Review by Mark Walters


 The film opens with Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) awakening from a strange dream, in which he sees through the eyes of an old watchman, who apparently walked in on the villainous Lord Voldemort.  Potter initially writes it off as a nightmare, so he and his schoolmates, Hermoine (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) along with others, head off to Hogwarts for another year.  They're joined by Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), a slightly older classmate.  Upon arriving they're told that there will be a few visiting schools, including Beauxbatons Academy and Durnstrang Institute, who will be competing with Hogwarts in the big TriWizard Tournament.  It's told to be an extremely challenging test of magic skills, that it's quite dangerous, and meant only for older students.  The odds on favorite to win is Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski), who has already proven himself to be powerful competitor.  Harry's name mysteriously ends up being entered in the contest, forcing him to compete despite his wishes.  It causes some distrust between him and Ron, and grave concern from Hermoine.  Even Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) questions Potter, and it isn't long before the whole school starts looking at him strangely.  A new instructor named Alastor 'Madeye' Moody (Brendan Gleeson) seems to take a strong interest in Harry, hoping to coach him for what lies ahead.  Things get more hectic when a nosy reporter named Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson) shows up asking all sorts of pesky questions.  But there is another more sinister plot going on, where Lord Voldemort is slowly regaining strength.  Can Harry survive the tournament, and still manage to stop his powerful enemy from wreaking havoc?

 There's something very strange about watching kids grow up on the big screen.  The young stars of these films have literally done that since the first Potter film in 2001.  That aside, there's just something very entertaining about these movies.  This installment is no exception.  I was one of the few people out there who wasn't crazy about the third HP flick, perhaps because it seemed like such a strong departure from the first two.  I'm happy to say this one feels more like what came before.  Granted it's still very dark, and in many ways the scariest of the series.  But in this outing it feels like things are maturing just like the kids involved.  Romance is an underlying theme, which is only natural among school kids at that age.  Harry becomes infatuated with one of the visiting girls named Cho Chang (Katie Leung, in her first film).  Hermoine begins to show some obvious emotions toward both Harry and Ron, which has been building in the last few films.  There's even a school dance!  One thing I noticed in particular with this film was the movement of story spotlight onto different characters.  For instance, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) only has select moments of screen time, but classmate Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) gets much more than ever.  It's nice to see the story focus on some of the background characters a bit more.  Perhaps the only bad element here comes with the movie's large amount of characters to keep up with.  There are so many in fact, it's inevitable that some will end up seeming a bit underplayed.  The film is directed by Mike Newell, who is a somewhat strange choice in my opinion, considering his previous flicks include titles like DONNIE BRASCO and PUSHING TIN, though it's more likely FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL won him the job.  One thing Newell excels at here is the inclusion of emotion.  There are more than a few scenes that will strike a chord with kids and adults alike.  Like I said before, these films are maturing, and that's a good thing.

 There is also a fascinating multicultural element here, brought on primarily from the visiting foreign schools.  It mixes things up a bit, and keeps the story interesting.  The action sequences are imaginative and exciting.  One scene between Harry and a dragon is extremely cool, and an underwater sequence comes across as very unique later in the movie.  I'm really impressed with the actors here, particularly Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson.  I imagine it's a gamble when casting young thespians for a series of films, as you're hoping they be consistently good as they age.  Thankfully these kids are just that.  The score by Patrick Doyle (no John Williams this time) is competent as well, though it does miss a bit of the magic we've grown accustomed to with the Williams music in previous outings.  I was a little let down at the absence of Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, who only appears briefly as a face in a burning fire.  However I was later pleased to see Ralph Fiennes doing a fine job portraying the evil Lord Voldemort.  Yes, you'll get to see him this time.  I sometimes wonder if kids can keep up with the complicated storylines these films have, and especially in this one whether or not they'd get too scared at the intense visuals.  We've been lucky that these films seem to maintain a strong level of quality every time.  Though I'm anxious to see more, I am curious how much longer folks will be able to accept the leads as "young" students, since age is naturally catching up with them.  Just so you know, I've never read the books, but if they're anything like the films, I can fully understand the fascination everyone has with these stories.  I wouldn't call this my favorite of the series, but it's definitely a close second.

BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE an 8.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
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