Reviewed by

Bud Carlson

Daniel Radcliffe is back as Harry Potter for Year 4 at Hogwart’s Academy, but this year brings more danger than Harry has ever faced before. Throughout the summer, the young wizard has been suffering from a recurring nightmare that brings him great pain, and makes him question the identity of all the people who appear in it. When he returns to Hogwart’s, Harry becomes the focus of even more scrutiny, when he mysteriously and controversially is chosen to be part of the prestigious and dangerous Tri-Wizard Tournament. The tournament is a year-long competition between Hogwart’s and two other schools, and provides the framework for the story. Each of the competitive tasks challenges all of the participants’ abilities and promises great glory for the winner, but something more ominous is awaiting Harry Potter.


Why was Harry chosen as his school’s representative, even though he does not qualify? What is the meaning of his dreams? Who is the mystery man that he does not recognize?


The usual villains of Malfoy (Tom Felton) and Snape (Alan Rickman) fade into the background in this episode, barely giving Harry a moment of trouble. Our attention is turned, as usual, to the guest stars, in particular Brendan Gleeson as crazy-but-seemingly-friendly Mad Eye Moody, the new Dark Arts instructor at Hogwarts. Gleeson gives the character, who is a good guy with fanatical tendencies, an intense over-the-top unpredictability in his behavior, as to be both funny and scary.  

The sharply thrilling action scenes, mostly centered around the events of the tournament, are first-rate, as fantastically executed as anything we’ve seen in the series. But the film wisely avoids letting the darkness of the tournament and the impending doom suggested by Lord Voldemort’s imminent return take over the film

completely. In the middle, there’s the yule ball, which comprises several scenes dealing with little more than typical teen angst. These are light and funny, a perfect palate-cleanser before we head back into the danger of the tournament.


It is a fray, for certain. This is the darkest, most unsettling episode yet, and it’s only getting more frightening from here. As Harry grows, the stories around him mature. “Goblet of Fire” makes the point, for the first time, that all the peril Harry regularly finds himself in can actually kill someone. In fact, at the end of the film, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) says “Dark and difficult times lie ahead”, which is interesting given the fact that we just watched 2-and-a-half hours of perilous adventure … makes you wonder what could lie ahead that could be any worse.


It’s a scary exciting good time, never gruesome or gratuitous, always with one mad eye focused on entertaining the audience. The movie is full of ceaseless magic and fantastical images, a feast for the eyes as well as the mind, and reminds us at every turn that we are watching a big time movie. There are sweeping scenes of ships sailing across the water, serene winterscapes of the Hogwart’s Academy, frightening and fearsome dragons, the grand ballroom decked out for the high class society dance, and more. Director Mike Newell makes the novel come to life in a way that challenges even the most powerful imagination.  The filmmakers figured out two things with this movie: that it’s supposed to be fun, and that adding layers of depth to it enhances our enjoyment of it


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