|Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 07 March 2006|
Harry Potter, everyone’s favorite teen wizard, returns in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the fourth feature film made from J. K. Rowling’s bestselling series. As the film series has progressed, the nature of the stories and the character interactions have turned darker and more menacing, just as they have in the books.
Young Harry has a slew of enemies, some earned by his deceased parents and some earned by his own actions. All of those elements mesh in the latest offering, driving the long movie to a stunning conclusion and whetting the audience’s appetite for the next installment. After all, if Rowling delivers on her vision of seven books to tell Harry’s story at Hogwarts and growth to a young adult, there are only three more films and one more book to go. The world anxiously waits.
By now, everyone knows Harry’s story, of how he is the son of two of the most powerful wizards ever taught at Hogwarts, and how Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) became his archenemy. Raised in an unloving and selfish family of Muggles (ordinary people), Harry didn’t know about his magical nature for years. Then his life was forever altered with his admittance to the school of magic.
In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has his most dangerous challenge yet. The movie opens ominously, with the striking of a match that rips through the subwoofer and trails off through the surround sound system. An old man puts off making tea to investigate the sound of voices. His keys rattle and his footsteps slap against the curving staircase that moviegoers know have to lead to his doom. The voices grow in loudness and tension as the old man nears the room. A giant snake arrives, and the sibilant voice echoes through the surround sound system. Sure enough, the old caretaker meets a bad end.
Chapter 2 opens on Harry having a bad dream. His friend Hermione (Emma Watson) wakes him and their mutual chum Ron (Rupert Grint), calling them to breakfast. In no time at all, they’re magically transported to a magical fair for the new Quidditch (a sport played on broomsticks) World Cup games.
The magical nature of the film continues in Chapter 3 as Harry steps into a tent that is much larger on the inside than it is on the outside. Harry smiles and echoes the thoughts of every fan watching the film: “I love magic.” The thunderous swell of noise from the crowd as they watch the pre-game festivities fills the surround sound system, making us feel as though we’re seated somewhere inside the stadium.
Chapter 4 shifts to after the game as Ron, Hermione, Harry and the others celebrate the game. But skull-faced figures in hooded robes attack the gathering. Harry gets separated from his friends and is struck unconscious. Later, he awakens on the battlefields, surrounded by burning tents and victims. He also sees one of the wizards involved in the attack. Ron and Hermione find Harry as a giant magical symbol writhes in the sky.
In Chapter 5, Harry and his friends are once more on the Hogwarts Express, chugging back to school. They enjoy candy and a quiet moment, and Harry is smitten with female schoolmate Cho Chan, one of the aspects of the films and books that shows he’s growing up. The scene of the arrival at Hogwarts is beautiful. Winged horses swoop in with a carriage and a submerged ship surfaces out in the harbor, carrying students from, respectively, the wizarding schools of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, gathering at Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament. The surround sound system comes into play again as a messenger trots across a large room, going from left to right through the surround sound system. The entrance of the Beauxbatons girls is dramatic and beautifully choreographed and the boys of Durmstrang enter with military precision and a display of warriors’ abilities. They breathe fire creatures that swirl through the surround sound system, crackling first on the right, then through the center, and finally tapering off to the left.
Dinner takes precedence in Chapter 6. Afterwards, the Triwizard Tournament is announced. A storm bellows through the subwoofer, quickly quelled by Moody (Brendan Gleeson), a new teacher at Hogwarts who seems to have a definite interest in Harry. He’s one of the most twisted characters yet to grace the films.
Moody’s class in Chapter 7 is dire and threatening. He begins by speaking about the Three Unforgivable Curses. He quickly puts on a display of the Curses. Again, the BCI effects are topnotch.
Names are put into the goblet in Chapter 8. The twisting blue flames overshadow the scene dramatically. Ron and Harry talk, and Harry says that he has no intention of putting his name into it, even when he’s old enough. The clock strikes ominously, echoing through the subwoofer as the student body is called to witness the champion selection. The names come out, underscored by the magic and sound, overcome immediately by the roaring and applauding crowd. A champion from each school is drawn, but the Goblet isn’t through. It pulses with renewed flame and spits out a fourth name: Harry Potter. The teachers accuse Harry of cheating, but they have to accept that he is a champion.
Chapter 9 shows Harry dealing with the unexpected nomination to the contest. The student body thinks he’s cheated, and Ron is angry with him. Harry is scared and conflicted. The rain falling all around the school hisses through the surround sound system.
Chapter 10 heralds the reporter, Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), covering the magical scene. From the outset, the viewers know she’s going to be trouble. Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) sends Harry a note in Chapter 11, then speaks to him from a fireplace. Teacher/groundskeeper Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) meets with Harry in Chapter 12, offering Harry some insight into the nature of dragons, which will be the first test the champions face.
During the test with the dragons in Chapter 14, the roars of the creatures scream through the surround sound system. The subwoofer lights up regularly. Hermione gets caught with Harry, which provides even more fodder for the media. Again, the special effects make the movie a feast of visual treats.
In Chapter 15, Ron comes back into Harry’s camp, and the moment shared between the two friends is heartwarming. Harry sits down to uncover the second riddle, the one concerning a golden egg. In addition, Harry is suddenly becoming popular in the school. Even more trying, the boys have to take dancing lessons to get ready for the school ball. In Chapter 16, Ron and Harry lament trying to find dates, and their nervousness is fantastically real.
The pomp and splendor of the ball in Chapter 17 is given more weight by the music, strong and loud through the surround sound system. Hagrid’s own infatuation comes to the forefront. Then a Billy Idol-like riff slams through the system. In Chapter 18, Harry has another nightmare about the return of Voldemort. The scream of the golden egg explodes sonically as Harry tries to solve its riddle.
The underwater contest in Chapter 19 is a mix of danger and adventure as Harry has to rescue his friends, as well as one of the contestants. The scenes are awesome, beautiful and eerie. The stakes of the Triwizard Tournament continue to elevate, and Harry Potter is caught at the eye of the storm.
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is one of the best films in the franchise so far. Continuing on with the theme of friendship and destiny, the film shows more of the dark and dangerous struggle Harry is eventually going to have to deal with as he battles his nemesis. Only this time the wages of those struggles end in death.
The DVD is a great rental for family night, and a definite must-have for fans of the series, whether books or movies. Unfortunately, the disc comes with no extras, so the decision to buy the DVD will ultimately be for the movie itself. At some point, though, a bonus edition will have to be released. Then, perhaps, fans can watch the magic that truly took place behind the scenes.