Film Review: 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' (2005)
As part of the countdown for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, next up on my rewatch is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
This was the pivotal turning point for the book series in a lot of ways, and it apples just as much to the film. The scale of the world really starts to open up. The young kids are growing into teenagers, and we see their character dynamics change as a result. Among other things, it's where we see them start to become attracted to each other. It's the first film to deal with the sensitive subject of adolescent romance. I'm not that much of a romance fan for the most part, but this film does a pretty good job, I think.
Goblet of Fire is much longer than any of the books before it. As a result, even for a lengthy two-and-a-half-hour film, it had to trim quite a lot out from the book, and thus the film moves along at a brisk pace. The filmmakers actually considered splitting it into two films, which would've been interesting to see. Assuming they would have done the same with Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, it's also interesting to think that this would have been an eleven-movie series instead of eight.
Although part of me would loved to have seen a two-part Goblet of Fire adaptation, part of me also feels that it might not have worked out as well as it did for Deathly Hallows. Keeping Goblet of Fire as one film was probably the right call. Still, it is kind of a shame that so much of the book's content had to be left out.
Regardless, the movie manages to be a lot of fun.
A Contest of Eternal Glory
While the books and films follow an ongoing story, I like how each individual year of Hogwarts has its own mystery. The first time around, it was the mystery of the scary three-headed dog and what it was guarding. Then it was the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets and the Heir of Slytherin. Then it was the mystery of Sirius Black and the supposed death of Peter Pettigrew. This time around, we're left with the question of why Harry's name was chosen for the perilous Triwizard Tournament.
Another thing I like is the constant juxtaposition between comfort and danger. On one hand, Hogwarts Castle looks so cozy. On the other hand, you have things like trolls and three-headed dogs and basilisks and escaped convicts running around. It goes beyond Hogwarts too. Their world in general looks so wonderful and inviting, but also incredibly dangerous.
The Triwzard Tournament itself is an example of this. It's such a cool concept. But, as Dumbledore himself points out, it's not for the faint-hearted. I always felt bad for Harry that he gets chosen for the tournament even though he wants nothing to do with it. That's really one of the things that defines his life in general. He constantly has fame and attention thrust upon him despite never wanting it.
The Curse of the Dark Arts
Most of the characters now are familiar to us. But, as with the other films, we meet a few new faces too. Of particular note is our next new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, Mad-Eye Moody. In the books, it was rumoured that Voldemort had placed a curse on the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts (as he wanted it for himself), meaning that every professor who takes up the position there will never be able to hold it for more than a year, and this is supposedly why the Dark Arts position keeps changing.
This is a strength of J.K. Rowling's writing, at being able to realize such vivid, varied characters. If you look at the Dark Arts professors alone, they're such a diverse, quirky (and in one case, incredibly loathsome) bunch. And they all manage to have a hidden layer to them as well. Quirrel was a meek and seemingly kind man who turned out to have an evil wizard living on the back of his head, Lupin turned out to be a werewolf, etc.
Mad-Eye manages to be both menacing and endearing at the same time. I don't want to give too much away for those who haven't seen the film or read the book, but he's another great character and a solid addition to the story.
During Snape's class, when Harry and Ron are discussing finding dates for the Yule Ball, Snape comes by and smacks them on the head for talking in class. Then Harry and Ron keep talking, Snape notices them again and rolls up his sleeves, and then he grips the back of their heads painfully. The first time I watched this movie and he rolled up his sleeves, I thought he was going to bash their heads together!
The last time I rewatched this film with my mother, when Rita Skeeter first appeared, my mom said out loud, "Oh no, not her!" That about sums it up, doesn't it? Although Rita isn't actually as antagonistic in the film. As with Snape, the films toned her down a lot. I remember she was absolutely horrible in the book; easily one of my most hated characters. Here in the film, she merely comes off obnoxious and nosy and gossipy, but not overtly mean.
I don't want to nitpick over every single thing that was either changed or left out of the books, as I appreciate the films for what they are, and I do think they have a magic all of their own. Still, if there's one thing I wish they had included in the film, it's the full version of the hedge maze, the final Triwizard task. It was more elaborate in the book, with dangerous critters running about, and even a Sphinx that Harry runs into at one point who presents him with a riddle. That would've been cool to see.
This is the first Harry Potter film not scored by John Williams. Patrick Doyle takes the reigns for this one. His score has a distinctly different flavour from John's, but it’s a great listen as well.
All in all
Funny, exciting, charming, dramatic, intense, magical, and ultimately quite heartbreaking, Goblet of Fire is yet another fine installment in the series. Whole-heartedly recommended.
© 2018 Ian Rideout