Part 2.5: The Happy Mediums Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The 4th Harry Potter film finds itself in the comfy position of #3 on my personal favorites list, and also the second of the “Happy Mediums” – the films that found a groove between being completely fair and reasonable adaptations of the marvelous source material, and at the same time, good, entertaining movies that can stand on their own, if need be.
Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Prince of Persia, Four Weddings and a Funeral) took over the directing reins for the fourth film, and seems to exist in a middle ground between Columbus and Cuaron. He was able to showcase the growth of the characters and give the film its own look and feel, but reign in some of that unique director vision, allowing the Harry Potter world to just be what it is.
Goblet is a massive book (approximately 700 pages, depending on the edition), and a favorite of many. It’s the last hurrah, in a way, before the series take a dark, much more adult turn, and the film captures this all perfectly. It’s fun and adventurous, adding new characters, ideas, and places to the awesome world, all before the dire, tragic end that leaves readers/viewers knowing things will never be the same.
Steve Kloves penned the script for the fourth time, and it had to present the biggest challenge, up to that point. The book is stuffed with action, characters, and details, which don’t feel like too much while reading – on the contrary, it’s like you can’t get enough. Obviously, there’s no way in hell that’s all fitting into 2 1/2 hours on-screen, so there are many, many things left out or changed (Winky and Dobby’s stories – gone, the Barty Crouch details – changed, some omitted). However, they kept in enough things of importance that will matter later (the lesson about the Unforgivable Curses, the wizard council scene through Dumbledore’s Pensieve), and miraculously, Kloves managed to weave a majorly enjoyable film that still does the book justice. Had I been a fiend back then, seeing this film would have given me hope that the future, humongous books would all be given same treatment (I would have been wrong, but more on that in the weeks to come).
This film is great because it hits on every emotion. The effects are light years better than the prior films. The kids continue to grow into their roles, and do better here than ever before. Robert Pattinson is the perfect Cedric Diggory. His death scene is intense and extremely moving – as it should be. Brendon Gleeson is a rockin’ Mad-Eye Moody. The graveyard battle between Harry and Voldy is scary, awesome, disturbing, and makes me cry, every time.
In all honesty, I wish Newell had continued to direct the rest of the films. I think he captured the magic and adventure, action sequences, along with the darker, ominous parts of the story, superbly. His style, along with the balance found by Kloves’ script, cements this film as my third favorite.
- Prisoner of Azkaban – the best
- Goblet of Fire
- Chamber of Secrets
- Sorcerer’s Stone
- TBA – the worst