December 07, 2005
It’s a movie that you’ll love or not love. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire invites that kind of a reaction. A mere 2 hours plus, coming from the thickest book of the series so far—it might come as a let down for those who expected everything in the book to be on screen.
I must admit, after Prisoner of Azkaban (which, for me, is still the best of all the films thus far), I was ready to be greatly disappointed especially after I discovered that it would be Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) who would be directing and not Alfonso Cuaron (Y tu mama tambien). But, surprisingly, I was not disappointed. . . I even liked Goblet.
It’s a coming of age film—and all the characters (especially the trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) age nicely. Daniel Radcliffe inhabits the Harry Potter role quite well and Emma Watson will break many hearts.
More than a children’s book and story now, Steve Kloves manages to make this installment darker and quite exciting, even if you already know what’s supposed to happen (having read the book). The “re-incarnation” of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is quite startling and courageous—because the scene is very dark and would definitely scare away some of the younger viewers who are the natural readers of the books. But Newell and Kloves manage to balance the scene quite well (although I didn’t particularly like the short speech by Voldermort about ‘love’ being the ultimate weapon and “old magic”—it sounded like a rip-off of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, particularly when Aslan resurrects; but I digress).
I must admit I was more interested in how Newell would handle the developing relationship between Ron and Hermione and Harry and Cho Chang (newbie Katie Leung); this is where Newell excels. And he shows his deft touch here with these teeners—there is chemistry, there is sexual tension and there is that mystery as well as excitement as you realize that Hermione and Harry will always just be “buddies” even if they do look good together and that Ron and Hermione will be “it.” A scene that is in the film but not in the book tips it off—Hermione venting her frustration at Ron’s inability to express himself after her exciting date with Victor Krum at the Yule ball. George Lucas can learn a few things from Newell about sexual tension and keeping things subtle (compare Lucas’s sledgehammer treatment of the relationship between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala).
The effects are, of course, very good but what I liked about it is that there were no gratuitous effects. After four movies, the franchise has finally found its niche; despite different directors, Harry Potter has managed to not only remain consistent but also produce exciting installments. After Cuaron and Newell (forget Columbus), Harry Potter has finally gotten off to cruising speed. Hopefully, with Order of the Phoenix, it can soar higher.
I liked Goblet of Fire, despite Newell. Hopefully Cuaron can come back to direct Order of the Phoenix; now that would be a blast.