Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Harry Potter Movies

Released: 2005
Director: Mike Newell 

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

A solid, if not outstanding, adaptation of the book


Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire sees another new director take control of the Harry Potter franchise, this time the man at the top is acclaimed British film-maker Mike Newell whose biggest hit to date was the brilliant Four Weddings and a Funeral.  The policy of changing directors throughout the series is an interesting one – it clearly stops the films from becoming staid and predictable but it also makes for a lack of consistency.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was a triumph, Goblet of Fire isn’t quite as good.

It doesn’t help that the source material is so long, JK Rowling stuffs her work full of so much rich detail that to include everything would mean the film lasting a bum-numbing 10 hours long.  I’m not sure if people who haven’t read the books notice the lack of detail but I certainly did and feel just a little disappointed by it.  Another consequence of the adaptation is that information which is slowly fed to us throughout the novel all comes out in quick chunks.  In the book there are several teaser mentions of Mad-Eye Moody before he appears at Hogwarts as new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, but here in the film he turns up and in a couple of lines of clunky dialogue we have the back story.  Necessary I suppose, just a little unsatisfactory.  The time limitation also means that we rush through the narrative at a pace even quicker than in the book.  There’s no respite and no real sense of time passing.

The acting continues to improve although I do wonder if a different director could have coaxed more subtle performances from the leads.  Rupert Grint doesn’t quite manage to convince in scenes of high emotion although his comic timing remains good.  Alan Rickman is criminally underused as Professor Snape – every time he appears onscreen he lifts the quality up several levels.  I particularly enjoyed the malevolence of his sleeve rolling just before he clouts the heads of a talkative Harry and Ron.

The special effects are amazing.  Always sharp, always impressive but never overwhelming they really do complement the story perfectly.  The scene where Harry faces is a dragon is the best of the effects sequences and is ambitious in its scale, more so even than the corresponding chapter of the novel.  When Harry is trapped in the maze near the end of the film there is a real sense of claustrophobia.  The detail, particularly smaller effects such as the scorpion-like liquorice snaps, is superb and the effects add to the full sensory experience of the film.  My only complaint about the effects is that no-one on the the team has ever been diving in British waters, if they had they would have known not to give the Black Lake quite so much visibility, one metre would have been plenty.  It wouldn’t have looked any good but it would have been realistic.

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire is a great film, but in comparison to Prisoner of Azkaban it seems slightly pedestrian and workmanlike.  Arguably this is an inevitable consequence of having to cram the contents of such rich source material into a two and a half hour film, but I do find it disappointing that my favourite Harry Potter novel hasn’t been adapted into my favourite Harry Potter film.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix >>
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