Harry Potter in Review: The Goblet of Fire
Director: Mike Newell
Cast: The usual bunch of weirdo cross-dressers, plus Brendan Gleeson and Doctor Who.
Plot: When the Tri-Wizard Tournament comes to town it brings with it some international wizarding students and new series of threats.
Review: IF any Harry Potter book was going to make an epic movie it was going to be this one. From the Quidditch World Cup to the spectacle of the events that Harry partakes in during the tournament, the Yule Ball and the rise of the Dark Wizard Voldemort, you’d have to be an idiot to mess it up. Sadly, an idiot seems to have done just that.
This movie could not have turned out much worse, from unusual set design, to a rushed narrative and changes from the original text that are downright baffling. The first clue that the director hasn’t been using the grey matter is early in the film, when Potter and friends attend the Quidditch World Cup. After an extensive build up to the event and an introduction to a character that will reappear later we get to watch absolutely none of the match. After a huge build-up there’s…nothing. A cut away to later that evening.
They really didn’t need to show much of the match to make it a memorable sequence. Two minutes max of the high speed Quidditch in action, the strength of Krum…anything at all would’ve worked. This is a complete waste of a gift-wrapped cinematic spectacle.
Speaking of which, there’s some really strange handling of the three tasks that make up the Tri-Wizard tournament. Newell seems to take the approach that the scenes needed a forced feeling of epic scale that is brought about in the set design and costumes and over-the-top CGI instead of working with what was available. The lake scene looked cool in the trailer with the big platforms in the middle of the lake but in the final product the scene was totally unmemorable. Pointless changes, like having Harry kill a dragon for the heinous crime of protecting her children only serves as a distraction and totally out of character.
Speaking out of character, it’s very odd how many characters suddenly slip into being the comedic relief at any given time. Mad-Eye Moody, supposedly the hard-arse in this film, suddenly shifts into hiccuping drunk mode for the Yule Ball. And for some reason I will never be able to fathom, Madam Maxine after being depicted as a dignified woman picks a bug out of Hagrid’s hair and eats it! Why on earth does she do that?! It’s not only these pointless comedy routines where the characters drop their established role. Dumbledore getting up in Harry’s face and yelling at him is kinda odd and almost all the young characters are interchangeable.
In addition to this potentially being the most visually epic film in the series it marked the first time the romantic relationships start to blossom. This is another feature left by the wayside as the pivotal moment, the Yule Ball, is given over to bug eating, wacky drunks and the out of place sight of young wizards moshing to a wizard rock band.
The over-all feel is one of a movie that is trying to delivering on what the marketing department wanted without any clear sense of purpose directed by a man without the ability to deliver on the scale. Some of it is ridiculous, some of it is awkward (the close-up on the butts of school age girls is kinda uncomfortable, especially as they had been farting butterflies a moment before) and very little of it is actually entertaining.
Score: TWO outta TEN