advertise with us Salt Shaker archives find a copy of the magazine
 
 
 
 
 
 
Film
 
Great Goblets of Fire!

By Jeremy Mathews
 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
 
(out of four)
 
Warner Bros. Pictures
 
Directed by Mike Newell
Screenplay by Steven Kloves
Based on the novel by
J.K. Rowling
 
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma
Watson, Rupert Grint, Maggie Smith,
Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman,
Brendan Gleeson, Timothy Spall, Eric
Sykes, Mark Williams, James Phelps,
Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Jason
Isaacs, Tom Felton, Stanislav Ianevski,
Robbie Coltrane, Miranda Richardson
and Ralph Feines
 
Rated PG-13
 
 
Where'd it go?
 
Karen Anne Webb discusses the omissions that will peeve fans of the novel.
  Who let the dogs dark wizard out? (Spoiler!) We get no explanation about how young Crouch escaped Azkaban, contacted Voldemort, ensorcelled and later murdered his own father, or captured and replaced Moody, all fascinating reading and pivotal to the plot.
  Priori Incanta-whatzis?
The book explains how Harry’s wand connects with Voldy’s during their climactic battle and how Voldy’s wand comes to disgorge the spirits that enable
Harry’s escape. The movie gives us Dumbledore uttering the spell name, which makes things about as clear as the mud on Hagrid’s boots.
  The paucity of Rita Skeeter’s role leads us to miss great lines like Madame Maxime’s, “I ‘ave big bones!” Nor do we
see Hermione determine how Skeeter comes by her devastating information, then take revenge (one can only take so
much hate mail and bubotuber puss, after all).
  No house elves appear, liberated or otherwise, so we never get to hear Dobby utter the immortal line, “Dobby cannot let Harry Potter lose his Wheezy!” Winky, we hardly knew ye!
  The denouement, so absorbing in the book, fizzles. No rallying of the troops by Dumbledore, no jumble of jinxes cast
by the good guys on Malfoy and friends as they try to ambush Harry and only a dumbed down eulogy for Cedric. Oh,
well. At least we get to see Malfoy get turned into a ferret.
   
 
karen [at] saltshakermagazine.com

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is the first film in which the title character earns his billing. While certainly the hero of the first three film adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s hit children’s novels, Harry —and the actor portraying him, Daniel Radcliffe—always had his supporting duo of friends helping him out. But the three-part competition that makes up the film’s showcase scenes requires that he go it alone to prove himself both a wizard and a movie star.

The result is compelling, but not without its flaws. While Radcliffe proves himself a growing talent in the continually darkening series (this film is the first to be rated PG-13), the film under-uses the charms of the actors playing Harry’s bestt friends at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Emma Watson as Hermione and Rupert Grint as Ron.

“Goblet of Fire” marks the first film since director Alfonso Cuarón breathed life into the series with “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’s” gorgeous visual direction, stronger demands of the young actors and willingness to break from the original text. Now, Mike Newell (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”), the first British director to approach the British material, has taken some cues from Cuarón and kept the story cinematic, although not with quite the same grace and attention to details as his predecessor. For example, the movement in the computer animation isn’t as strong as in the last film, and the Quidditch World Cup stadium in the film’s opening sequence looks like a videogame.

Seeing as there are always fishy things happening at Hogwart’s, something is clearly amiss when 14-year-old Harry’s name pops out as one of the entrants in the Triwizard Tournament, a three-school, usually three-person event that doesn’t allow competitors younger than 17. Harry didn’t put his name in, but the mystical, all-powering wizard rules say that you have to compete in the dangerous event if your name comes out, lest you offend the Goblet of Fire (I may be making up the last part). So headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and the adversarial Snape (Alan RIckman) decide to continue with the competition, despite the concerns of Harry’s house mistress (Maggie Smith).

If all the characters mentioned above are confusing you already, those are only some of the returning names. The film’s greatest flaw is the slew of characters who remain undeveloped throughout the story because there is too much going on to build details of their relationships. While it’s impossible to fit everything from the ever-lengthening books into the films, some judicial cutting and disciplined use of the two-and-a-half-hour runtime could have allowed for more distinctive personalities among the key characters.

There are at least eight new characters in this film, added to an already busy ensemble. The gossipy reporter Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), who tries to manipulate Harry’s participation in the competition into a juicy news story, doesn’t provide enough comic relief to justify the time she drains from characters who have more important relationships with the hero.

At one point, a reference is made to the special powers of Fleur (Cleménce Poésy), the competitor from a French all-girls school whose students have special powers of the children’s book equivalent of seduction. But the reference made no sense to me until my dad, who had read the book, explained it to me after the press screening. This information could have been delivered economically through solid production design and casting, but instead the character feels like an afterthought. Madame Olympe Maxine (Frances de la Tour), the large-in-stature head of Fleur’s school, strikes up a romance with the always lovable giant groundskeeper Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane).

The other competitors are Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski), a Bulgarian Quidditch champion who looks grumpy and is just as indistinct as Fleur, and Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), Hogwart’s legal entry who is hunky and noble.

The most intriguing addition to the cast comes through rumors of the return of the powerful and evil wizard Voldemort (captured eerily by Ralph Feinnes), who killed Harry’s parents but couldn’t kill the child.

But of those actually present throughout the film, the most interesting person is a man who spied on Voldemort, Mad-Eye Moody (Brendon Gleeson), this year’s head of the revolving-door-for-teachers Dark Arts class. Rather than a conventional eye patch, Moody has a second, bulging eye strapped in front of his socket. Whether his eye was always like that or it became that way during the wizard’s life-scarring stint as a spy, his past and an apparent alcoholism suggest that dark secrets may lurk beneath the pleasant persona who helps Harry make it through the competition.

And then there’s Harry’s first crush, Cho (Katie Leung), who doesn’t say a whole lot and whom Harry glimpses mostly from afar. That sums up a year in many adolescent crushes. Unfortunately, Harry and Ron both have trouble securing their desired dates to a big ball because apparently 17-years-and-older wizards like to go on dates with 14-year-old girls.

But a thing like the crush that would normally be a big issue in a teenager’s life flies by as Harry has to grow up fast and keep track of everything going on around him. But he will surely have more time to dabble in it while trying to fight off more evil in the next film. “Goblet of Fire” is both involving and lacking due to its fast pace, but it will likely become a key piece in the series as a whole and another landmark as the young actors continue to grow on screen.

jeremy [at] saltshakermagazine.com

 

 
The Salt Shaker is an Arts & Entertainment publication in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is published every other Friday. For information on advertising, call 801-637-0401 or email patrick [at] saltshakermagazine.com. To have your event considered for publication, write to jeremy [at] saltshakermagazine.com. Copyrighted material remains the property of the original owner. Web Site Copyright 2005.

Webmistress: janean [at] saltshakermagazine.com