Go ahead and gasp. I have never read a page of any Harry Potter book, nor have I seen any of the movies up to this point. How have I managed to accomplish this feat? I have no clue. J.K. Rowling’s novels are a worldwide sensation and sell at such a rate that I’m surprised that the trees outside my window haven’t been cut down to make more paper for them. What I do know is that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a first-class adventure story loaded with spectacle, character, and heart.
Now don’t get me completely wrong. I did my homework before attending the screening of the new film so that I could be as familiar as possible with the characters and the stories leading up to Goblet of Fire. I believe similar newbies can attend the film and not be completely lost, but it does help to be familiar with Hogwarts, Potter, Ron, and Granger, among others. One thing I cannot do, however, is tell you how Goblet of Fire compares to the previous entries in the series.
In Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter (Radcliffe) is in his fourth year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The school is hosting the renowned TriWizard Tournament, a series of three challenges that could have deadly consequences. The event is among the Hogwarts School, Beauxbatons Academy, and Durmstrang Institute. The catch is that you have to be seventeen to enter, thus eliminating Harry and his close friends, Ron Weasley (Grint) and Granger (Watson). Prospective contestants put their name is the goblet of fire. When Harry’s name mysteriously appears from the goblet, he has no choice but to participate by TriWizard rules. The adventure begins.
First-time Potter director Mike Newell manages to balance the action and characters with grace and precision. Running a lengthy 157 minutes, one would have valid concerns that the film would drag. Not so, as Newell keeps things moving well thanks to a solid screenplay by Steven Kloves that never lets up. Newell knows he’s dealing with spectacular special effects, and he lets us see them fully, instead of hiding behind darkness or rain. Newell clearly knows the source material and gives the film a vibrant, truly alive aura.
Let’s face it, by now all the actors involved have essentially morphed into their Harry Potter counterparts, so the performances are all top-notch. Everyone’s a little older of course, but they all still have a youthful glee about them. Brendan Gleeson is the true show-stopper as Alastor ‘MadEye’ Moody, an off-the-wall teacher with a truly bizarre eye mechanism.
It should be mentioned that the film is rated PG-13, and there are some images that will scare younger children. The film takes a dark turn for its final act. It is exhilarating, but it also earns the rating. Then again, how will parents declare that their kids cannot see this one after seeing the previous films?
As a newfound member of this worldwide clique, I must say that Goblet of Fire dishes up everything one could ask for in adventure film; humor, action, and a true sense of identity. This is unique and thrilling cinema, and it’s not to be missed.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Length: 157 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.
Theatrical Release: November 18, 2005
Directed by: Mike Newell
Written by: Steven Kloves. Based upon the book by J.K. Rowling.
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Brendan Gleeson, Miranda Richardson, Maggie Smith