A well-done, visually stimulating, emotionally draining action flick that finally takes Harry Potter out of the family genre and into the place where it needs to be to successfully tell its story, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is probably the best of the series.
Darker, deadlier and more exciting than ever, "Goblet of Fire" serves as the pivotal film where Lord Voldemort returns to power and sets the stage for the last three novels/movies. The comedy is still there, but the catering to younger children is gone and replaced with a PG-13 rating that allows the film to kill off characters, present Voldemort in a way that is not even seen in many horror movies, and start suggesting the physical development of its characters as the hormones start going crazy.
New director Mike Newell, who was an odd choice since his best known films are "Pushing Tin" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral," rises to the occasion. The film isn't quite as visually stimulating as its predecessor, "The Prisoner of Azkaban," but he succeeds brilliantly nonetheless. Not all of the special effects are seamless, but many are, especially those involving the dragon. Choreography is impressive, as is the overall look and feel of the picture.
"Goblet of Fire" moves at a faster pace than the previous movies, aside from the fact that the film reel burned up halfway through the midnight screening - the theater was literally on the verge of riot. "Goblet of Fire" has so much to tell and so little time to do it, which has one negative effect - character development. Ron and Hermione are not given as much screen time here, but more significant was the lack of development for such characters as Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour, and Cedric Diggory, who, given the role that he plays at the end of the film, should have been given more time. The movie definitely assumes you've read the book when it comes to the characters, and hopefully a little more time will be given to them on the DVD.
Nonetheless, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the most emotional, most exciting and most powerful Potter film to date, and they are only going to get more serious from here. Parents should by no means take their young children to see it - just because it's "Harry Potter" don't assume it is for children. The PG-13 rating holds true, especially in two scenes - where Voldemort returns in the form of Ralph Fiennes (excellent), and a disturbing scene that should have been left out where Moaning Myrtle flirts desperately with a naked Harry Potter in a bath to the point where it is so overtly sexual even I was shocked - and I am definitely not a member of the Parents Television Council. This scene really pushed the limits, and given the weird preference of parents where they'd rather have their children watch violence over anything even remotely sexual, I'm surprised it was left in.
Nonetheless, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the best film of the series and is definitely one of the better movies of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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