Harry Potter finds himself competing in a hazardous tournament between rival schools of magic, but he is distracted by recurring nightmares.Harry Potter finds himself competing in a hazardous tournament between rival schools of magic, but he is distracted by recurring nightmares.Harry Potter finds himself competing in a hazardous tournament between rival schools of magic, but he is distracted by recurring nightmares.
For one, the acting remains a substantial problem that is bound to plague the fans for the remainder of the franchise, including the next few films that are already signed up. The big budget and the excellent special effects can't alleviate the responsibility that the three young actors have to presenting decent performances. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), despite improving immensely since the previous installment, remains stiff and uncharismatic on screen whereas Emma Watson's melodramatic take on the character of Hermione had the entire audience frustrated. She seems to be throwing herself into her role with too much gusto and enthusiasm, resulting in a pretentious and unsatisfying performance that remains a plague on the rest of the film's merits. Dumbledore is pathetic in his role, completely misunderstanding the direction of his character and ultimately illustrating Newell's lack of grasp of what Harry Potter is really all about. The only actor that seems to stand out in a positive light is indeed Rupert Grint (Ron) who takes his performance easily. From his flawless comic timing to his understanding of the more serious scenes as well, here is an actor we will no doubt see after the Harry Potter film franchise has concluded. He stands out as the more talented of the three teenagers.
Newell's direction is furthermore extremely flawed, surprising after the brilliant and entertaining "Donnie Brasco". Not only does he fail to understand the needs and wants of the actors in their respective performances, but he seems to also clutch no grasp of what made this book so amazing. Gone now is the magic of Chris Columbus in the first and second installments of the franchise, and supposedly Newell was to present a darker take on our heroes. He does so, but at what expense? Whereas the book by all means illustrated a darker take, it did so through a compromise with the more magical and "Christmassy" elements of the first few Harry Potter books as well as the scarier elements. Newell completely abandons the magic of the first few films and goes for an all out "noir", losing one of the best bits about a Harry Potter film: magic.
The script remains tarred, leaving out some of the best and most entertaining elements of the novel such as the opening Quidditch World Cup - an exhilarating read and surely an excellent addition to the film? Once again, the elements that made the book so magical are completely left out in the script and are failed to be remedied by Newell's poor direction. The script's inability to identify emotions and character is further exemplified through the completely underdeveloped problem of Ron's jealousy of Harry, as well as the seemingly over-developed problem of Ron and Hermione's increasingly changing relationship. Where the book merely hints at such a concept, the script-writer deems it at the forefront and shows a half-assed attempt at a romantic comedy within a few weak scenes. It doesn't help when Emma Watson takes it seriously, either.
That being said, the special effects are relatively good throughout the three tasks that our Tri-Wizard champions must face - ranging from the amazing sequence of Harry dodging left and right to avoid the Hungarian Horntail Dragon hot on his heels, to the murky depths of the school lake as Harry explores the underworld of the blue. The cinematography of the film is fairly decent also, but by no means a notch above the previous three films. Other technical aspects such as the score and the editing are relatively impressive but again pose no substantial superiority over the previous three films.
To sum up the film ... Different; yes. Better; not necessarily. A darker take definitely, Newell forgets to show the real magic behind the Harry Potter franchise. Poor acting for major characters, a patchy and inconsistent script that seemingly misinterprets the brilliance of Rowling's fourth novel, and Newell's inability to direct both the action and the actors on screen result in a film that is mediocre at best and completely undeserving of the recent hype that has accompanied its theatrical release.
All we can hope for is that the next film brings back the magic.
- Dec 4, 2005