Monday, July 13, 2009
REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Directed: Mike Newell
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13
During post-production for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, director Alfonso Cuarón was offered the chance to direct the fourth film in the popular wizard series, the Goblet of Fire. Knowing that if he accepted the role, he would have to stop overseeing finishing touches on the Prisoner of Azkaban and instead start production on the Goblet of Fire, he respectfully declined. British director Mike Newell signed on board to direct and with the convincing of Alfonso Cuarón, he talked Warner Bros. into keeping the film to one film instead of going with two feature films. Actor Ralph Fiennes was cast as Lord Voldemort with veteran actor Brendan Gleeson cast as Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody. The Goblet of Fire was also the first Harry Potter film to be hit with a PG-13 rating as opposed to the PG rating of the previous three films.
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns for his fourth year with Hogwarts being host to 'The Tri-wizard Tournament', a magical tournament between three well-known schools of magic: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The contestants have to be above the age of 17, and are chosen by a magical object called Goblet of Fire. On the night of selection, however, the Goblet spews out four names instead of the usual three, with Harry unwittingly being selected as the Fourth Champion. Since the magic cannot be reversed, Harry is forced to go with it and brave three exceedingly difficult tasks.
I personally haven't read the future novels after the third book. I seemed to have moved on and forgotten it. Still, I was able to look around on some sites and most of them reported that the film stays somewhat faithful to the novel. Their are the obvious changes/alterations that we have come to expect, but the main concept is still their. With the Goblet of Fire getting a new director, you can definitely notice how different this film is compared to the one before it. Newcomer to the Harry Potter universe, director Mike Newell sure does bring alot of detail into this fourth chapter in the J. K. Rowling franchise. The story has an interesting plot that's definitely going to lead to some important battles in the later books. Voldemort finally makes an appearance in full form played by Ralph Fiennes, but hes mostly being set up for a bigger role in the next few films. We also get introduced to new characters that are somewhat exciting and somewhat annoying at times. The Goblet of Fire still maintains the humor and spirit of the previous film. You can tell this feels like a PG-13 movie and not some movie just slapped with that rating. The problem with this film compared to the last one is simply the case of the films pacing. Their were times where I felt the scene transitions weren't as smooth and exciting as they were in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Its really nice to see that the cast is getting more mature and delivering emotional performances. Director Mike Newell gives us plenty of character development which results in a more heavy use of dialogue to pass time. We do get some exhilarating scenes which involves The Tri-wizard Tournament. The films direction also feels week in spots compared to the last one with Hogwarts hardly feeling magical at all.
Daniel Radcliffe reprises the role that has launched him into super stardom, Harry Potter. The films are getting darker and alittle scarier. Luckily Racliffe can see what they want from him and delivers on all front. His Harry character has tremendously grown since the first film. He gives a good performance that seems to be getting better and better with each new film. Rupert Grint returns as Harry's funny red haired friend, Ron Weasley. The character of Ron has also grown since the first film. He has a more slightly bigger role in this film than the previous ones. Its also nice to see him struggle his relationship with Harry as it brings more funny tension to the big screen. Emma Watson returns as the lovely, sweet looking Hermione Granger. Watson's character is also growing up and the film makes it look like shes going to end up with Harry. She doesn't have a big role like she did with the last one, but she still has a good amount of screen time. She also tends to be slipping away from being that smart mouth into a more mature lady. The talented Ralph Fiennes plays as Lord Voldemort. Even though he appears during the end of the movie, Fiennes still delivers a villainous performance that's just as creepy and scary as we have all come to expect from his character. His role here is most likely limited due to a bigger appearance in the later films.
The special effects in the Goblet of Fire are just a strong and nicely animated like they were in the last film, the Prisoner of Azkaban. While the effects are impressive in this film, I think I still preferred the effects in the last film because director Alfonso Cuarón blended the effects with is dark vision for the third film. Not to mention that the atmosphere was alot more vivid and alive in the third film compared to this one. Transfer wise, this is an excellent disc. The films source is an great condition and I didn't notice any film grain. Colors are somewhat dark and slightly muted. This is hardly a vibrant and vivid looking film. Everything seems dark and cloudy probably due to the darker storyline. Black levels are quite strong and still hold up well to this day. Flesh tones are spot on perfect and I didn't notice any micro-blocking or any scratches. Detail is greatly improved and the film can tend to look stunning at times. Close ups show alot more detail and clarity this time around. The environments and the type of clothing are really the ones that tend to stand out more.
The soundtrack in the Goblet of Fire is somewhat of a mixed bag. Believe this is a good soundtrack, but it easily fails in comparison to the last film or even the first two films in the series. Composer John Williams, who composed music for the first three films, couldn't find it in his busy schedule to compose the music for this film and believe me, it shows. Theirs hardly any moments in the film where the music makes you feel like your really their. The Harry Potter theme isn't used enough and when it is, it isn't for much long. The soundtrack isn't bad by all means, but it just doesn't deliver the immersive and exciting experience the previous ones did. The bass is hardly anything to complain about. Just like the previous films in the series, the bass in the Goblet of Fire is nothing short of amazing. Even though the film is mostly dialogue driven, theirs still a good amount of action scenes here and their. The bass is alot more dynamic this time and feels more spread out. The dragon sequence sounds loud and pretty clear in terms of noise. This is reference material and another title to sit a top your collection of bang up movies.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is another great instalment in this popular franchise created by author J. K. Rowling. While its story isn't quite as exciting and narrative driven like the Prisoner of Azkaban, it still very interesting. My only grip is the films somewhat off pacing. The story also seems to be moving into a darker conclusion with the start of this film. Theirs plenty of character development so we never tend to lose any interest in the three main characters. The cast is great with many of them delivering a more emotional and strong performance. The special effects are wonderful and The Tri-wizard Tournament is easily the star of the show. The soundtrack although good, seems to be lacking the energy and excitement of the previous films. Bass is nothing short of amazing, but this was expected. I still think the last film, the Prisoner of Azkaban was slightly better than this. I still recommend this to Harry Potter fans simply because its still a great film despite its slight problems.