Like so many others out there, we have been huge fans of the Harry Potter books since we stumbled onto them years ago (yes, we’ve already read the latest one). So, we’ve been interested in seeing what Hollywood would do to the books once they started hitting the big screen. While the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), was somewhat of a disappointment, the later films (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)) have gotten increasingly better. So, when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire hit theaters, we knew we were going to go check it out.
Since we also wanted to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) (and we were going to be away from our families this holiday season), we decided to go see Goblet Of Fire on Christmas weekend and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) on New Year’s weeked. So, on December 26th, we rushed to the theaters to check out Goblet of Fire.
But, would Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire be even better than Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), or has this film series already reached it’s greatest heights?
All of the actors the viewer has come to know from the first 3 films return to reprise their roles yet again in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. By this point, the film series most likely wouldn’t be able to survive an actor change in any of the major roles in the film. While Dumbledore was successfully able to be switched to actor Michael Gambon after the passing of Richard Harris in the third film, none of the other major roles would able to be changed at this point without major consequences for the series. After 4 films, who could imagine anyone but Radcliffe, Grint and Watson as Harry, Ron and Hermione? Or any other major character in the film as someone else?
Thankfully, the public has yet to grow tired of the actors in their roles, and the actors really seem to keep getting into their roles more with each successive film. Radcliffe, Grint and Watson continue to impress in their roles, bringing the book characters to life with incredible ease. Unfortunately for them, they may be unable to ever escape the Harry Potter legacy, but for now, while the films continue to be made, they are at the high point of their careers – and seemingly loving every single minute of it.
Any reader of the books by now realizes each book is set up pretty much the same way. Each book is another battle against the evil Voldemort. That could have easily gotten old by book 3, but J. K. Rowling has ingeniously been able to craft each book into it’s own unique story by both bringing in new characters and expanding on the characters the reader already knows. This setup helps make the series easily transfer itself into film, as the viewers, like the readers, will be able to see some new faces with each film, while still having the old familiar faces around to help them feel at home.
Thus, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire introduces us to Mad Eye Moody, the latest in a long troubled line of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. Brendan Gleeson does a great job of bringing this latest Hogwarts addition to vivid life, and his continued presence at Hogwarts will be welcomed by most viewers.
Along with the new teacher, Goblet of Fire lets the viewers in on the fact that Hogwarts is not the only school for wizardry, as 2 other wizarding schools, each with their own styles, show up to compete in the big TriWizard Tournament. These schools bring with them a whole array of new characters, from flashy Viktor Krum (played by Stanislav Ianevski) to the rather subdued Fleur Delacour (played by Clemence Poesy). These new additions are warmly welcomed, as they are able to add in all sorts of subplots and intrigue that would have not been otherwise available – and the actors do a great job of blending in well with the rest of the cast.
The plot itself lends itself toward the ever-increasing dark turn the films seem to be taking. Amidst rumors the final book will see the death of Harry Potter, the films seem to be hinting that dire times indeed are on their way. While Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) seemed to be mostly sunshine and fun, the further the film series progresses, the darker the films get.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) was really the first to showcase this dark side, and Goblet of Fire continues on the path toward darkness. The end of the film will leave younger viewers in some shock if they haven’t read the books, while older viewers may start to wonder how much of a kids’ series these films are becoming.
The special effects are quite impressive yet again in this 4th installment. Goblet of Fire throws in a dragon battle, mer-people, and a moving maze into the mix, and the special effects department easily turns in breathtaking scenes and photo-realistic effects so the viewer is never distracted from the action taking place on the screen. This area has been able to stay strong throughout each film and only seems to be improving as the series progresses. It’s one thing that has made the films so popular, and keeps the viewers in eager anticipation of the next film.
Originally, the Harry Potter films seemed to be a massive undertaking. With a proposed series of 7 films centered around the same characters, it’s almost unheard of in movie history. While James Bond and Star Trek have the Harry Potter films beat, they each have had to change the actors in the starring roles at least once (What’s James Bond up to now? 6?).
The true test of the Harry Potter phenomenon would be if they suddenly had to switch the main actors. Would fans still flock to see these films if the familiar faces of Radcliffe, Grint, Watson, Coltrane, Felton or Lewis weren’t playing Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Draco or Neville? Probably not. But, as the young actors grow up so quickly, it may have to come to that.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire continues to keep to the high standards set by it’s predecessor, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).
With familiar faces performing better than ever, and some welcome new additions to the cast, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a real contender for the best Harry Potter movie yet. It’s already going onto my list of must-own films when it finally hits DVD.