Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Director: Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Donnie Brasco, Pushing Tin)
Writer: Steven Kloves (screenplay)
             J.K. Rowling (novel)
Production: Warner Bros.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Brendan Gleeson
MPAA Rating:PG-13
read my spoiler disclaimer

     I guess being only a mere muggle, I will never understand the greatness everyone seems to think is Harry Potter. I got through the second book (barely) and was fairly bored. The first two films didn't really do it for me, so I never saw the third - even though it is supposed to be much better and darker than the previous attempts. So I walked into "Goblet of Fire" with much trepidation. I never read the book so I can't attest to the film's faithfulness to the source text. I do know that the book is thick, so I'm sure the film was edited for length, but that's all I can say for sure. From here on out, I'm reviewing a film, not it's comparisons, or lack thereof, to the book. Again, I'm no Potter fan, so I was afraid I was in for a long boring story...again. For the first 30 minutes or so, my fears were laid to rest.

      The locations and effects are magnificent. Not that I would expect anything less from a magical kingdom, but seriously, everything was so grandiose and eye-popping. But then they weren't used very well. One of the first great spectacles is the gigantic arena where the World Cup of Quiddich (I don't know how to spell it, nor do I really care) is played. We zoom overhead, see some of the players zooming around on their broomsticks, gasp in awe at the enormity of the crowd and their excitement. I was thinking, "this is going to be sweet." Then we cut away to Harry and friends celebrating after the match. We got to see none of the game. This was a big let-down straight away.

      "Well, I know there are going to be dragons and mazes and what-not later - that will make up for it," I thought. I was wrong. We soon learn a contest is set to begin soon for the different wizard/witch schools - the "Tri-Wizard Tournament;" one player per school, the winner to receive eternal glory (whatever that means) and some stupid cup. Of course Potter is selected and we find that the players must finish three tasks quicker than the other contestants to claim the name of winner. I'm not going to go over the whole story line, but each of these tasks takes about ten minutes of film time each. This is what made the trailer look interesting and actually got me to waste a Friday afternoon seeing this film. I was so disappointed. Not only that, but they are spread out through days. Each task takes place days after the last. I thought it was going to be one long endurance challenge. But no. Although I'll give credit to the afore mentioned dragon scene. Though short, it was pretty cool. I just wished that they had highlighted it more in the movie instead of making it look like it was just there to promote some inevitable spin off video games, like some dragon games online. On top of the tournament, Harry begins to suspect a sinister plot against him (of course), and with his friends by his side, he must dscover the secret to the treachery that lies within the walls of Hogwarts.

     The filmmakers do manage to make a huge deal out of the dance that takes place. A full 30-40 minutes is spent with the totally irrelevant and pointless acts of the kids getting over their fear of asking the girls to the dance, dance lessons with a professor, then the ball itself. NONE OF THIS HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY! As soon as the dance was over, we went back to the competition. It was as if this whole dance thing was thrown in to lengthen the film to 2 and a half hours. I suppose it contributed to some charcter development and setting up for the next book/film, but otherwise, it just made me squirm in my seat.

      The acting. Fine. Can't say much more than that. The adults are the only ones worth mentioning, yet none of them have more than a few lines (with the exception of Brendan Gleeson's role of Alastor 'Mad�Eye' Moody). The kids are okay. Not horrible, but not good either. Fortunately, everyone knows them already as the characters they portray. It seems to me though that they are getting a little old for the roles, although like I said, I didn't read the book, so I don't know what the correct ages should be; plus, it would be weird to change the actors after three movies have been completed before this one. I do wish Alan Rickman had a few more scenes, but whatever.

      Maybe the kid in me is slowly dying, but I didn't enjoy myself much at all today in the theater. I was glad when the lights came up and the credits rolled. This film is way too long and way to interspersed with bits of nothingness. I've read the other reviews, mostly positive, and true Potter fans are gonna love this one. If you love Potter, ignore my review and see the film. Otherwise, there are plenty of other good films out there to see right now. Don't feel you have to endure sitting through this one because everyone else in the world is seeing it. And I mean everyone. If you go this weekend, show up an hour early at least to stand in line. I got lucky and saw it in the afternoon on Friday before school and work let out. As I left the theater, there was a line of at least 200 people waiting for the 7 o'clock show. If you go, I hope you like crowds, long films, too much dialogue and introspect for a film that should be fun and games but isn't.

Official site
Buy some Harry Potter books
Full cast and crew info at IMDb