Blockbuster Movie Month: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" Review

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 157 minutes
Release Date: November 15, 2005
Directed by: Mike Newell
Genre: Adventure / Family / Fantasy

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the fourth movie in the "Harry Potter" franchise, and is based on the book of the same name. This is a huge turning point in the series and touches on a lot of important components of the wizarding world, such as international relations, wizarding entertainment and the Death Eaters. This CGI-heavy film was a box office success when it was released in 2005. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" also explores friendship and betrayal.

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" opens with a trip to the Quidditch World Cup, where wizarding folk from all over the world come to watch the final match of the tournament. This is a wonderful glimpse into international wizarding relations, since the viewer sees foreign wizards interacting with the familiar main cast. The World Cup sequence is brief, but the stunning CGI make it a great introduction to this fantastical film.

The bulk of the film focuses on the Triwizard Tournament, which is a centuries-old, dangerous tournament. Three of Europe's largest wizarding schools come together for risky games involving a champion from each school. This is another example of international relations, and as the movie progresses an interesting relationship between the three schools is revealed.

The heads of the schools know secrets about one another and are willing to cheat to win the tournament, but cheating is seen as a traditional part of the game that is expected and accepted. On the other hand, the students intermingle eagerly, dating and dancing with students from the other schools like normal teenagers.

Easy relationships between the schools' students provide an interesting contrast with how dangerous the tournament is. The wizarding world has a habit of having very dangerous and deadly sports as entertainment, and this tournament is no different, with dragons, merpeople and deadly mazes acting as challenges for the competitors.

These dangerous games give the viewer plenty of eye-candy, however, since they all make use of stunning CGI and special effects. In the first task, the dragon looks real and deadly on the screen and it is easy to fear for Harry's life as he fights. The second task is entirely under water, with flowing digital hair and dangerous underwater creatures.

The second task is also a perfect example of Daniel Radcliffe's dedication to the character. His training underwater makes the scenes look realistic, and his acting integrates well with the CGI. The third task is a great mix of practical CGI and special effects, making the high hedges of the maze look deadly and imposing.

The relationship between the main trio of characters is another key feature of this film. Ron feels betrayed by Harry, and the two suffer a momentary loss of friendship. A lack of sensitivity and empathy causes a rift between Ron and Hermione. Harry struggles with his first crush, missing out on the possibility of a relationship with her.

These three plot elements of the film could easily have been solved by the trio talking about their problems, but the presence of these issues highlights how young they still are. High schools throughout the world see these kinds of issues between friends every day, and having them on screen allows teenage viewers to connect with the characters on a personal level. This gives the movie a lot of extra depth amongst the dominating fantasy elements.

This is a much darker and more mature film than the previous ones in the "Harry Potter" franchise. Death enters the story in a more tangible way than in previous films, and the Death Eaters finally make an appearance. Lord Voldemort, who has so far been a shadowy figure, is thrust into the light.

Even though this film shows the darker side of "Harry Potter," it is still a great family film. This movie has plenty of great laughs and happy, caring moments mixed in with exciting danger, so it is entertaining for the whole family.

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" gives the viewer much more information about the wizarding world and marks the first major turn of the series toward maturity and danger. This film is a wonderful showcase of impressive effects, both computer-generated and props, so it is perfect for anyone interested in movie magic. A must-see for any "Harry Potter" fanatic, this important film is a fresh look on the story written by J. K. Rowling, and though it differs from the book in some aspects it is faithful to the tone and important themes of the novel.