Reel Reviews

Film Reviews by a Real Person, Not a Critic

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Year: 2005
Director: Mike Newell
Starring Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes
Rated: PG-13

Reel Reviews Rating:

Yes, I finally actually get to review a current movie. I saw this particular one this weekend.

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I have read all the books more than once and am currently trying to collect first editions and first printings of the books. Naturally I get excited when I hear that the latest film adaptation is coming out. It’s cool to see the scenes that I had visualized in my head come to life on the big screen, not to mention the physical representations of beloved characters. But of course, that is also the most difficult and challenging task that faces filmmakers who adapted books for film.

– First and foremost, you have to stay as true to the original book as possible and not alienate/piss off the loyal fans.

– Second, you have to make it appealing enough to attract people who have never read the book and are just interested in seeing a movie.

– Third, since you obviously can’t translate the entire book scene for scene, you have to take great care in keeping in the most important scenes, stories, and characters while removing the ones not necessary to the plot.

With this in mind, it’s kind of tough for me to review this film separate from the book since there are many differences between the two, but I’ll give it a whirl.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth movie/book in the Harry Potter installment. Harry’s wizarding school Hogwarts hosts a very special event called the Triwazard Tournament to promote friendship and goodwill among the magic community. During the course of the years, the school hosts student athletes from two other wizarding schools, who also plan to compete in the event.

Although the winner of the Triwazard Tournament is promised “eternal glory”, it comes at a very high price. Contestants compete in 3 very grueling and extremely dangerous tasks. In past Tournaments, contestants have been killed. Because of this, contestants have to be 17 years old or older. One champion is to be chosen to represent his or her school. Naturally, due to sinister forces, 14-year old Harry is inexplicably chosen as the fourth champion, and he has no choice but to compete in the deadly contest.

In addition to the Triwizard Tournament, Harry must face other obstacles throughout the movie: puberty. Yep, our lil’ ol’ Harry is growing up. He’s noticing girls for the first time, and feels nervous in asking them out.

Then of course there’s still that sticky situation with his archnemesis, Lord Voldemort.

As you can see, Harry’s got a lot on his plate.

This movie (like the book) was the longest of the first four movies, yet it still seemed rushed, especially in the first half hour. You get no sense of time. I know that they couldn’t put everything from the book into the movie, but they could have done a lot better. For example, in the book Harry and his friends attend the Quidditch World Cup, and the movie does a great job in portraying the opening ceremony. But suddenly- CUT. The next scene features people celebrating because their favorite team had won. I thought it was extremely abrupt. They definitely didn’t have to show the whole thing, but at least a small montage would have been cool. In another example, the scenes that introduce the students from the other two schools was somewhat choppy. First you see Harry and his friends on the train, and the next thing you see the arrival of the foreign students. There is no explanation for who they are until several minutes later.

In some cases, the editing just didn’t make sense. For example, Harry is walking through the forest and stumbles upon something important. In the very next scene, he goes to Professor Dumbledore’s office, which gives the audience the idea, “Oh, he’s going to tell him what happened”. But when Harry gets there, he doesn’t mention the incident at all and talks about something else. Wha???

I think that the biggest problem with Harry Potter and the GOF was that it didn’t allow for enough exposition and spent too much time on the action sequences. For example, the first task took a lot longer in the movie than it did in the book. Obviously they were going for a Hollywood, larger than life, action sequence with a chase scene in the air. At the same time however, you never find out, for example, why Neville became so agitated in class during the demonstration of one of the three Unforgivable Curses.

Another issue was with the characters. I know that it’s tough to give enough screen time on so many characters but hey- they managed to do it in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Harry Potter and the GOF introduces several new, supporting characters but we know very little of them. For example, although there are 3 other contestants in the Triwizard Tournament, two of them barely have any lines. Even some the adult cast seemed somewhat wasted. I know that Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman were in this film, but I barely saw them. Granted, their Sirius Black and Professor Snape characters were not as important in this film (though both play a significant role in the next two books), but I still felt that their talents were wasted.

Upon reading some of the other reviews on this movie last night, I have to add something that they noted, which I agree with. Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Professor Dumbledore had completely missed the mark. In one scene he violently grabs and shakes Harry, which is, as any Potter fan will tell you, something that Professor Dumbledore had never done in the book. It’s completely uncharacteristic of him. I’m not saying that Gambon should copy Richard Harris’s portrayal of Dumbledore from the first two Potter films. I’m just saying that he should stick closer to the character in the book.

In spite of these issues I had with the film, I still enjoyed it because it mostly stayed true to the film and kept pretty much all of the important scenes. There are several funny moments, which are refreshing given the overall somber mood of the plot. The Weasley twins, played by the Phelps twins, were especially good; they’ve finally been allowed to stretch their funny bones. I’m looking forward to seeing more of their comedic talents in the next movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Harry Potter and the GOF is the first in the series to receive a PG-13 rating, and rightfully so. There are several scary scenes that young children should not watch. It’ll give them nightmares. It’s only natural that this film get this rating; not only is it a lot darker and more serious, but there is some mild sexual innuendo, as in the funny scene with Harry and the ghost of Moaning Myrtle in the Prefects’ Bath.

Because of the poor editing, and rushed feeling in the beginning in this film, I wouldn’t recommend this movie for Potter novices. At the least, novices should have seen the previous film, Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban, to understand what’s going on in this one. Non-diehard Potter fans on the other hand, would not have this problem since they can fill in the blanks with their knowledge of the book. Diehard Potter fans (like any diehard fans of a book adapted to a movie), will just complain the whole time and not be happy that the movie isn’t “as I imagined it”.

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November 28, 2005 - Posted by | Action, Family, Fantasy, Film Adaptation

1 Comment »

  1. I heard a rumor that Disney might be making a Harry Potter theme park? I imagine that it would do very well for a while, but in the long run it would flop.

    Comment by mr skin | October 17, 2006 | Reply

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