Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

It’s Harry, Ron & Hermione’s 4th year at Hogwarts and they start the year to a flurry of excitement when magical schools Drumstrag & Beaubatons send students to stay at Hogwarts and participate in the Tri-Wizard Tournament; one champion will be chosen from each school and put through a series of challenges until one is declared victor. As these challenges are extraordinarily dangerous no one under 17 can submit their name for consideration, which is why it’s remarkable when not only do 4 names come out as Tri-Wizard champions, but Harry is the 4th candidate, well under the 17 year old age limit. While this is going on Harry gets close to the new defense against the dark arts teacher, a former auror Mad Eye Moody who has been responsible for tracking down and putting away a large number of Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Harry also becomes more of a public figure as Rita Skeeter, a reporter for the Daily Prophet focuses her stories about the Tri-Wizard Tournament center on Harry. The Tri-Wizard Tournament takes Harry and his relationships to a breaking point until ultimately, Harry must face his darkest fear and the wizarding world will never be the same.

Until The Half-Blood Prince Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was my favorite Harry Potter film, and I think it is still tied for number one; I actually have the teaser poster for the film hanging on my bedroom wall because I think it captures Rowling’s world best. In my opinion Mike Newell was the first director that really understood J.K. Rowling’s world and that need for a balance between fantasy, darkness and reality. Chris Columbus understood the fantasy, Alfonso Cuaron understood the darkness, and Mike Newell began to intergect the much needed dose of reality into the series. Along with making a brilliant film, he put the series in the perfect place for David Yates to make the series into the perfection it is now.

My favorite character in Goblet of Fire has got to be Rita Skeeter. This is one of the most eccentric characters in the series and she tries to royally interfere with everything that goes on between Harry and his friends. I really hope they bring Miranda Richardson back into the series. Me, myself & I want her back.

However, this was the first film where the Fred & George Weasley I know and love from the books came to the big screen. While they’d always been the funny, irksome older brothers to Ron they finally became the comedic, brilliant, troublemaking wizards they were in the book. They are beyond fantastic.

There is one scene in the book that makes me emotional just thinking about it, and as a fair warning this is a spoiler. This scene is when Dumbledore has assembled all the students in the great hall after Cedric Diggory has been murdered and Voldemort has risen, Dumbldore delivers a speech about how everything has changed and warns that they must all remember what Voldemort has done, the truth of the situation as the Ministry of Magic will cover it up for their “protection”; he repeats a phrase several times – “Remember Cedric Diggory”. I cried when reading it in the book. Newell doesn’t get quite that emotional response out of me in his version of that scene but he does evoke a pretty powerful emotional response from me; the scene sets up a dynamic that will come to play largely in Order of the Phoenix and the rest of the wizard world.

Goblet of Fire had a lot of differences between the finished product and the book, but like so many of the changes that the series has embraced I have to say that I don’t mind them. While I still wish the racial war from the books was being played up a lot more, the only genuine things I miss thus far have to do with things missing in the first two films. I don’t mind that Nevel not Dobby helps Harry breathe under water, or that it’s a Death Eater not a house elf that gets caught making the dark mark at the Quiddich World Cup, or the dozens of other differences in the series. As long as the series hits the important points, and completes the fantastic character arch’s that Rowling wrote into the series I will be a happy viewer.

Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Steve Kloves
Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe
Hermione Granger: Emma Watson
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint
Fred Weasley: James Phelps
George Weasley: Oliver Phelps
Ginny Weasley: Bonnie Wright
Cedric Diggory: Robert Pattinson
Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane
Dumbledore: Michael Gambon
Professor Snape: Alan Rickman
Mad Eye Moody: Brendan Gleeson
Professor McGonagall: Maggie Smith
Fleur Delacour: Clemence Posey
Viktor Krum: Stanislav Lanevski

Dumbledore: No spell can reawaken the dead, Harry. I trust you know that. Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.

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