Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Go read the book. Seriously, if you haven't, go read it!
Well, OK, if you insist. In this fourth installment, two foreign schools join the Hogwarts kids in the Triwizard tournament, where three students engage in a dangerous magical tournament. Or should I say, four students, as someone has put Harry's name in the running. You guessed, it, you-know-who is after Harry again.
What I Thought
Thankfully continuing on the "look" of the third movie, this HP is a nice and dark movie, with plenty of silver colors, dust, cobwebs, and a great feeling of age (the first two movies, by contrast, looked like they were shot in an ever-new Disney World).
In fact, the third and fourth movies feel almost as one long movie, and that's a good thing.
The three kids are maturing in a very good way, their acting skills are becoming more subtle and, well, grown-up. Emma Watson (Hermione) particularly has come very far from her big-hair know-it-all bratty kid into a quite beautiful teen who can deliver scathing lines at Harry and Ron with as much pomp and verve as the much older (and always fantastic) Alan Rickman (Snape).
This movie however suffers from a big problem, and it's not the director, nor the actors, nor the storyline. For once, its the author. Not that I can fault her, but this movie in particular forces the director to include specific scenes. And since there are so many of them, you already have a 2 hour movie with very little for the director to add or interpret (unlike the previous movie where Alfonso Cuaron had a much freer hand when adapting and interpreting the story). More than any of the other movies, this one really does have too much to cram in.
Consider that the Triwizard tournament has three tasks (i.e., 3 scenes), plus the selection of the kids, plus the arrival of the two schools, plus the World Cup, plus the final Voldemort scene, plus at least one scene with Rita Skeeter, plus at least one Mad Eyed Moody scene, plus the ending, and a few others. Once you add those up, DONE. Two hour movie.
So unfortunately, this movie feels much more as if things were cut. Crouch's house elf? Cut! The animagus substory with Skeeter? Cut! The Giant substory with Madame Maxine? Cut! Ludo Bagman? Cut! The house elf liberation front? Cut!
All of which I agree with, though I miss them nonetheless.
Many characters are also seriously underused. Snape has maybe one line. McGonagall, maybe two. And it's too much to hope for a 3 or 4 hour extended edition a la Lord of the Rings. Is Peter Jackson available for any of the remaining movies?
The most chilling scenes are the ones at the end with Lord Voldermort. I don't know what I was expecting, but what I got was bone chilling. Ralph Fiennes is fantastic! No special effects, no over-the-top getup or special effects. No (thank goodness!) crowns, stars, clovers, or diamonds. Fiennes' Voldemort is an evil and slimy individual and sure to give little kids nightmares.
In short, I loved it. It can't help but suffer because of how the book was written, but it's fun seeing it anyway, and most fans will not come away disappointed. Bring on number five!
All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.