The fourth Potter is an improvement on the first two it lacks the invention and charm of last year’s The Prisoner of Azkaban.
I have a confession to make. I am puzzled by the success of Harry Potter. Whilst it’s heartwarming to see the printed word triumph so spectacularly in an age where kids are expected to play computer games I have never been fully bowled over by the whole Potter phenomenon. Maybe its beacuse the films have failed to really spark my imagination or perhaps its because I’m too old. When people ask me if I have read the books and my honest reply is that I prefer to read adult books and anyway I can catch up on the adventures of the boy wizard when the next film comes out, which at the moment is nearly one a year. The film franchise has now made over a billion dollars worldwide and no doubt the accountants at Warner Bros will be very happy, particularly with three more films on the way.
The Goblet of Fire sees young wizard Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his two friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) enter their final year at Hogwarts and after seeing the Quidditch World Cup disrupted by the followers of Lord Voldemort. The start of term sees the Triwizard Tournament take place where pupils are selected by having their names drawn out of the magical ‘goblet of fire’. When Harry’s name is drawn out he is surprised as he isn’t officially old enough to participate but after some consideration he is selected. Also causing Harry some concern is the new teacher "Mad Eye Moody" (Brendan Gleeson). As Harry takes part in the arduous tasks of the tournament he discovers more about what is going on at Hogwarts and the truth about the death of his parents at the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort.
If the previous paragraph made no sense then I assume you haven’t been yet experienced the adventures of the boy wizard. My advice to people coming to this film new is to either a) stay away or b) watch the previous 3. We are now so deep into the Potter series that I defy anyone who hasn’t experienced the books or films to understand what’s going on here. The book of The Goblet of Fire ran much longer than it’s predecessors and contains a lot more plot. Some of this has been compressed for the film, but it still is a lot to take in for those who aren’t Potter afficionados. This film is certainly darker and more exciting than the first two, but as a whole it lacks the sense of invention and playful quality that director Alfonso Cuarón brought to the last film.
Mikle Newell had a tricky job in compressing all the book’s action into this film, although to his credit the action set pieces are as good as any in the series. The Triwizard challenges in particular are handled with a deft assurance. Brendan Gleeson is also a highlight as the new teacher on the block. As his character’s name might suggest he has one eye that seems to have a life of it’s own. As you might expect from a film of this scale and size the production design and technical contributions are all impressive, but one aspect that left me a little underwhelmed was tha ttention paid to the three main characters.
In this film Harry, Ron and Hermione all go through the traditional problems teenagers face growing up. We see some of these in brief, Ron and Harry fall out over the competition and Hermione is upset when she isn’t asked to the school ball. But these moments feel few and far between and given that the film is filled to bursting with plot developments it would have been nice for a change of pace with more character based drama to contrast with all the action and special effects. It is no coincidence that one of the best sequences in the film – when we finally get to see the infamous Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) – is slower and more considered.
It is rare that franchises go past a fourth film but with the books in danger of outselling the Bible it seems like the Potter films will continue till the seventh and final installment. Despite their popularity I don’t think they will ever compare favourably to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the other blockbuster fantasy franchise of recent years. Those films had a scale and intensity that the Potters have so far not matched but they have improved on the first two films which often seemed to be coasting on the coat tails of the books and the charming world Rowling had created. Here Mike Newell has passed on the baton well but if the series is to be remembered for more than just box office receipts the next films need to be more daring.
> Official Site
> IMDb Link
> Watch the trailer
> Brush up on your Harry Potter knowledge with the help of Wikipedia
> Go even further with the Harry Potter Wiki
> JK Rowling’s official site
> Confused by all the Potter jargon? Struggling to understand what a Muggle is? Then the Harry Potter Lexicon can help you out
> One of JK Rowling’s favourite fansites is The Leaky Cauldron. Full of the latest news on all things Potter