Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Director: Mike Newell
Running Time: 157 mins
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire is a British film and the fourth in the Harry Potter series. Despite being too young, Harry is chosen by the Goblet Of Fire to compete in the prestigious Triwizard Tournament, however it soon emerges that his participation is part of a far more sinister plan.
After three entertaining movies, I’m afraid to say that The Goblet Of Fire is the point where this series has hit a wall. I’m not saying it can’t get around that wall, but in the case of this fourth film, fantasy drama and adventure is largely reduced to a dull portrayal of teen angst and romance, mixed together with directing and writing that really fails to deliver the stakes and tension that its content promises.
On the whole, I didn’t like this film, and although there are positives to draw, including the consistency of the lead performances, and improved special effects over the previous three movies, there are far more problems to discuss.
Mostly, it’s Mike Newell’s directing that just didn’t work for me. Picking up where Alfonso Cuarón left off, Newell takes the bleak and dark image of this series even further. However, unlike Cuarón, who managed to complement that with tense storytelling, Newell’s design for The Goblet Of Fire is one of far too much style over substance.
Moving away from the charm of the family-friendly Harry Potter of the first two films can be done, as we saw in The Prisoner Of Azkaban, but when it’s done in such a seemingly vacuous way, and not providing the same level of effective pacing, focus and general storytelling, it becomes a real point of frustration, unfortunately falling into the same category as other young adult films like Twilight.
Now, there aren’t just parallels in directing style between The Goblet Of Fire and Twilight, because the direction that this fourth film’s story takes is also painfully similar. Now, I recognise that the overall story arc is moving with the gradual maturing of the central characters (which is actually a very brave and interesting approach to such a long series), however The Goblet Of Fire really misses the mark as to how to achieve that.
Maturity doesn’t come through moody, adolescent dialogue, and there’s nothing less mature than an incredibly frustrating and unnecessary half-hour period where the story’s entire focus is on teen romance. Instead, what The Goblet Of Fire should have done is subtly introduce tones of personal drama and the blossoming of romantic relationships that, instead of just making the characters feel all awkward and sweaty, would produce greater tension and drama between them.
To a degree, this film does do the latter, and those moments between two characters are pretty good, but for the most part, the excessive focus on such a trivial and dull story line is incredibly frustrating to watch, and not helpful to a poorly-paced two and a half hour film that fails to deliver on its central premise anyway.
I say that because this film features a seismic moment at the heart of the entire series. No spoilers, but that moment really should have felt epic and incredibly intense, as it completely changes the nature of the threat to Harry that has building over the course of the series so far. Instead, as it comes directly after that painful teen angst section, and is again not handled so well by Mike Newell, it feels bland and unimpressive, which is painfully disappointing to see given how important it’s likely to be as the rest of the series unfolds.
Overall, The Goblet Of Fire was a very disappointing fourth instalment for me. Alfonso Cuarón had convinced me that a darker and more mature approach to this series was possible, but this film has again dashed my hopes of that. Whilst its performances and special effects are good, the majority of this film is a frustrating watch, featuring a generic plot that’s filled with bland and unnecessary episodes that extend its runtime far too long. It’s not an awful film, but in comparison to the first three, this isn’t any sort of a triumph, and that’s why The Goblet Of Fire gets a 6.7 from me.