Harry Potter Boxset Books
The Complete Collection
by J.K. Rowling
(Discounted Hardcover from Amazon)
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
The overriding principle in adapting this series to the screen has obviously been the demand to "get everything in" (from the book's 734 pages). And, while this approach might not make for the best structured movie, it's an insurance policy against disappointing the fan base. But, the only thing that seems to suffer is the sudden introduction of characters with no preparation, and disappear with scant explanation.
The screenwriter and director (Mike Newell and Steve Kloves, respectively) are, of course, depending on what the viewer has read in the novels, a shortcut that would, in a less universally read work, portend disastrous consequences for the movie. Here, with the worldly readership numbers so vast and the intensity of the following, the calculation works despite an awkward cut or disappearing act here or there. Nothing's going to "dispell" this adaptation's boxoffice magic.
There are many things, besides familiarity with the creations of author J.K. Rowlings and the previous film chapters ("The Prisoner of Azkaban," e.g.), to ensure success. Visionary imagery, fanciful concepts, colorful characters both evil and virtuous, brilliant no-cost-too-great digital effects, and the bracing pace of the contest against evil are all quite enough by themselves to overpower a little temporary confusion for the uninitiate.
One pleasure of the film version comes from seeing how the Hollywood artists and craftspeople give the powerhouse story three dimensional life and shape and this installment doesn't disappoint.
Much revolves around contests in this series and, in this 4th installment, Albus Dumbledore (a very fine Michael Gambon) starts us off with his announcement that Hogwarts will host the interschool Triwizard Tournament in a time-honored tradition. The competition consists of surviving three life-threatening tasks. The first place winner gets the Triwizard Cup and the honors that go with it.
The contestants from the three major wizarding schools are to be chosen by no less than the Goblet of Fire, into which all who would compete deposit their names. Enter the girls of the Beauxbatons Academy in their classy caped dresses, and the brooding, athletic boys of Durmstrang Institute. But, there's an age limit, and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) aren't qualified. Which comes as a relief to the angst-filled Harry who is being distracted by a whole different problem.
Why, then, during the candle-lit ceremony in which the athletic Viktor Krum of Durmstrang (Stanislav Janevski), the gorgeous Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy) of Beauxbatons, and Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) of Hogwarts are chosen as the representatives of their schools, does the Goblet then choose Harry as a fourth competitor? His denials of having sneaked his name into the goblet go, at first, unbelieved, and he's condemned by his friends for the poor quality of his ethics.
The nasty faceoffs with potentially lethal consequences that Harry is now obliged to perform divert him from the nightmare visions that are increasingly filling his mind with a great disturbance, as though a sinister force grows closer and more real. The images suggest approaching evil just as the Dark Mark, the whispy apparition of skull and snake of the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) appears in the skies over Quidditch. Why now? And, how? It's been 13 years since that archfiend was thought to have been permanently thwarted from ever appearing again.
Harry's fears elicit the companionship of his friends and the guidance of his counselors, most forcibly by Dumbledore and the new professor in "Defense Against the Dark Arts," Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (Brendan Gleeson). Now a teenager, hormonal attractions begin to show up, too, such as Harry catching the eye of Cho Chang (Katie Leung), feeling new impulses, and trying to invite her to the Yule Ball. Certain urges are showing up all over the institution as puberty vies with divination.
As a contestant with a backlog of notoriety, Harry becomes the focus of muckraking journalist Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), her magic and scandal-seeking interview pen, and her poisonous gossip column. Harry's also solaced, in a hot tub visitation, by Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson), a half visible spright with an influential manner. But nothing, in the end, keeps him from facing his fears, and the gut-clenching evil of his worst enemy.
Every actor holds his and her own in these parts as, under Newell's command of the material and the Rowlings-inspired creations, they exhilarate us in a flood of high imagination and art. While not every character populating Rowling's pages survived the 147 minute final cut, Newell sees to it that those that did pay their way in the full realization of their invention.
The greatest compliment that I can bestow on the movie is that, at the end, I was surprised. The 147 minutes just slipped away, magically.
The Soundtrack Album