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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Well, I just got back from the latest entry in the adventures of the boy wizard. I liked it, but I did not find it to be the best one of the series, perhaps that will come with multiple viewings, but not yet. That isn’t to say it is bad, it is a solid film, but, like with any movie, it has its flaws.

I have not read any of the Potter books, probably never will. That isn’t for any lack of desire. My desire to watch films and television and other visual arts, plus the writing, does not allow me much time to read a book. Perhaps one day the bottom of this hobby will fall out from under me and I will get the opportunity to pick up a book, but until then, who knows? I say this because I cannot compare the content of the film with that of the book, which I am sure many of you would like. Anyway, on to the movie.

My biggest issue with the film is the flow of the story. It feels more segmented than I would have liked, sort of like chapters in a book. That setup can work, but it didn’t for me here. The flow is too choppy; the Quidditch World Cup sequence at the beginning, for example. The scene does its thing and ends, and that’s it, we’re onto the next scene with not much transition. The cycle then repeats itself. Also, the story doesn’t seem to be all that strong, the whole thing plays out as all effect and no cause. Kind of as if they get to the last 20-30 minutes and realize that everything leading up to this is effect and they have to quickly get in the cause. In other words, there’s a lot of hurry up and go nowhere. Not enough forward motion as I would have liked.

Now its time to move on to the good stuff. There are a number of interesting scenes that show our characters entering adolescence. The guys obsess with getting a date for a big dance, the relationships become more complicated, their maturity level increases. This leads to our heroic trio having darker adventures, and this one does up the ante in terms of peril, so much so as to rate a PG-13.

The acting is decent, the adults all fill their roles ably, although their performances are more one note through character necessity. The kids, on the other hand, have moments of nuance and moments of annoyance. Some scenes show the kids and the conflict they feel, the emotions play across their faces, other scenes have them just doing the opposite of what they should.

Oh yeah, one other thing that bothered me, and the series in general, is the timing of all the problems. Why do things only seem to happen when he’s at school? Do the bad guys just decide to leave him alone for summer vacation? It would seem logical to think that he would be more vulnerable during the summer months when his wizard crew isn’t hanging around?

Mike Newell sat in the director’s chair this time around, the third director following Chris Columbus and Alfonso Cuaron. He brings a more vibrant color palette to the table than Cuaron did in The Prisoner of Azkaban. He does a good job at bringing some of the set pieces to life and directing some excellent quiet character moments. I still don’t care for the choppy, chapter like staging.

There is something else that struck me while I sat in the theater. I was hit with the thought of the cult-like legions of Potter-heads, those hardcore fans eager to snap up anything with his name on it. How can these people dedicate themselves so ferociously to a single franchise? I am sure they like other things to, but the rabid abandon some fans go after these things is hard for me to fathom, and this goes for other franchises too, it isn’t limited to this one. There are way too many films that I want to see to limit my mindset to just one. But this is really a talk for another time.

One final note before closing, a comment which will be of no consequence in a couple of days. Is the box office draw dropping? Usually big film openings like this one draw packed houses, things like Star Wars, Spider-Man, and Lord of the Rings. This theater was nowhere near being sold out, is interest dropping? I don’t think it will reach the $90 million opening weekend predictions. Although, I am sure it will still do fantastic.

Bottomline. I know, I know, I did not delve too deeply into the story at hand, but despite wanting to write about the film, I was not inspired to tell the story. I plan on seeing this in IMAX as well, perhaps then I will report more on the story? Anyway, the main thing you should take away from my views is that it is a very entertaining film, but not the best Potter. It will entertain you and it moves briskly, despite it’s 150 minute runtime. This is well worth your time.


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About Draven99

  • My wife and I are both HP fans (read the books, seen the other movies multiple times) and we were bitterly disappointed. We thought 4 was easily the worst of the bunch (for reasons too many to list right now). Pity, really. 4 is one of our favorite books in the series.

  • I think you would get it more if you read the books. (Oh my god, this sounds silly saying it aloud) It’s explained in the books that he’s never attacked at home because there are magical spells of protection surrounding him as long as he’s in the home of one of his mother’s blood. When you read the book, you buy it.

    I dunno. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m going to have remind myself that like the book, it’s supposed to be the transition novel in the series. You might’ve enjoyed the movie more because the book was really good; but at the same time, a lot of the fans I know are really disappointed by this movie.

    That’s life.

  • The Theory

    I liked the movie a lot more than the Prisoner of Azkaban. Definitely a fun theater experience. I’ll have to see it a second time to see how it rates with the first two.

    But yeah, I think a number of your complaints would probably be sovled if you read the books. There is a lot of information presented in them that, for time reasons, couldn’t get mentioned in the movies.

  • Thank you for all the comments!

    I think that the idea of having to read the book to get what is presented in the film is an example of a poor adaptation. I know that the two mediums need to be judged of their own accord, and I understand the need for changes between the two formats. Books allow so much more freedom and room to expand on its concepts.

    If someone has to rely on reading the book inorder to get the movie, the people adapting the book need to go back and do a better job of it. The whole school year thing I can accept, dramatically speaking we need to be at the school, but the others, eh… I don’t recall having any issues like this with the first three.

  • Brent

    As a viewer (and big fan) of the movies only and not a reader of the books, let me chime in my 2 cents. I truly enjoy the human aspect of the 4th movie, as the characters ‘come of age’. However, the flow is nowhere near the dynamic, quick-paced Prizoner of Azkaban. Which, by-the-way, is the only movie in the series with clear understandable story telling from beginning to end, and the only movie which left me fully satisfied. Even though it is based on a book, it IS a movie and needs to be understandable and reach EVERYONE. So, although I DO recommend the Goblet of Fire, a good movie, it doesn’t live up to its predecessor ‘Azkaban’, one of the best paced movies I may have seen.

  • Josh

    I went to see the movie Opening night. Very fun and exciting never done such a thing but it was awesome all the excitement from fans including myself. Talk about a fun late night showing!