Friday, November 18, 2005

Review: 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'

If the third film in the Harry Potter series, last year's "Prisoner of Azkaban," seemed frightening with its soul-sucking Dementors and its German expressionist aesthetic, then the fourth installment, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," will have kids quaking in their seats and perhaps wishing they had an invisibility cloak to hide beneath.

This "Potter" earns its PG-13 rating a first for the previously PG series about the boy wizard as Harry grows into adolescence and learns more about his powers and his past. Of course, young fans have already devoured the J.K. Rowling books that provide the basis for the films, so they know what's coming. (The author is up to No. 6 out of seven planned.) But reading it on the page and seeing it on the screen can be two entirely different experiences, and several scenes will be disturbing to viewers regardless of age.

"Goblet of Fire" features the return of the dreaded Lord Voldemort He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named the dark warlock who killed Harry's parents and tried to kill him, too, when he was just an infant. (Having survived the attack is what gives Harry a certain mystique among his professors and classmates at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; it also gave him his trademark lightning-bolt scar on his forehead.)

As played by an unrecognizable Ralph Fiennes, Voldemort appears hairless and noseless, hissing and threatening in the moonlight a smooth, almost effeminate incarnation of the Devil, surrounded by cloaked minions.

Even scarier, though, is the maze Harry must navigate as a competitor in the dangerous Triwizard Tournament. The giant hedges that serve as the maze walls aren't just tall and the pathways aren't just narrow they're also predatory, collapsing violently on their inhabitants, sensing and feeding on their fears, trying to swallow them whole. (Bet Stanley Kubrick wishes he'd thought of that when he made "The Shining")

While these are the most extreme examples of the movie's intensity, they're also the ones that are the most emotionally powerful. Director Mike Newell has crafted a film full of images that are vast and wondrous, but strangely detached and obviously artificial, similar to the look of the "Lord of the Rings" movies. You can appreciate the enormity of the visuals, but they seem so distant, it's difficult to feel engaged by them.

But with Newell at the helm the first English director following American Chris Columbus, who did the first two parts, and Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, who did the third and best thus far "Goblet of Fire" seems more in touch with the innate Britishness of Rowling's books, both in its sense of humor and in its boarding-school setting.

Read the Full Review here...

Watch "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" Trailers and Clips

1 comment:

Rose said...

Sorry. Potter movies make me fall asleep. I know I should be intrigued with all the animations but maybe I am too tired when I see the movies.

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