HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE —-–“Bloody kids!” The 4th magical spell cast by the kids and teachers at Hogwarts High had some major make-believe monsters to wand at in 2005—King Kong, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, War Of The Worlds, The Chronicles of Narnia, Batman Begins and Star Wars III. When the Dolby had settled, the Rowling Bunch broom-swept to #1 for the year, conjuring a wizardly $897,000,000. Accio!
Fully involving from start to finish, installment Four tasked screenwriter Steve Kloves with somehow streamlining the 734-page Rowling book into a little over 2.5 hours of screen-time. With the swarm of familiar characters (growing all the while in depth) and a commanding clutch of new ones, it packs in the spectacle of a Quidditch World Cup, tentative teenage romance, a festive Yule Ball/prom and a dazzling Tri-Wizard Tournament. By turns delightful & ominous, poignant & rousing, festive & chilling.
“The house of Godric Gryffindor has commanded the respect of the wizarding world for nearly ten centuries. I will not have you, in one night, besmirching that name by behaving like a babbling, bumbling band of baboons!”
$150,000,000 was laid on. The wondrous art direction and 1,400 exciting special effects include dragons (Hungarian Horntail, Swedish Short Snout, Common Welsh Green, Chinese Fireball), a deadly hedge maze and furious Grindylows. Add mermaids, flying horses and ‘Death Eaters’. Bring on confident sashaying damsels from ‘Beauxbaton’s Academy of Magic’ and gymnastic showoff dudes from the ‘Durmstrang Institute’. Mix impersonation, jealousy, suspicion and threat with tenderness, compassion, forgiveness and resolve. Alohomora!
“Why do they have to travel in packs? And how are you supposed to get one on their own to ask them?”
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson continue to grow and shine. Did the audience ooh-aah when Harry kissed ‘Cho’ (Katie Leung)? One hopes. Miss Leung beat out 3,000 girls who showed up to audition. ‘Weasley Twins Arthur & Fred (James & Oliver Phelps) again bring numerous laughs, and making his debut, 19-year old Robert Pattison duly impresses, three years before he’d secure a heartthrob zone in the Twilight. Miranda Richardson enjoys herself mightily as infuriating gossip nag ‘Rita Skeeter’, and the inestimable Brendan Gleeson strides into play as ‘Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody’. Ralph Fiennes joins them, bringing all the malevolence called for to embody someone christened ‘Lord Voldemort’.
Beautifully directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings And A Funeral, Donnie Brasco), who taps the emotional range needed for this alternately funny, touching and scary charmer. Taking over duties from John Williams, Patrick Doyle wraps it in an excellent score. The myopic Academy Awards saw fit to only give it one measly nomination—for Art Direction—omission snubs they were guilty of for the entirety of this astounding series: a mere 12 nominations over the decade-long run, without a single win. “What’s got your wand in a knot?” Impedimenta! Expecto pretronum!
Helping the potion bubble: Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Matthew Lewis (‘Neville’ dances) Timothy Spall, Gary Oldman, Francis de la Tour, Clémence Poésy, Stanislav Ianevski, David Tennant, Predrag Bjelac, Robert Hardy, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Roger Lloyd Pack, David Bradley, Warwick Davis, Eric Sykes, Shirley Henderson (‘Moaning Myrtle’ there to giggle like a crazy dead person). 157 minutes.
“Don’t lie to me! Gillyweed may be innocuous, but Boomslang skin? Lacewing flies? You and your little friends are brewing Polyjuice Potion, and believe me; I’m going to find out why!”