08 October 2012

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint)

Having decided to collect the Harry Potter DVDs and watch them, over a period of several months, we finally sat down to the fourth in the series on Sunday evening.

'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' is my least favourite of the books in the series. I haven't read it since 2005, but could remember most of the important plot points. It starts with some clear evidence of 'he-who-shall-not-be-named' seeking dark methods of returning to power. This is followed by the world Quidditch match, which doesn't much interest me. Most of the book, once the students have returned to Hogwarts, deals with the Tri-Wizard tournament - dangerous tasks between representatives of three different schools.

The ending of this book is particularly unpleasant and much darker than the previous novels; I didn't like it either of the times I had read it, and was not at all keen on seeing it on screen.

Still, the film is very well done, in my view. It keeps close to the plot of the book (or as much as I can remember, anyway) while - inevitably - cutting out some sequences, and cutting down on others. It's two and a half hours long, and quite intense. I felt myself quite tense at times. Some of the action scenes were so rapid that I had to close my eyes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I deliberately didn't watch most of the climax at the end, knowing what was coming. Just listening was more than sufficient - and it was well done.

The three main actors - Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione, and Rupert Grint as Ron - were clearly growing with their roles, and did very well portraying 14-year-old teenagers, sometimes moody and suspicious, sometimes emotional, beginning to show an interest in the opposite sex. This facet isn't overdone at all; the film's 12 rating (US: PG-13) is no doubt due to the somewhat dark theme - even though actual violence is not extreme. A sensitive child could find it very frightening.

I don't watch enough movies to have got fully used to the way that actors pop up all over the place, sometimes in similar roles, but - more disturbingly - sometimes very different. Maggie Smith is excellent, as ever, as Professor McGonagall; we've been watching 'Downton Abbey' and were a little bemused by her being a dowager countess in that, but the characters are not dissimilar.

Robert Hardy as the Minister for Magic was a bit strange - we knew him better as Siegfried Farnon in 'All Creatures Great and Small' - but I was at least expecting that. However, we both found it quite disturbing that David Tennant - the wonderful Doctor Who - appeared as the evil Barty Crouch...

I think I would recommend this film overall, to anyone who likes the books or has seen the earlier films. It would rather be confusing for anyone who knew nothing about Harry Potter, however.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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