Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
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When Harry Potter's name emerges from the Goblet of Fire, he becomes a competitor in a grueling battle for glory among three wizarding schools - the Triwizard Tournament. But since Harry never submitted his name for the Tournament, who did? Now Harry must confront a deadly dragon, fierce water demons and an enchanted maze only to find himself in the cruel grasp of He Who Must Not Be Named. In this fourth film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, everything changes as Harry, Ron and Hermione leave childhood forever and take on challenges greater than anything they could have imagined.
DVD ROM Features
The fourth entry in the Harry Potter saga could be retitled Fast Times at Hogwarts, where finding a date to the winter ball is nearly as terrifying as worrying about Lord Voldemort's return. Thus, the young wizards' entry into puberty (and discovery of the opposite sex) opens up a rich mining field to balance out the dark content in the fourth movie (and the stories are only going to get darker). Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) handily takes the directing reins and eases his young cast through awkward growth spurts into true young actors. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe, more sure of himself) has his first girl crush on fellow student Cho Chang (Katie Leung), and has his first big fight with best bud Ron (Rupert Grint). Meanwhile, Ron's underlying romantic tension with Hermione (Emma Watson) comes to a head over the winter ball, and when she makes one of those girl-into-woman Cinderella entrances, the boys' reactions indicate they've all crossed a threshold.
But don't worry, there's plenty of wizardry and action in Goblet of Fire. When the deadly Triwizard Tournament is hosted by Hogwarts, Harry finds his name mysteriously submitted (and chosen) to compete against wizards from two neighboring academies, as well as another Hogwarts student. The competition scenes are magnificently shot, with much-improved CGI effects (particularly the underwater challenge). And the climactic confrontation with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, in a brilliant bit of casting) is the most thrilling yet. Goblet, the first installment to get a PG-13 rating, contains some violence as well as disturbing images for kids and some barely shrouded references at sexual awakening (Harry's bath scene in particular). The 2 1/2-hour film, lean considering it came from a 734-page book, trims out subplots about house-elves (they're not missed) and gives little screen time to the standard crew of the other Potter films, but adds in more of Britain's finest actors to the cast, such as Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody and Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter. Michael Gambon, in his second round as Professor Dumbledore, still hasn't brought audiences around to his interpretation of the role he took over after Richard Harris died, but it's a small smudge in an otherwise spotless adaptation. --Ellen A. Kim
On the DVD
The highlight of the two-disc set is a half-hour conversation with actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. They discuss their reactions to the film and other topics with British writer Richard Curtis . Then they answer questions from contest-winning fans, such as what are their favorite kids' books (Watson bypasses the obvious answer in favor of Roald Dahl and Philip Pullman) and what scenes are they looking forward to in upcoming films. More routine extras include the "Reflections on the Fourth Film" featurette (14 min.), though it has comments from some of the other young cast members, and "Preparing for the Yule Ball" (9 min.). The 10 minutes of additional scenes are mostly skulking and skullduggery, plus a long musical number from the ball. The remaining material is grouped along the lines of the Triwizard Tournament, with behind-the-scenes looks at each of the competitions (about 22 min. total), two longer featurettes on He Who Must Not Be Named (11 min.) and the workday of the other contestants (Robert Pattinson, Stanislav Ianevski, and Clémence Poésy, 13 min.), and four games, playable with the directional arrows on the remote control, that can be frustrating to figure out. --David Horiuchi
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Ultimate Blu-ray Edition
Runtime: 2 HRS, 37 MIN
Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Pattinson, David Tennant, Timothy Spall, Jason Isaacs, and Ralph Fiennes
Film Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Video Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Audio Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
With each progressive entry into the Harry Potter franchise the plots become darker and bleaker as Harry's world becomes more dangerous. Prisoner of Azkaban had a much darker look and feel than its predecessor's and that trend continues in spades in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Darker, moodier, and filled with more teen angst than previous installments, Goblet of Fire is just as much a fantasy film as it is a coming of age story. Some of the glammer and glitz of Harry's magical world begins to chip away as Harry moves away from childhood and is thrown into adulthood.
This year's adventure begins with Harry and company attending the Quiddich World Cup. While at the World Cup he encounters Lord Voldemort's followers for the first time. When back at school he finds out that Hogwart's is hosting the Tri-Wizard Tournament, a competition where contestants from three magical schools compete against each other in three magical trials. Harry is too young to enter but somehow his name is selected and is thrown into a tournament where he is put up against three competitors that are several years ahead of him in magical skill. Harry must also deal with the changing dynamics of friendship, another new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (are you seeing a pattern yet?), asking out a girl for the first time, and find out how his name was entered into the Tournament and why.
While not as enjoyable as Prisoner of Azkaban there's a lot to like about this film. While not really improving on Azkaban, this film compliments it well. There's still a good amount of humor in Goblet of Fire but it's not overpowering and seems more natural to the characters. A lot of the humor succeeds because of the continuing growth of the young leads. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson get better with each passing film and know their characters inside and out. Their familiarity with their roles and how their characters interact with one another add a layer of complexity to their performances that first began to emerge in Prisoner of Azkaban. Goblet of Fire is more action oriented then previous Potter films with at least five scenes featuring a lot of CGI action. The CGI all looks great regardless of whether its computer creatures, backgrounds, or other assorted effects they all blend in seamlessly with the rest of the picture. It's pretty remarkable what a difference four years make in the computer effects world because there were numerous scenes in Sorcerer's Stone that looked horrendous in 2001 and downright embarrassing now whereas Goblet of Fire still looks extremely polished almost six years after its release. Mike Newell steps into the director's chair for Goblet of Fire. At first glance he would seem to be an odd choice to direct a Harry Potter film considering up to that point his most commercially successful film was Four Weddings and a Funeral. What you might not realize is he directed several episodes of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, the Johnny Depp /Al Pacino mob film Donny Brasco, and the black comedy Pushing Tin with John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton. None of those films by themselves make me think he's the right choice to helm a Potter film but collectively he's hitting on enough different genres to be an interesting choice. Think about it, do Harry Potter films fit into one film genre easily? Not really, each film is of course different but there is drama, fantasy, action, (family friendly) horror, comedy, and romance in almost every film. Therefore you need a director that can interweave these different themes into a balanced but engaging film.
The biggest gripe I have about the movie is a rather petty one. What's with all the long hair on the boys? Each movie is suppose to take place less than two months after the last one ended but they all look like their hairs been growing out six months or longer. It just doesn't fit in well with the rest of the series. Harry & Ron's hair is relatively short in Azkaban but is well past Harry's ears and is down near Ron's shoulders. Obviously, the cast or someone at WB said it looked laughable because all the boys get a hair cut by the start next film (which starts only a few weeks after this film ends remember).
Goblet of Fire had a lot to live up to after the brilliant casting job done for Prisoner of Azkaban. Brendan Gleeson joins as the cast as the heavily scarred and paranoid new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Mad Eye Moody. Gleeson seems to have a great time playing the character who's slightly mad (pun somewhat intended) and wears A LOT of facial make-up and prosthetics. He had large shoes to fill but does an admirable job filling the void left by the absence of David Thewlis and Gary Oldman.
In a small but no less important role is David Tennant. He was a bit of an unknown at the time to American audiences since he had just taken over as the new Doctor in Doctor Who but now has a bit more of a following. David Tennant is only in about ten minutes of the film but you'll think he was in a lot more until you sit down and really think about it. One minor cast addition that wasn't considered terribly important at the time but now has a huge following is that of Robert Pattinson, best known now as the sparkling vampire from Twilight. He plays the other Hogwart's champion and romantic rival for Harry. He's not terrible in this and he's much less emo than he is in the sparkling vampire movies. At the time of the film's release I never thought he'd turn into the teen heart throb he is today. That just goes to show how little in common I have with tween girls and forty year old desperate woman.
If there's one area that Goblet of Fire really has an advantage over every book or movie that came before it's the addition of a real, sustained villain in the form of Ralph Fiennes' Lord Vodemort. We've seen him before in the series, both in Sorcerer's Stone and in Chamber of Secrets but here we get the real deal. Fiennes' has played his fair share of terrifying monsters whether it be the evil S.S. officer Oman Goeth in Schindler's List or Francis "The Tooth Fairy" Dolarhyde in Red Dragon and he continues to prove that he can play one of the best psychotics in film today. The addition of Fiennes as Voldemort really ratchets up the tension and finally gives Harry Potter a serious, physical villain to go up against.
There's a lot to enjoy about this installment; director Mike Newell successfully begins to transform the "kids" into adults and the added adult themes are dealt with without alienating the younger audience. The new additions to the cast continue to enrich Harry's world and elevates the younger stars performances just by being in their presence. Goblet of Fire is a worthy follow up effort to Prisoner of Azkaban and while it doesn't surpass it keeps the series moving in a great direction.
The Goblet of Fire Ultimate Edition Blu-ray has similar packaging attributes as the Prisoner of Azkaban set. What does that mean? It's taller than than the first two sets and has a lenticualar card inserted on the front cover. For more details on the packaging differences please see my review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Director Mike Newell was given the opportunity to create an Extended Cut of the film but like Alfonso Cuarón he said that his preferred version of the film was the theatrical cut of the film. Also included in the set is a second Blu-ray disc of extras, a third disc is filled with standard definition extras, a piece of paper with a digital copy code, the collectible book, and two new character cards (Ron Weasley, Mad Eye Moody).
The Ultimate Edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire features the same transfer of the previous HD-DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2007. This is a top of the line transfer that is sure to impress fans and newcomers alike. Black levels are inky, colors are vivid, and the level of detail is astonishing. You won't find any dirt or other blemishes, simply put the original source was in pristine condition. The transfer also easily handles fog and smoke, I didn't notice any instances of macroblocking which is always a good sign since fog and smoke can easily trip up a lesser transfer. This is an outstanding transfer slightly outclassing Prisoner of Azkaban and is the best of the original first four films.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is sourced from the same elements as the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 track used on the 2007 Blu-ray. Goblet of Fire is more of an action film than any of the other entries. The surround channels come alive early and often and if you've been waiting to hear some great action scenes you're in for a treat now. There are several scenes that will give your subwoofer a workout especially the scene where Harry faces off against a dragon and the climatic ending. Dialogue is intelligible even when the action picks up and is never drowned out by Patrick Doyle's wonderful score. Just like with the video this is best audio presentation of the first four films.
The only special feature that disc one features is the PiP "In-Movie Experience" that was only available on the 2007 HD-DVD. It's your standard PiP track that gives you lots of behind the scenes material and is hosted by James & Oliver Phelps who play the Weasley twins. It's an informative track but there are some rather long gaps that may frustrate some viewers that might have just watched the movie in its entirety.
Disc two of course features the forth segment of the eight part documentary, Creating the World of Harry Potter Part Four: Sound & Music. While I'm sure some will find this documentary very interesting I found it to be a bit dry for my taste. It's certainly informative but listening to the composers and sound designers talk at length about their creative process just isn't interesting enough to keep my interest for almost an entire hour. There is a collection of eight deleted scenes, presented in HD running about ten total minutes. None of the scenes offer anything mind shattering but some of them might be interesting to die hard Potter fans. Also include on disc two are five vintage TV specials. The final offerings are on disc two are two theatrical trailer presented in HD. Disc three is filled with SD carryover material from the earlier DVD edition of the film. As with the other Ultimate Editions I didn't bother even putting this SD filth in my player.
Goblet of Fire is a very good film that is both emotionally satisfying and is technically sound. Both the video and audio presented on the disc are top notch and will definitely please most Blu-ray enthusiasts. The PiP track is decent but the Creating the World of Harry Potter is the weakest entry of the sets so far. If you're just interested in picking up the movie on Blu-ray the single disc release from 2007 is a great option and can be picked up for about $10 on Amazon.