Should I Watch..? Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
What's the big deal?
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire is an action fantasy drama film released in 2005 and is the fourth film in the Harry Potter series, based on the novels by J.K. Rowling. It is the only film in the series directed by Mike Newell and sees Harry entered into a dangerous tournament while his friends struggle to adapt to the many changes happening around them, a lot of them bad. Naturally, it was a commercial success but also a critical one with many critics praising the film's maturity, plotline and the performances of the cast. But this is a much darker film than anything seen previously in the series - if first film The Philosopher's Stone is an innocent child then The Goblet Of Fire is an anti-social teenager smoking behind the bike sheds at school.
What's it about?
After the Quidditch World Cup is attacked by Death Eaters led by Voldemort's servant Barty Crouch Jr, Harry is looking forward to some respite during his fourth year at Hogwarts. But no such luck - after Dumbledore introduces renowned ex-Auror Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody as the new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, he reveals that Hogwarts will host the legendary Triwizard tournament which involves a Year 7 student from each of the three schools competing in three deadly tasks for glory. But Harry is mysteriously entered against his wishes, alienating him from Ron.
Troubled by a dream of Voldemort's return, Harry quickly finds himself an outcast at Hogwarts and unable to rely on Hermione for help as she struggles to contain her feelings for Harry's opponent in the tournament, Viktor Krum. But Harry's feelings for another Hogwarts student, Cho Chang, threaten to wreck his chances in the tournament - especially when it emerges that she is in love with Hogwart's champion Cedric Diggory...
Professor Albus Dumbledore
Professor Severus Snape
Professor Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
Steve Kloves *
Release Date (UK)
18th November, 2005
Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Academy Award Nomination
Best Art Direction
What's to like?
This is probably one of the few films in the series to offer us something more than fancy spells and horrible beasties. The film has a real focus on the characters with hormones running rampant through Hogwarts as Harry learns that there's more to life than a fancy broomstick. It makes The Goblet Of Fire much more interesting as a result and also allows the young cast to spread their wings and develop their characters. The results are great - both Grint and Radcliffe excel as the feuding friends who finally manage to act like teenagers instead of comedy sidekick and noble hero like they normally do.
As usual, the film's cast swells even further to include new characters - the best of whom is Gleeson's fabulous Mad-Eye Moody who is a wonderfully realised character, mechanical eyeball swivelling wildly. Hogwarts remains an impressive stage but the relentless rain and cloud provides a suitably gloomy atmosphere. This is a world away from the innocent days of the earlier movies and especially when Voldemort finally makes his first proper appearance in the series. Fiennes delivers a deliciously wicked performance as He Who Shall Not Be Named, full of arrogance and gloating as his plans begin to bear fruit.
- Audiences in Iceland cracked up when the character Rita Skeeter introduced herself. It turns out that Skeeter sounds rather close to the Icelandic verb 'skíta', which is a crude word for defecating.
- The creature that Mad-Eye torments in his class is identical to an actual animal, the tailless whip-scorpion. They are neither spider nor scorpion and are quite harmless, although they are nearly as big as shown in the movie.
- Newell is the first British director to film a Harry Potter movie, turning down The Constant Gardener to do so. Coincidentally, Fiennes appears in both films.
What's not to like?
If anything, you could say that the film is too dark - it's not a straight-up horror film but the creepy introduction to the picture - which sees a giant snake slithering around an empty house and herding an old man to his death - does set the tone for the film. At times, it seems as though all the colour has been washed out of the picture and reducing Hogwarts and its surrounding hills and countryside to a grim, oppressive shade of gray. And if you've not read the books then the ending will definitely ram the point home - from here on out, Harry stops being the focus of the stories. From now on, this is Voldemort's house.
Pacing again appears to be a problem as time drags on between the three tasks. I know it allows the characters to develop more fully but for those of us wanting to see dragons, broomstick chases and other exciting things, it does feel slower. So too do the romantic subplots between Harry & Cho and Hermione & Ron - all of a sudden, this is starting to feel like a fantasy version of Dawson's Creek. I know it mirrors the books but for those who haven't read them, it feels like a distraction.
Should I watch it?
No longer the family-friendly film the first movie was, Harry Potter has grown and evolved into a much darker franchise. The Goblet Of Fire is a brooding vision of teenage angst, unrequited love and the fulfilment of one's nightmares made real - all this from what used to be a kid's film. It might not have the strongest story but the film's memorable characters - good and bad - and the performances from the cast make this one of the better films in the series.
Great For: Potter fans, teenagers, people who've been waiting for Voldemort
Not So Great For: younger viewers, people who have not experienced Potter before, viewers expecting a lighter film
What else should I watch?
Thankfully, the films would recover some of the lightness that was lost in The Goblet Of Fire but not a great deal. Both The Order Of The Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince feel like filler before the two films that make up The Deathly Hallows which finally gives us what we've wanted all along - all-out war between the forces of good and evil. At least the previous film - The Prisoner Of Azkaban - has a better story and doesn't make you moody when it finishes.
Of course, you'll expect me to recommend The Lord Of The Rings which is a perfectly good alternative fantasy film without being bogged down by soppy teenage relationship issues. But the truth is, they are the better films - each shot is lovingly perfected and given nothing less than 100% attention. As enjoyable as the Harry Potter films are, I'd still rather watch Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Gollum.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox