movie film review | chris tookey

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
7.50 /10
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Full Cast >

Directed by: Mike Newell
Written by: Steven Kloves

Released: 2005
Origin: UK/ US
Colour: C
Length: 157

This is the darkest and scariest yet of the Harry Potter films (small children, beware!), but it’s also the funniest, and in many ways the best of the four so far.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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This is the story where Harry and his friends go to the Quidditch World Cup, only to find the skies above their camp site ignited with the Dark Mask, the sign of the dreaded Lord Voldemort. There appear for the first time in thirteen years Lord V’s spooky followers, the Death Eaters.

Harry is also having bad dreams about an old caretaker (Eric Sykes) who perishes when he witnesses Voldemort giving instructions to his servant Wormtail (Timothy Spall) and the mysterious Barty Crouch Jr (David Tennant) that they are to find Harry Potter.

A more immediately pressing concern is that Harry finds himself entered for an inter-schools Triwizard competition – illegally, since he is 14, and entrants have to be 17. But once the goblet of fire throws up Harry’s name, he is obliged to compete in a contest which he may well be too inexperienced to survive.

As Harry Potter fans will know, the fourth of J.K. Rowling’s saga is a very long book; and even at 157 minutes, there’s a lot that adapter Steve Kloves has left out.

As a result, it sometimes feels like edited highlights. The plot is rushed, and at several points if I hadn’t read the book I would not have known precisely what was going on, or why.

The reason behind the Death Eaters’ disruption of the Quidditch World Cup gets lost, as do the causes of the sudden demise of Barty Crouch Sr, and the appearance of Harry’s parents in ghost form towards the end. To find out exactly why these events happen, you’ll just have to read the book.

The three competitors in the Triwizard tournament apart from Harry get such short shrift that they never fully come alive as characters, though young Robert Pattinson makes an impact as the best-looking hunk at Hogwarts, Cedric Diggory.

Of the leading adult actors, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith all make the most of their limited opportunities to shine. And Miranda Richardson does what she can with the pared down role of Rita Skeeter, the journalist who can always be relied upon to get her facts maliciously wrong.

But the performance that steals the movie is by Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody, the latest to seize the poisoned chalice of the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professorship. Gleeson has a whale of a time as a kind of Irish Long John Silver, always hinting at danger and cruelty lurking beneath his apparently kindly surface. And his roving eye is a hoot.

Which brings me to the special effects, which are better than ever. The arrival of the two other school teams at Hogwarts is especially magical; the Hungarian Horntail dragon that Harry has to take on in his first Triwizard test is truly ferocious; and the underwater sequences in the second test have a genuinely nightmarish quality, as does the climactic appearance in fully human form of the dreaded Lord Voldemort himself (icily played by Ralph Fiennes, a good choice for the role).

Mike Newell has long proved his versatility as a director, with movies as varied as Donnie Brasco, Dance With a Stranger and Enchanted April, but his great skill is with actors, and here he comes into his own – as befits the director of Four Weddings and a Funeral – in the romantic comedy sequences. The Yule Ball )and all that surrounds this glorified High School hop – including the finding of a date and having to dress up) makes excellent light relief to offset the thrills of the Triwizard tournament.

In this film, even more than in J.K.Rowling’s book, the stirring of adolescent hormones is very marked – and it’s funnier than in the novel. Harry and Ron Weasley’s awkwardness around girls is nicely played by Daniel Radcliffe (pictured left) and Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson (pictured right) makes something genuinely sweet out of the bookish Hermione’s unsureness about whether she wants to be treated as another chap or as a young woman.

Another strength of Mike Newell is that he is the first English director in the Harry Potter series and the first to have a sure grasp of, and affection for, boarding-school life. You get more sense in this film of the byplay between the minor teenage characters, and at last the practical jokers Fred and George Weasley get something funny to do.

But that’s not to say that Newell doesn’t make the most of the action sequences, aided by some excellent special effects, terrific second unit photography (under the direction of Peter Macdonald) and Stuart Craig’s wonderfully imaginative production design. The look of the film is more polished than ever; and if you compare the visual scale of this to the first Harry Potter film you can see how much the team at Leavesdon Studios has had to enlarge its ambitions.

The story-telling may be a bit too rushed, and the leaps in the narrative off-putting to those who haven’t read the book, but there’s a confidence and ease about the production that mean it is never less than entertaining. Though it’s primarily aimed at children, any grown-up who turns up should have a great time as well. Harry Potter is well and truly back, and on magical form.

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