Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Reviews
Harry Potter seems as if he hit puberty and is like "life is so hard I hate it, i'm a angsty teenager"
My interest in the franchise has thus far consisted of sitting through the first film in a freezing cinema wondering what all the fuss was about, and skim-reading the second book on an aeroplane to appease my curiosity as to the young wizard's appeal. I have long been astonished at the sheer scale of Rowling's achievement, and while I may treat many of my fellow commuters - the regressive thirty-somethings who are buried in her CHILDREN'S novels on the tube - with something approaching contempt, I realise her success is very much deserved. It's a bit excessive though, and frankly enough to reduce any impoverished wannabe writer to a jealous whimper.
Being an outsider who will undoubtedly get all the names wrong, I won't spend long here on the plot, save to say it revolves around the "tri-wizard tournament" - an epic and dangerous event that threatens to split Hogwarts loyalties asunder.
Instead, I'll concentrate on the performances, and, first up, I fear I must say I have reservations over the casting of Harry. Daniel Radcliffe looked an inspired choice after the first film - floppy hair and specs and an earnest charm - but I'm afraid to say, he is an ordinary actor. The trouble with hiring an eleven year old for a film project as massive as this, is you are rather in the lap of the gods when it comes to puberty. It's a bit like doting on a baby puppy and then being terribly upset a year or so later when a bloody great Alsatian smashes up your living room and defecates on your carpet.
Much better are his faithful chums. Rubber-faced Ron (Rupert Grint) handles the adolescent grunting with considerably more aplomb than Radcliffe, and he also says "bloody hell" a lot which elicited gasps of delight from some of the younger viewers around me. There is some nice chemistry between him and the hitherto gawky and posh Hermione who has blossomed into a snooty English rose, and the theme of teenage angst runs deep throughout the excellent supporting cast.
"Dark and difficult times lie ahead" is the smartly worded tagline, and one gets the impression Harry is far more comfortable dodging fire-breathing dragons, than he is tiptoeing around the opposite sex. The growing pains are neatly handled by director Mike Newell, himself no stranger to the awkward whimsy of love's young dream after sterling work on Four Weddings and a Funeral - Indeed, many of the light-hearted interludes around the school dance scenes betray Newell's penchant for bittersweet comedy and romantic pratfalls.
And, of course, the adults in the cast zoom around with a zest inspired by their youthful co-stars. Robbie Coltrane's Hagrid fashions an unlikely romance with a giantess played by Frances De La Tour; Michael Gambon is a sprightly Dumbledore; and Gary Oldman's screen time is restricted to one scene where he thrusts his head through the burning coals of a roaring fire to offer Harry some sage advice. Perhaps they should have simply hired a stunt double and saved on his fee.
Most impressive of all is Ralph Fiennes who is genuinely terrifying as the evil Lord Voldemort. Fiennes is ably assisted in his wickedness by a suitably conniving Timothy Spall and also the most fearsome set of nostrils to grace the silver screen since Hannibal Lector flexed his snout at Agent Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.
It is pretty stirring stuff - visually extraordinary in places - and nicely paced. Potterfiles will love it and detractors may just find their criticisms stuck in their throats. However, my disdain for adults who proudly devour the novels on public transport without any sense of shame remains absolute.Based on one of the best books of the Harry Potter series, the film adaptation of 'Harry Potter and the Goblet' had a lot to live up to and I think it succeeded. As Potter fans will know, in GoF, Harry is now fourteen and in his Fourth Year at Hogwarts. When an ancient tournament between Hogwarts and two other European wizarding schools is held that year, a Seventh Year contestant is chosen from each school to compete but things go dramatically awry when Harry, three years too young to even be entered in the dangerous and challenging tournament, is somehow also chosen after his name is mysteriously nominated. GoF is a sharp turning point in the books as the tone darkens considerably and the characters themselves change from being rather wide-eyed innocent children to adolescents thrust the turbulent, uncertain adult world where being 'good' or even an innocent will not guarantee your survival. This shift is also reflected in the film, which was rated 12A (PG13 for Americans), the first of the HP films to be rated so high.
I have to say I did enjoy this film, although Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favourite of the four. Unlike the first two films, this did not attempt to condescend as much to small children in the audience. The tasks of the Triwizard tournament captured most of the thrills of the book, particularly the second water-based task where the merpeople were suitably creepy (now we know why none of the kids go swimming in the summer term!), but the first task over-ran for a minute or two more than needed. Light romance was touched upon yet wasn't over-emphasised and the Yule Ball will please those who enjoyed the scenes in the book but audience members over the age of sixteen might find teens ogling each other a tad dull (Hermione is very out-of-character and the scene does drag).
The acting of the adult cast is, of course, exemplary as always. Alan Rickman's Snape may only have had four or so scenes but he definitely made his presences known while Maggie Smith really captured the essence of McGonagall. Many people do miss Richard Harris' Dumbledore but I found that Michael Gambon has done an excellent job of moulding the role to make it his own. In GoF, Dumbledore feels very human in the way he carries the weight of the wizarding world on his shoulders and though he struggles at times, his concern for his pupils is paramount. I finally felt the close rapport between Dumbledore and Harry in this film that was missing in the previous three HP flicks. However, the prize has to go to Brendan Gleeson for his scene-stealing depiction of Mad-Eye Moody. Gleeson clearly enjoyed illustrating Moody's dangerous, feral edge.
The younger cast have also grown into their roles, improving from their previous outing. Rupert Grint, usually used to playing a comical and stupid Ron, had the chance to cut his acting teeth and show Ron's darker, bitter side and he did well. The Phelp twins have also improved dramatically. No longer do they come across as wooden cut-outs just reading from a cue-card and instead they are able to show the mischievous spontaneity of the Weasley twins. And I look forward to seeing more of Matthew Lewis, who was great at showing Neville's sensitive side without making him too klutzy. Out of the younger cast, though, Dan Radcliffe is the one who has progressed the most. In PoA, he was awful in the 'he was their friend' scene so he seems like another boy in the harrowing graveyard scene and the aftermath, depicting Harry's anger, feelings of vulnerability and grief. He still stumbled on occasion in other scenes but I, at last, have faith he might be able to do the Harry of 'Order of the Phoenix' justice when the time comes.
The film did lose points on a few issues. Although most of the young cast have expanded their acting skills as they have gone on, Emma Watson is waning. She has a tendency of over-enunciating her lines and being too melodramatic, which worked in 'The Philosopher's Stone' when Hermione was condescending and childishly bossy, but is just annoying by this point. She spent most of the film sounding as if she was on the verge of tears or in a hormonal snit, even in scenes which were not remotely sad or upsetting. There was also a choppy feel to the film, as if Steve Kloves struggled to properly condense the book into a two-hour film. Those who haven't read the books will have missed quite a bit and those who have read the books will feel the film is very rushed. Molly Weasley and the Dursleys were also missed, especially since I think Julie Walters would have been exceptional in the Molly/Harry interactions that take place aftermath of the graveyard scenes of the novel as the film didn't round off in a manner that reflected a boy had died and Harry would be traumatised by what he saw.
I think most Potter fans will enjoy this although they will remark that it could have been better. Non-fans will also get something from this film as I imagine it is hard not to be captivated by the many action and dramatic events but they may find themselves muddled by the story. I would recommend that parents of young children either keep away or, at the very least, check out the film firstly before deciding if their child is old enough to cope with it. When I went to see it, there was a small lad of four or five being dragged along and in the middle of a particularly fearsome incident, the silence of the moment was cut by a wee voice crying, 'Mummy, I'm scared' so, parents, be warned.Before I review the film, let me start off by saying that I am a fan of the Harry Potter films and have liked all of them up to this point. I'm not going to compare the movie to the book because, as most people know, they are two completely different animals. There is no way in heaven, hell or on God's green Earth that a book the size of Goblet of Fire could appropriate EVERYTHING that happened in the novel. I'm going to go by what I saw up on the screen.
What I saw up on the screen was a completely pedestrian effort that made no attempt at contributing style, substance, or character development to a series that was getting better and better with each progressive film. Scenes start and stop with no explanation. The big action scenes (especially the fight with the dragon) just begin with no buildup whatsoever almost as if you've stumbled upon someone playing the new Harry Potter video game. There is no sense of the passage of time at all. The Tri-Wizard tournament consists of only three challenges yet the competition seems to last the entire school year. Ron and Hermione have a blow-up at the Yule Ball because of his misplaced jealousy yet six months go by (the last day of school) and NOTHING MORE is ever said about it? She even tells him that he made a mistake by not asking her out and he lets SIX MORE MONTHS go by without saying a word?!
I can forgive the fact that a lot of these things are just glossed over because of the time crunch but I can not forgive situation after situation that has something happen only because the lead character needs to live. In the aforementioned fight with the dragon, Harry ends up hanging from a ledge 100 stories above the ground trying to reach his broom which is nearby. The dragon lands on the building and begins crawling down to him, slipping and sliding, peeling away shingles as it goes and it suddenly hit me. Harry is hanging from a ledge, defenseless, and the dragon is CRAWLING toward him. He is dealing with a creature who spits fire and who can FLY. One flap of its wings and a quick belch and Harry is crispy. The ONLY reason it doesn't is because Harry has to live.
And for that matter, no one in the film acts or reacts to a situation because it's in their nature to do so. They react in a certain way because that's what the script demands that they do, even if it completely goes against their character and everything that we know about them. When Hermione blows up at Ron, it seems to come out of nowhere. She seems to be mad because Ron didn't ask her and she wanted to go with him. But if this is true, why is she so happy about being there with a competitor from a rival school? And I don't just mean happy, I mean she is absolutely BEAMING when she arrives with him. And at one point, Dumbledore grabs Harry and shakes him violently demanding that he answer a question. My reaction to that was WTF??? Has Dumbledore ever shown that he's a violent person or that he would grab a STUDENT, yelling in his face? Of course not but he does it because the script says he has to. At one point in the film, a particular curse is brought up that allows you to control another being. That's kind of funny because it seems like every character in this film is being controlled by the screenplay, even if it means going completely against character.
But I guess the biggest disappointment for me was the confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. For someone who has been built up to be the devil, he sure is beaten easily at the end of this film (and by a quartet of ghosts, no less, which took cheesiness to a new level). The appearance of Voldemort is obviously supposed to be chilling but, in actuality, he looks like a hairless rat wearing a cape. The great Ralph Fiennes does everything he can but part of the appeal of this character is NOT seeing him in closeup in full daylight. He shows up when he wants and manages to let Harry live because he'd rather talk him to death instead of just cutting off his head while Harry is pinned down. But, of course, that's because Harry has to live and this final confrontation, again, seems ridiculous in retrospect.
The entire Tri-Wizard tournament seemed a little off-kilter to me. You perform tasks that test your abilities and try to do better than your opponents, but to what end? The final test consists of entering an ever-changing maze and the first competitor to find the trophy wins the tournament. So, even if you finish DEAD LAST in every other challenge, if you're the first to find the trophy, you win anyway. So, I ask you, WHAT'S THE FRIGGIN' POINT OF EVEN COMPETING IN THE OTHER CHALLENGES?????? Why put yourself in harm's way three times when you only HAVE to do it once?
Looking back, I just realized that you could completely skip this film and move right on to number five without missing a beat as long as you had someone to tell you two things about the film - Harry's interest in Cho and Voldemort being back, sort of. Here's hoping Order of the Phoenix doesn't follow the same path.
Better visual effects, a more epic scope and character development. The conflict between Harry and Ron, the horror like third act, everything is making Harry Potter more mature, like its audience, and I like it.
Harry is introduced to yet another Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher: the grizzled Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson), a former dark wizard catcher who agreed to take on the infamous "DADA" professorship as a personal favor to Headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). Of course, Harry's wishes for an uneventful school year are almost immediately shattered when he is unexpectedly chosen, along with fellow student Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), as Hogwarts' representative in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, which awards whoever completes three magical tasks the most skillfully with a thousand-galleon purse and the admiration of the international wizard community.
Without question, I think this film is the best film in the franchise up to this date. It's easily the darkest, it has the most magic we've ever seen till now, it has deeper character development, it has a little more comedy, and it's just even more crazy. Without a doubt, it's one of my personal favorites in the entire series, which is saying a lot considering how good all the movies have been till this point.
One of the best things about this film is just how dark and emotional it is. This is the first PG-13 film in the franchise, and they really take advantage of that. This feels like the film that finally immerses you into the lore of Voldemort. From the very first scene, they establish the tone of what this film is going to be. It's much darker and more serious, showing us that the stakes are a lot more higher than we could ever imagine. The film is also simultaneously emotional, with a very impactful ending. It was a tragic ending and a perfect way to end this film. It ends on a question mark and a darker note, making us excited for what's next.
I think that this film easily looks the best of the first four films. Granted, I feel like that's an obvious, but this easily is the most least dated movie till this point. Did that make sense? Probably not, but you get what I mean. The CGI and the sets look amazing in this film. The monotone and color pallet used suggests a much more darker and grim film. The camera work and the elaborate angles help tell a story through its visuals, which makes it even more impactful. I think this film looks amazing and it definitely deserves praise in that department.
With our main protagonists, I think this is also the point where you not only see them transition as older kids, but their acting also evolves a lot in this film. You can see their acting skills and how they've grown throughout the year. They're kids, but they act like they're older. Our characters also go through the same problems that a kid would at their age. They have problems expressing their feelings for one another, they struggle with their self image, they struggle finding dates to the ball, and so forth. It makes them even more relatable, and it makes us love our characters and cherish their relationships just as much.
In the end, this has been the most exciting film so far, while also being the dark turning point that makes this franchise what it is. I thought this film was fantastic, and a near perfect film.