*Disclaimer: Review Contains Spoilers
Release date: November 18th, 2005
Written by: Steve Kloves
Directed by: Mike Newell
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Robert Patinson, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, and Gary Oldman
In his fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry must survive his toughest challenge yet: the Triwizard Tournament. The tournament is designed to test three young Wizards with the winner receiving honor and glory. The three selected are Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour, and Viktor Krum. But in addition, an unexpected fourth his selected: Harry Potter. Harry is too young to even participate, but because the Goblet of Fire chose his name, he must compete. The question is, who put Harry’s name in the Goblet and why?
For whatever reason, Alfonso Cuarón did not return as director. I’m not surewhy , but it’s a shame. That said, his replacement, Mike Newell, does a very good job with this film. One element he brought to The Goblet of Fire that none of the other films had is scope, and the sense of an epic. The Prisoner of Azkaban was a more personal and intimate story, and didn’t lend itself to an epic. Where as the first two films, despite their best efforts, felt relatively small in scale. But The Goblet of Fire really feels like a big movie with a big story. But I must say, while Newell has a more interesting visual style than Columbus did, he doesn’t hold a candle to Alfonso Cuarón.
At this point in the series, our three leads have come into their own as their characters. An interesting thing they do with the leads in this one is temporarily turning them against each other. In the previous films, no matter what happened, you knew they were all thick as thieves, best friends. There was some quarreling between Ron and Hermione, but nothing serious. Here though, we see them divided at times. Ron goes through a big period of envying Harry. It makes sense, his best friend is rich and always being told about how legendary he is and all the great things he can do. Ron comes from a poor family and doesn’t have a stand out feature amongst his siblings. You want to be mad at Ron, but you do understand where he’s coming from. There’s also conflict with Hermione, as some sexual tension arises between her and Ron. This is all handled well and doesn’t become overbearing on the plot. Back in Chamber of Secrets, there was a brief moment of everyone turning on Harry when they found out Harry is a Parselmouth, but that only seemed to last one scene and overall meant nothing. Here the conflict contributes to the drama.
The supporting cast is great as always. Alan Rickman isn’t given as much to do this time around, but the scene where he walks around his class and keeps hitting Harry and Ron for talking his pretty funny. I like what Michael Gambon does here with Dumbledore. In the previous films, Dumbledore was always the one who had all the answers and always knew what to do. But here, Dumbledore isn’t sure what to do. He is tested just like Harry. Jason Isaacs returns as Lucius Malfoy, and he seems more restrained and less over the top. I like him more here than in Chamber of Secrets. Oddly enough, I found Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall had improved. Mainly because in this, we see more emotion form her. She seems more like a human being, and less cold as a person.
We see several new additions to the cast. Brendan Gleeson plays Madeye Moody. His character is a lot of fun, albeit very creepy. Technically Gleeson is playing Barty Crouch Jr. who is pretending to be Madeye. Knowing that and re-watching the film gives his character a whole new age. There is a scene early on where Madeye is using the torture curse on a spider, right in front of Neville. The scene is creepy enough, but it takes on a whole new dimension when you find out Crouch killed Neville’s parents using the torture curse. Speaking of Barty Crouch Jr., he is played by David Tennant when in his regular form. Tennant makes Crouch really creepy and I love his character. Of all the death eaters in the series, Barty Crouch may be my favourite. And of course we have Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, but we’ll get to him later.
Like the first two films, Goblet of Fire hits the two and a half hour mark. But unlike those two, this film kept me immersed throughout that run time. Mostly because the film does have a pretty epic story. The three stages of the Triwizard tournament are all very different but interesting. The first task involves stealing a golden egg from a dragon. It’s an exciting scene that sees Harry zipping through the skies on his broom being chased by a dragon. Watching this scene also made me realize just how far along the effects had come since the The Philosopher’s Stone. The second task involves swimming through the Black Lake to save someone close, and the third sees the contestants essentially going through a hedge maze to find the Triwizard cup. All these tasks are challenging, and the force Harry to use his intellect, magical skills, and even his physical strength. In addition to that, the story goes through several twists. We learn Snape was once a Death Eater, and the backstory to how Barty Crouch Jr. was outed as a Death Eater is very interesting and one of my favorite scenes of the film. All this great stuff leads to one epic climax.
Oh the climax, the graveyard scene. This is probably my favourite scene in the series. Right off the bat, we watch Cedric get killed by Wormtail. For the first time in the series (not counting flashbacks) we watch an innocent person die. Then Wormtail resurrects Voldemort by cutting off his own hand and drawing blood from Harry’s arm. When Voldemort finally does take his physical form, there is a sense that this is the ultimate evil.And Ralph Fiennes is so good in the part. We’ve seen other incarnations of Voldemort in the series, but none of them even come close to Fiennes. He’s very malicious, at times just torturing Harry. But he also gives Voldemort this sense of class and sophistication. I’d been waiting to see Voldemort for a long time, and this scene really delivered. Though I do find Harry’s escape a small deus ex machina and a better explanation would have been nice. Still, this is a great great scene, and I don’t think it’s really been topped.
Even with all the things I like about this film, there are still things I found lacking. For one, the series continues to make Malfoy an utter joke. I know I complained about this in my last review, but this really bothers me. Especially considering how old the character is, and also how good an actor Tom Felton is. It’s a shame to see him wasting his time with such crap. And I know it’s only a small part of this film, but it really would come to bite the series in the ass later on. I also find the end a bit odd. After Cedric is killed, Harry escapes Vodlemort, and Barty is caught, we get a very good scene of Dumbledore addressing the school, honoring Cedric’s memory, and warning all of the threat on the horizon. Then we get a good scene between Dumbledore and Harry. But after that, and it’s the same day mind you, we see the other school’s leaving, but everyone is smiling and laughing. There is a sense that dark things are on the horizon, but I still find it too happy given recent events. I would have preffered a more remorseful tone.
Still, these are minor flaws. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a great film and, despite being made by an inferior director, is still on par with The Prisoner of Azkaban. The acting, the action, the effects, the script, everything is handled very well. Another great Potter film.