Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


Rating 2¼

Directed by Mike Newell

Written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J K Rowling

Starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort), David Tennant (Barty Crouch Junior), Brendan Gleeson (Alastor ‘Mad Eye’ Moody), Robert Hardy (Cornelius Fudge), David Lloyd Pack (Barty Crouch), Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew / Wormtail), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Warwick Davis (Filius Flitwick), Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley), Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory), Stanislav Ianevski (Viktor Krum), Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour), Katie Leung (Cho Chang), Frances de la Tour (Madame Olympe Maxime), Miranda Richardson (Rita Skeeter), David Bradley (Argus Filch), Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle) and Eric Sykes (Frank Bryce)

An old gardener called Frank Bryce disturbs Lord Voldemort, Peter Pettigrew and an unnamed figure and is killed. Harry goes with the Weasley family and Hermione to the Quidditch World Cup, but the camp in which they are staying is attacked by mysterious hooded figures. Barty Crouch of the Ministry of Magic accuses Harry, Hermione and Ron of conjuring up a Dark Mark. Hogwarts School is hosting the Triwizard Tournament, in which a wizard from Hogwarts competes with wizards from two rival schools to complete three dangerous tasks. The goblet of fire chooses the competitors, a decision that cannot be reversed afterwards, and selects a fourth name, Harry Potter, even though he is too young to compete. Albus Dumbledore asks Alastor ‘Mad Eye’ Moody, the new professor of the Defence against the Dark Arts, to watch over Harry. Harry does compete in the tournament, briefly becoming estranged from his best friend Ron, but there are dark forces at work and he must face up to Voldemort.


‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ is the fourth book and film in the series. I enjoyed the third film quite a lot more than the first two, something that might be down to the change of director from Chris Columbus to Alfonso Cuarón, the Academy Award-nominated Mexican director, screenwriter and producer who gave ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ a noticeably darker edge than the previous two films. ‘The Goblet of Fire’ marks another change of director to Mike Newell, the first English director to work on the films. His previous credits include ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘Donnie Brasco’ and ‘Mona Lisa Smile’. Cuarón had faced some criticism for his approach to the third film and it does have the lowest box office gross of the five films to date, although J K Rowling is said to consider it her favourite instalment in the film series and he did apparently express an interest in directing another Harry Potter film. I think it’s a shame that he was not on board for ‘The Goblet of Fire’, which is a definite step backwards in many ways and, I thought, very messy and unfocused in places. Newell has talked about the problem of compressing the book into a coherent film and a number of key scenes from the book were cut during this process.

The first thirty minutes or so disappointed me greatly, but once the triwizard challenges begin it does pick up a little bit, although Brendon Gleeson’s “Mad Eye” Moody, who plays a central role here, proves to be a strangely disappointing character much of the time. The story deals with puberty and the fact that Harry, Hermione and Ron are now growing up. Harry and Ron are faced with the challenge of finding dates for the traditional Yule Ball. Harry finally builds up the courage to ask Cho Chang, but leaves it too late, even though she had clearly been waiting for him to ask. In the end she has said yes to another offer. Ron refuses to believe Hermione when he clumsily asks her and she turns him down, saying she already has a date. At the ball itself she becomes very upset, shouting at him that he has ruined everything because it took him so long to ask her, by which time she had accepted another offer. All three end up having a miserable time, in stark contrast to the usually hapless Neville Longbottom, another student from Gryffindor, who has a splendid time.

I found the climactic confrontation between Harry and Voldemort decidedly underwhelming, perhaps not helped because the preceding scenes in the magical maze, which should and could have been so much better, are ruined by being shot in virtually complete darkness. These scenes should be creepy and unsettling, but I just ended up squinting at my television screen, trying to make out what was going on. The film then ends on an unexpectedly low key note, as Hermione observes that nothing will ever be the same again.

Albus Dumbledore, the aged and wise headmaster of Hogwarts, had been played by Richard Harris in the first two films. His health was in sharp decline by the time of ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ and he apparently only reprised the role because his ten-year-old granddaughter refused to ever speak to him again if he did not. Harris died on 25 October 2002 from Hodgkin’s disease, his death coming before ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ had opened in cinemas in America. Michael Gambon, another acclaimed Irish actor, assumed the role of Dumbledore from the third film onwards. Gambon deliberately approached the role from a different angle so that his interpretation of Dumbledore is quite different to that of Harris. I think I prefer the Harris interpretation.

‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ has an 88% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 213 reviews. It had a whopping production budget of $150 million and grossed nearly $896 million at the box office worldwide, the highest gross since the first film.

Review posted 16 July 2009


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