Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

19 Feb

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Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Harry Potter may still be wide-eyed to every new magic element he observes around him, but he has gotten used to a lot of Hogwarts activity. He joins in with his friend Ron and his brothers as they chant for their favorite seeker in the famous Quidditch team (as we learn, Quidditch is a wizard-national sporting event now not just confined to Hogwarts) or when he’s learned almost every spell he can use with his wand. At age 14, he’s almost gotten used to Hogwarts School, but nothing can prepare him for what he has to encounter in the fourth “Harry Potter” film, entitled “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

Not only is he for some unknown reason (unknown until the end of the film, anyway) chosen for the extremely dangerous Tri Wizard Tournament, but he later discovers that Lord Voldemort is on the rise. Even scarier, especially for a 14-year-old, is working up the courage to ask a girl to the Yule Ball.

It seems as though the “Harry Potter” series is getting darker and darker with each new installment. It really makes me wonder what will be in store for us in the final installment. This film ends with a setup to something even bigger. It also includes the line near the end muttered by Dumbledore, “Dark and difficult times lie ahead, Harry.” The foreshadowing is terrific.

But way before that, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his best friends Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are in their fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with only three years to go after this. Things are changing, for sure. Harry is having nightmares of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) returning after many, many years; Ron is more nervous than usual; and Hermione is becoming a beautiful young woman (though still the intelligent bookworm). This year, there is a Tri Wizard Tournament to be held at Hogwarts, in which champion wizards from different schools (and different countries, I might add) compete for victory. Their names are drawn from the enchanted Goblet of Fire which chooses the winners to compete in the tournament. One is a tough-looking Quidditch seeker, another is a nice guy, and the other is a beauty queen—they are all 17 years old, which is a requirement for this tournament. But something weird is happening—Harry Potter’s name is drawn from the Goblet of Fire. He’s only 14 and he didn’t put his name in the goblet, but there’s nothing he can do about it.

So now he’s fighting for his life in this tournament—he fights a fire-breathing dragon, he must stay underwater for an hour to retrieve something from vicious (and ugly) merpeople, and go through a treacherous hedge maze that Jack Nicholson would have lost his mind in. He also befriends a weird new teacher who teaches defense against the dark arts (isn’t there always a new teacher in that class?)—This is Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson), a mysterious man with a robotic left eye that works as a zoom lens. But his biggest worry is finding a girl to ask to the Yule Ball. The scenes in which Harry and Ron attempt to find dates are so refreshing that it almost outshines the excellent action sequences with the dragon and the mermaids. It resembles the best of high school comedies…with young wizard crushes.

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” has finally earned a PG-13 rating in the series. The tone is darker than usual and the action is more intense. But as they were with the past three films, the action sequences are amazing—particularly the sequence in which Harry battles a dragon. The computer animation again works very well.

This is not a stand-alone film—the film reaches its final half in which Lord Voldemort makes himself seen for the first time as a whole (we only saw his face in the first film). We are not disappointed—he is pale, bald, ominous, and threatening. Ralph Fiennes makes an intriguing, terrifying villain that will make Voldemort even more so in later installments. He sets up his plotting for later installments in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione may eventually have to fight him in an epic battle. That’s one I can’t wait for. What I’m really concerned about is what will happen until that battle.

Oh, I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention another funny new character—Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), the gossip columnist for the Daily Prophet who doesn’t stop until she gets her story. Richardson really makes the most of her limited role; she’s fantastic. I should also mention a nice touch at the Yule Ball—a sweet little relationship between the gentle half-giant Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) and Madame Maxine (Frances de la Tour), who is even taller.

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is a solid entertainment—it nicely blends fantasy with teenage comedies. The characters are growing and it will be nice to see them continue to grow until the “Harry Potter” series is over.

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