It's Harry's third year at Hogwarts; not only does he have a new "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher, but there is also trouble brewing. Convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped the Wizards' Prison and is coming after Harry.
Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts is about to start and he is enjoying the summer vacation with his friends. They get the tickets to The Quidditch World Cup Final but after the match is over, people dressed like Lord Voldemort's 'Death Eaters' set a fire to all the visitors' tents, coupled with the appearance of Voldemort's symbol, the 'Dark Mark' in the sky, which causes a frenzy across the magical community. That same year, Hogwarts is hosting 'The Triwizard Tournament', a magical tournament between three well-known schools of magic : Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The contestants have to be above the age of 17, and are chosen by a magical object called Goblet of Fire. On the night of selection, however, the Goblet spews out four names instead of the usual three, with Harry unwittingly being selected as the Fourth Champion. Since the magic cannot be reversed, Harry is forced to go with it and brave three exceedingly difficult tasks. Written by
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I wanted so badly to enjoy this. However, I cannot let my Potter fandom cloud the fact that this movie is NOWHERE near a "10."
Now, I will admit to having held high standards walking into this movie. But that standard was set by the quality of the previous films in the Potter series. The previous three installments have been mind-blowers, so I unwittingly assumed that this would top them all.
I was wrong.
While visually stunning and well-directed, it simply tried to do too much, and wound up doing very little.
I imagine a screenwriter's mad scramble to appease book-loving audiences, while not losing the casual viewer.
The result was, quite frankly, an unfocused hodge-podge of book fragments.
A short list of what didn't work for me and why:
1. The budding romance between Cho Chang and Harry was forced, at best, into awkward moments of little chemistry. This subplot needed much more development in order to be effective, because as it is, they speak to each other maybe three or four times within a three and a half hour movie. Nowhere near the screen time to warrant the attention it attempts. So essentially, this whole subplot felt like filler.
2. At no point had I felt that anyone was going to "lose themselves," in the final challenge. Krum, the only example that comes close to this mock threat, was under Voldemort's influence (an ambiguous leap at best, by the way). Despite Cedric's courtship of Cho Chang, I had no reason whatsoever to suspect that Harry would "lose himself," as Dumbledore forewarned.
3. I did not feel that there was really any threat, even from Voldemort. He seemed to be an afterthought, and the big confrontation at the end felt like a teaser to yet another sequel.
Another example of missed opportunity is in the supposed threat of the tournament. Simply saying that "wizards have died," in the tournament previously does not do justice to what even a single visual example can. And let's not forget that the tournament didn't even kill Cedric; Voldemort did.
4. I felt that the entire opening, up until the point where the tri-wizard tournament began, was arbitrary and only served to set a mood. I feel that the set design (a major strength, in my view) and basic story did the job well enough. Not that it was badly done, but that the opening half-hour could have been used for better development of other subplots. By the end of the movie, and apparently Harry's fourth year, the audience is left scratching their heads, as no tangible chronology is provided for ANY PART of this movie.
I could continue, but my point is clear: an eight-hundred page book adapted into one three and a half hour film either cuts prominent sections of the original text out of the finished product, or tries to make a mad scramble to stay relatively close to the original work.
The result here, unfortunately, is a film with a lot of potential, and little else. The script is simply too unfocused, and the result is the ambiguous and underdeveloped mess this film slowly became.
Maybe Mike Newell would have been wise to listen to the studio's wishes. It could well have saved this film from what it became.
All in all, it was a feast for the eyes, but still only a well-directed train wreck.
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