Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Alfonso Cuaron didn’t want to do the next Harry Potter film, and so producers turned to the first Brit to direct, Mike Newell, who was best known for the 1994 romantic comedy (and Best Picture nominee) Four Weddings and a Funeral and 1997 critical darling Donnie Brasco. Newell had slipped a bit since that point, coming out with the fun but underseen Pushing Tin and the reviled Mona Lisa Smile. So, he didn’t really have a “worked with children” pedigree, but he was a known British director and the kids were now well into their teens anyway.
This is the “turning point” of J.K. Rowling’s seven-book series, as things start to get darker. It was considered at the time by many to be the most beloved of the series (although I think The Half-Blood Prince probably holds that throne now, just speaking from my own experience and with no basis in fact) and it’s easy to see why. Harry Potter is finally getting into some grown-up territory and school is becoming less and less and important in the scope of the world’s events.
This chapter starts off with a World Quidditch Cup. I haven’t discussed Quidditch in the previous reviews but I think anyone reading this review knows the role Quidditch plays in the Potter movies and books: pure, mindless fun, with the occasional plot point thrown in. The plot point here is that the Death Eaters have arrived again, followers of Voldemort and a sign that he may be regaining strength. Is it any surprise that Potter’s rival Draco Malfoy’s (Tom Felton) father Lucius (Jason Isaacs) is one of these?
Things are different at school this year, too. There is no quidditch to be played. Instead, two other schools make Hogwarts their home as they compete in the Triwizard Tournament, a series of dangerous events in which one of the schools’ representatives will be able to hoist a trophy and have bragging rights over the other schools.
Only students 17 and older can join due to the danger, and Beauxbatons’ Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy), Durmstrang’s Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevsky), along with Hogwarts’ Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) are chosen by the Goblet of Fire when they enter their names. Somehow, 14-year-old Harry Potter’s name also gets spit out by the goblet, even though he never tried to enter, and by all means shouldn’t have been able. But, he is thrust into the competition because the Goblet’s choice becomes an unbreakable magical contract.
The new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Alaster “Madeye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson) might be involved with Harry’s mysterious entry, but why does he want Potter to be involved in the tournament? With Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) on the rise, what lies ahead for Harry in the Triwizard Tournament? And even more scary, how will Harry deal with young love and Cho Chang (Katie Leung), who is going with nice-guy Cedric Diggory (what a jerk!) to the Triwizard Ball, the biggest hormonal mixer he’s yet faced!
Of course this is a fun ride. Harry Potter is growing up, and he’s dealing with more adult material, and with Voldemort finally recovering, a showdown is in the works. Mike Newell continued where Cuaron left off, and this is an enjoyable special effects spectacle with another strong story from Rowling, once again winningly adapted by Steve Kloves. It has imagination, fun, and intrigue, what else could you want? Well, if you’re a fan of the books, every single last a, an, and the in the novel.
This movie went on to gross $290 million in the winter of 2005 and nearly $900 million worldwide, pushing the Potter films well over $3 billion. It is the second highest-grossing of the series, number 3 of its year (behind Star Wars Episode III and the first Chronicles of Narnia), and currently sits at 10th worldwide all-time. That means all 4 Harry Potter movies are in the top 20 all-time gross worldwide. With The Order of the Phoenix being released just before Potter fans can get their hands on the 7th and final book, you can bet that the success will continue.
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