Saturday, November 19, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (****)

It's rare in a film franchise where the movies keep getting better and better with each installment. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is not only the best Harry Potter film yet, but it's also one of the most imaginative, exciting, and awe-inspiring movies of the year. I was a bit unsure of whether director Mike Newell could pull it off, but after seeing Goblet, he seems like the perfect choice. More than any of the other films, this Harry Potter veers wildly from one genre to the next. It's a thriller, an action-adventure, a coming-of-age drama, and a comedy all at once. It takes someone like Newell who's done good work in a variety of different genres to navigate the piece and establish a coherent tone, and that he does. I think it's a huge accomplishment to have all three actors grow up on film in the way that they have. Both Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint give their best performances to date here. Radcliffe, for all intent and purposes, owns the character of Potter now. Emma Watson is the only actor to digress a little in this one, but it could be the way her character is written. She does nail her one dramatic scene at the Yule Ball though. This film is a lot darker than the previous three. We're finally getting to some real substance with these Potter films, and the appearance of Lord Voldemort near the end is proof of that. The filmmakers nail the end scene with Voldemort and countless others. Brendon Gleeson meshes perfectly with the already fabulous cast, and makes Mad-Eye Moody a wonderfully entertaining character. Goblet of Fire is filmmaking on a grand scale. It aims big, and it delivers big.


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