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"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" Movie Review

The Fourth Outing is Good, But Not Great

By

Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"

© Warner Bros. Pictures
It was bound to happen. Each “Harry Potter” movie prior to “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” was able to outdo its immediate predecessor, but the odds were stacked against that trend continuing with every film in the series. Unfortunately, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is a step down from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in both production and entertainment value.

We pick up the story at a particularly dangerous time in the lives of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. Followers of the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) have made their presence known by disrupting the Quidditch World Cup. To make matters worse, the three friends are going through that special blend of pleasure and pain we all have to endure as we enter adolescence and leave childhood behind. Budding wizards or not, that’s a lot to handle for anybody.

The plot thickens as Harry finds himself mysteriously selected to be the fourth competitor in the Triwizard Tournament, a prestigious event that was supposed to only have three entrants and which was only open to students 17 and over. Someone entered Harry’s name into the competition but his best friend Ron doesn’t believe that, which causes a rift between the two close friends. Ron thinks Harry kept his plan a secret and finagled his way into getting a spot in the Triwizard Tournament all on his own. Harry didn’t, but Ron stubbornly refuses to believe the truth.

Meanwhile, Harry has more to worry about than his friendship with Ron. Harry has to prepare to take on the difficult challenges of the tournament, including doing battle with a fierce fire-breathing dragon. He also must do something even more frightening – find a date to the Yule Ball.

This fourth film of the series never drew me in and in fact, I had a rough time becoming involved again in the lives of the three main characters. I realize the kid wizards are growing up and finding members of the opposite sex as appealing as studying at Hogwarts, but the magic is missing from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is a more standoffish (for lack of a better term) film than the previous three, holding its audience at a distance for the majority of the picture until the last 25 minutes, which is almost too little too late.

Instead of allowing you into the confines of Hogwarts and the lives of its inhabitants emotionally, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” seems to instead insist on being a special effects extravaganza. And for the first time in the series, those special effects dwarfed the actors. For the first time, the CGI stood out clearly to the point it’s an easy task - and not just in the flight sequences or the scenes with the dragons - to figure out what was computer generated. The effects are too invasive. The actors play second fiddle, and that’s not how I like my “Harry Potter” movies.

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint still fit the roles of Harry, Hermione, and Ron perfectly. They’re comfortable in the parts and we’re comfortable watching them. You can’t lay blame with the film’s shortcomings on those three. They are definitely growing up before our eyes, but they’re not so much older than their characters that it makes much of a difference yet. The lack of connection didn’t come from the actors; it came from a script that holds the audience at arm’s length.

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” looks and feels staged. The world of Harry Potter normally embraces moviegoers, but this time around there’s a frustratingly impenetrable wall between the world of wizards and us ordinary muggles.

Despite its faults, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is still a decent film and one that's sure to please most Potter fans. I just wish there was more emphasis on the humans in the film and less on the computer generated effects.

GRADE: B-

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" was directed by Mike Newell and is rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.

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