film Review

In a nutshell: Harry’s name is drawn from the Goblet of Fire, entering him into the Triwizard Tournament being held at Hogwarts. Cue several life-threatening tasks involving dragons, mermaids and a treacherous maze. When it is discovered that the cup itself is, in fact, a portkey, it transports him and fellow competitor Cedric Diggory to a faraway graveyard resulting in the first major death of the series. Moments later Harry witnesses the rebirth of Lord Voldemort and, after a brief duel, he returns to Hogwarts with Cedric’s body.
 

Before Robert Pattinson was Ed, he was Ced. Cedric Diggory to be exact, one of the participants in the newly restored Triwizard Tournament. Bringing together students of Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, the Tournament begins when three students names are spewed from the titular Goblet of Fire. Of course, this being Harry Potter, there’s a slight hiccup and all eyes are on Harry (dagger eyes to be exact) when his name is the fourth to be released from the Goblet… and Dumbledore is less than happy.

Mike Newell’s Goblet of Fire focuses on a school year taken over by a range of sports that manage to put the Olympics to shame. First up is the Quidditch World Cup where Bulgaria and Ireland are pitted against each other. The joviality of the evening is soon dispersed when a group of Death Eaters appears, disbanding the merry wizards. Next up is Hogwarts’ Triwizard Tournament and, although the introduction of the foreign students is rather abbreviated, the entrances that take their place are, quite literally, awesome. Filled with the cheating and rigging one can expect from any competitive sport, the Tournament makes the transfer from page to screen exquisitely. Harry’s fight against the feared Hungarian Horntail (that’s a dragon for all non-Potterites) is exaggerated and makes for exciting viewing. The following tasks are rather faithful to the book but the removing of the maze’s obstacles may let down some fans.

As we’ve come to expect from the Potter films the casting is outstanding. Joining Harry and co. this time round are Miranda Richardson as the vindictive Rita Skeeter, Eric Sykes as a short-lived nosey neighbour, Roger *Trigger-from-Only-Fools-and-Horses* Llody-Pack as the harassed Barty Crouch, Brendan Gleeson as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher whist David Tennant provides the film with its villain. That is, of course, until Voldemort is reborn in front of our very eyes atop the grave of his father. Ralph Fiennes’s Voldemort, though rather theatrical, compliments the evil wizard of the book and his appearance marks the final departure from innocence for Harry.

We learn here, from Moody, of the three Unforgivable Curses. Introducing some very sinister magic into the saga, the film takes on an even darker tone than that of Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry’s inclusion in the cup is worrying and points toward an attempt to kill him. The development of the story here differs quite drastically to the exposition used in the book. Whereas the discovery of the person behind Harry’s inclusion in the cup came as a great surprise in Rowling’s novel, here it is a little more predictable with the culprit being named from the off. Despite this the film still manages to produce an impressive twist in its final moments. Hermione’s perseverance with S.P.E.W. (House Elf protection to the uninitiated) is, however, a thankful omission but that does mean that Dobby (the House Elf from Chamber of Secrets) is robbed not only of some heroic light but of screen time altogether.

We must admit, Harry’s continued amazement at anything slightly magical has got a little bit wearing now – he’s known he’s a wizard for four years, after all – but he’s forgiven, we’d be pretty overwhelmed if we were confronted by a tardis tent too. We’re met with a rather angry Dumbledore in Goblet of Fire, something we don’t really see in the books. This, mixed with Harry and Ron’s tiff, makes for a more realistic story and helps alienate Harry from his peers.

The film may retain some of the previous film’s light-hearted elements (thanks largely to the Weasleys – Fred and George’s pranks and pitfalls being of particular delight) but with Harry chased by dragons and faced with the very real prospect of drowning, the gaiety of Harry Potter’s one and two one and two is long gone. That doesn’t mean that the students don’t have a chance to let their hair down; the Yule Ball offers them the perfect opportunity for this, as well as providing Rupert Grint the opportunity to hone his comedic prowess. Faced with the prospect of wearing what looks like an ancient curtain, he nonchalantly, and rather crudely, asks Hermione to the ball. With his less than fantastic proposal she amazes everyone with her famous date – Victor Krum, Quidditch seeker for Bulgaria and Durmstrang’s representative at the tournament. Harry faces his own fears and asks love interest Cho Chang to be his date but she too has made plans, leaving Harry and Ron sitting alone by the end of the Ball (… and it’s no wonder they couldn’t get the dates they wanted, none of the characters seemed to have visited the hairdressers this school year).

Goblet of Fire significantly marks a turning point for the saga. With Voldemort’s horrifying return to life, the film serves a powerful (and tear-jerking) end that is countered by the band fare that welcomes Harry back as Triwizard champion, helping impact the importance the night’s events will have on Harry’s remaining years at Hogwarts. The stories only get darker from here on in.

 

Best spell: Adavra Kedavra!
Best character: Ron, for his reaction to his dress robes.
Best newcomer: Mad Eye for having the guts to show his students the Unforgivable Curses.
Best baddie: Ooo, we’re spoiled in Goblet of Fire. Durmstrang have baddie written all over them whilst Tennant’s Crouch Jr. is hugely sinister. None of them can compete, of course, with Voldemort.
Best creature: The Hungarian Horntail.
Best Harry moment: Living to tell the tale after coming face to face with a newly empowered Voldemort.
How did it rate to the book?: Although the film’s run time is over two hours, it had to sacrifice a great number of the book’s best moments including Mr. Weasley blasting his way into the Dursely’s front room, the maze’s various obstacles (the sphinx being a favourite of ours) and, thankfully, Hermione’s endeavours with S.P.E.W. Sirius only makes a brief appearance here (nothing is mentioned about his stay in the nearby cave) whilst the early exposition costs the finale some of its surprise.
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