. Harry lets his opportunity to ask another girl to the ball slip through his fingers. And Hermione seems to have undeveloped feelings for Harry. Both Harry and Ron blow their opportunities for having a good time with the girls they do get as dates by moping over not being with the ones they wanted in the first place. Typical teen angst. Mike Newell (the first Brit todirect a Harry Potter flick) puts his flair in this sequence, showing his touch for dysfunctional relationships from Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Harry Potter fans demand certain things, so the film is faithful to the book. The dance, while central to the subplot of the development of the main character's sexual awakening, slows the magical pace. And there is just too many old, old wizards and witches. Doesn't magic also suggest enchantment and seduction?

When does magic get sexy? I kept hoping to see more of the Beautiful Wand girls. Tres interessant.

May I ask what happened to the Beauxbatons Academy's candidate in the maze? If the Triwizard Tournament is so prestigious in the world of wizards, the winner never takes the cup! Where's the grand ceremony honoring the triumphant winner?

And something I didn't understand was why the magic ministry didn't send out enforcers of some sort to deal with Voldemort's Death Eaters after they flamed the World Quidditch festivities?

The 156 minutes gives Newell enough time to seduce the audience with fantastic scenes that outreaches the other movies. Each is getting better without cheating the audience. There is a chilling twist I certainly did not see coming. I would have liked to spend more time with Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and Minierva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), magicians of renown now teaching kids magical manners. What are their histories?

GOBLET is directed and paced well. But it's even less of a stand-alone than the earlier installments, depending on the audience'sknowledge from previous movies and/or the books. To me, the ending was anticlimatic with Ralph Fiennes playing a somewhat subdued Voldemort.

Something I liked about Harry's character is that he's not the classsic hero. Often stumbling and unsure of himself, he rises tothe occassion in a big way when he has to.

Here's hoping the next four Harry Potter films'll be gems.