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This film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s fourth “Harry Potter” book is fantastically darker and more mature than its predecessors.
Darker, a little more mature, and a little less magical, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” primarily deals with rejection and hormones as Harry and his friends struggle through transition from childhood to young adulthood. This motion picture focuses on the Hogwarts students in the seemingly awkward stage of their youth.
The film’s look is less ostentatious than the previous installments. This time, things are more intimate and real. With the exceptions of a Quidditch stadium and some dragons and mermaids, it tones down on special effects. Yet, it enchants and satisfies its followers and its now grown-up fans.
Some familiarity with the world of “Harry Potter” through the books or through the first three movies is necessary for a better appreciation of this picture. Director Mike Newell gives this realm of fantasy adventure a dark, more human look with due respect to what has already been established by his predecessors.
Although a year older and wiser, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) currently suffers from strange dreams about his arch-enemy Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). He surprisingly becomes a wild card, an underaged competitor, in a dangerous interschool wizardry competition. Harry wonders if there are forces conspiring against him as his name gets released from the Goblet of Fire while Hogwarts hosts the Tri Wizard Tournament. The champion wizards from the participating schools compete against one another for eternal glory — Fleur Delacour (Clemence Posy) of Beauxbatons Academy, Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) of Durmstrang Institute, and Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) and Harry Potter of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
As the longest of J.K. Rowling’s first four “Harry Potter” books, this two-hour cinematic version highlights the World Cup and the Tri-Wizard Tournament, focusing more on the tournament and the more human side of the students including the Yule Ball, first dates, school rumors, young love, and other teenage issues.
Hermione Granger’s (Emma Watson) other side is given more attention in this tale. If she has long been known as the diligent and excelling Gryffindor student with muggle parents, this time, she turns into a beautiful young woman attracting a fair amount of male attention, including the famed foreigner champion athlete Viktor Krum and Harry’s green-eyed buddy Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). The senior characters Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Prof. McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Prof. Snape (Alan Rickman), and Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) are given few but significant screen time. The most scenes for the senior characters are given to the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the man with a free-floating left eyeball, Prof. Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson).
Fiennes’ portrayal of the evil wizard doesn’t seem all that ominous, and is in fact, a bit disappointing. His followers, the Death Eaters, seem far more sinister than him. Being the Dark Lord seen in his human form for the first time, he isn’t a very terrifying figure. The ending also becomes a bit too fast. On a further subjective note, a little more suspense-thrilled and dramatic climactic fight between Harry and Voldemort could have been more heart pumping.
The film maintains its high ranks in production design and cinematography. Its dark presentation gives justice to the story. The visuals offer whimsical and ominous enjoyment for imaginative minds. The musical score works its magic on screen. It bursts from brass-heavy orchestration to a scream of strings to that well-known Harry Potter stinger. Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and Phil Selway also appear as a rock band during Hogwarts’ Yule Ball.
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is more human, but magically enthralling nonetheless. It is “more adult” compared to the previous installments and this fits its growing audience. Overall, it is still faithful to the book. Despite being “less magical” compared to the previous “Harry Potter” offerings, enough sights and sounds stir the audience’s enchanted imaginations.