I will never forget the weekend when I first saw Goblet of Fire in theaters. It was the first time I had ever seen one of the movies on the night after its opening, and not only that, I had good friends as well as my sister with me, who had seen Prisoner of Azkaban with me in theaters, albeit much later than it was first released. Nonetheless, that was a good time as well, particularly because there were fewer people. The theater was packed when we got there, so we were forced to strain our necks and sit in the front row. At least we didn’t have to look at the back of anyone’s heads, but it did take some getting used to seeing the big heads on the too-close-for-comfort screen.
Even when the opening scenes began, I was blown away, and I know right then and there that I would love this movie. It definitely had a more thriller feel than the previous movies, and certainly deserved the rating that it received, especially with the final scenes of the rebirth of Voldemort. Knowing my sister, I knew she wouldn’t like that part, calling it too “graphic” for her taste. She had a completely different reaction to the film that I had; I loved every minute of it. It was suspenseful, even though I’d read the book twice before, and overall it was good edge-of-your-seat entertainment. My sister, on the other hand, missed the classes, of which there was only one in this movie. This was the Defense of the Dark Arts class, which I’m sure was only there to help set up Mad-Eye Moody as a character, and further describe the unforgivable curses. I’m sure that WB also decided to put it in there so that people like my sister wouldn’t be too peeved to see the classes taken out completely, as they took out the Dursleys, the House-Elves, and the Quidditch World Cup game itself.
Some might argue that there was too much action and not enough classic “I’m studying at Hogwarts”-type magic. But then again, I thought we’ve had plenty of that with the previous movies, especially with Prisoner of Azkaban, which concerned itself mostly with aesthetics. I loved PoA, actually, although I know many people did not, especially with the Whomping Willow scene transitions. Goblet of Fire didn’t have that; scene after scene was pure action, which was certainly different than previous movies, and although I liked it better, I didn’t like it so much better that I now severely dislike the previous movies. I will still watch one-three for years to come.
This is not to say that Goblet of Fire was completely without aesthetics and amazing special effects. It certainly did have that. But the scenes which included them were not by any means plotless as Prisoner of Azkaban sometimes seemed to be. Scenes that come to mind are the arrival of the guest students to Hogwarts, the scene fly-bys of the three tasks, and the initial portkey scene. I’ve met some people who absolutely hate these sorts of graphic enhancements. They should only be used as simple additions to great acting and well-written scripts he says. I believe, thankfully, that this was the case for Goblet of Fire. I thought the trio had improved dramatically with PoA; the improvement was even more visible with GoF, especially, one might point out unfortunately, Dan’s crying. The most crying I’d done in a movie theater was during that last scene where Harry brings back Cedric, and not even through my crying with Harry, but my crying with his father. It was such a great scene; well done.
As we’re on the subject of acting, this review wouldn’t be completely without my thoughts on Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore. “Harry Potter!” he shouts once his name comes out of the goblet, and from then on, I saw what people would be talking about for weeks to come: Dumbledore as an angry, grumpy old man. But, perhaps, this is an exaggeration. There are some who would curse Gambon’s name and wish Harris would have never left us. I on the other hand, just thought it took a while to get used to, and thought simply in the end that rather than angry, he was supposed to be moreso fearful for Harry’s life when he asked him right out if he put his name in the goblet. Of course, he could have portrayed this better, but I didn’t think it was too out of the ballpark of Dumbledore as some would think. Perhaps if they had had the full speech in the end as written by Rowling, I would have better appreciated Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Might I add here too that I thought the end was too out of place for me. It was too happy, too reminiscent. I did like their looking back somewhat, because it reminds the rest of us that these are the same people that starred in the previous three films even though they look much different these days. However, there were too many past reflections than looking toward the future and what the trio has to face now with the return of Voldemort. Although Harry and Dumbledore did meet in the end as they do at the end of every book and film to wrap things together, it just wasn’t enough for me. We don’t see Rita Skeeter’s secret resolved as we should (though I should point out that Miranda Richardson did very well), just as we miss out on the identities of the Maurauders in the previous film.
No review would be finished without my thoughts on the score. I liked it… However, I’m also a die-hard Williams fan and always will be. I love his music in Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Harry Potter, as well as other films, some that I might not have liked as much had it not been for his music. I will say this: I liked what Doyle did to transform the movie series as we know it, but of the four soundtracks, I listen to the first three much more than I listen to the fourth. I also have the first three sheet music books for piano, but not the fourth. I had almost thought about not getting the fourth soundtrack, but it ended up being on sale. I am writing this because, although I liked Doyle’s changes and how much he brought the film to life, the style is too different from that of the greatest composer of our time, John Williams. I might also add here that I hated the songs featured during the Yule Ball. That is all.