The International Writers Magazine
:Film Review

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Dir Mike Newell
Cast: Eric Sykes,Timothy Spall, David Tennant, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Mark Williams, and more
Gemma Ayres review

s a huge Harry Potter fan, I approached the cinema on Friday night with a mixture of excitement and nerves. Eager to see the film, directed by Mike Newell, I was at the same time apprehensive; how could J.K Rowling’s 629 page action-packed novel, so full of twists and turns, be cut down for a cinema audience, and yet still retain the magic and suspense that makes the books so popular?

This film, the fourth in the series, sees Harry unwittingly selected to take part in the Triwizard Tournament, where he must compete in three strenuous, even brutal tasks. Throughout the year Harry finds himself taking on dragons and merpeople and even facing Lord Voldemort himself; however none of these can compare with the toughest challenge Harry has yet had to face at Hogwarts – asking a girl to the Yule Ball.
Harry and his friends are growing up, and this film is as much about friendships, crushes and teen angst as it is about the battle between good and evil. Harry and Ron fall out, Hermione finds she has a new admirer and Ron must face public humiliation by attending the Ball in frilly dress robes. The darker elements of the story are balanced well with the comic, which come mostly from Rupert Grint as Ron, but also from an amusing scene where Malfoy is turned into a ferret.

The Goblet of Fire introduces several new characters into Harry’s world; there’s the deliciously irritating Rita Skeeter, played by Miranda Richardson, the mysterious Mad-Eye Moody, (Brendan Gleeson) and, of course, Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes. Whilst Voldemort’s physical appearance was extremely close to the book’s description, certain aspects of the character came across as rather too ‘ordinary’. Although he was certainly chilling, his frightening appearance was somewhat let down by the lack of haunting menace in his voice which is brought alive in the books through Rowling’s descriptions of Voldemort’s high, cold voice and sinister whispers.

Dumbledore too seemed different in the film; he was far more anxious and agitated, which in my mind betrayed the image of Dumbledore as a calming influence on Harry’s life and a constant source of wisdom and quietly-spoken advice.

One of the problems that screenplay adapters have to contend with is the fact that fans already have an image of the characters in their head before they see the film. Some of the casting in the films, such as Alan Rickman as Snape, could not be more perfect, but some to me just feels wrong. Roger Lloyd Pack, probably best known for his roles in Only Fools and Horses and The Vicar of Dibley, plays Bartemius Crouch, the stiff, stern, rule-loving Ministry official. Whilst he gave a good performance, I just couldn’t see him in that role and therefore found it difficult to identify with the character.

The special effects in the film, particularly the dragons, were stunning. Harry’s performance in the first task is made more spectacular and dramatic for a cinema audience, and includes a high-speed chase around the castle which was exciting and visually powerful.

There were, of course, changes made from the book; this was to be expected. Some worked well to further the plot in a condensed space of time, but in some cases the effect of quickening the pace of the film also meant that some of the suspense was lost. More clues as to the twist at the end of the story were given from the beginning; having already read the book I was aware of this twist, but for non-readers in the audience I wonder whether there was really a shock at the end, or if it had all been made too predictable from the start.

There were omissions in the film which seemed to me might create confusion for non-readers, but perhaps this is because I already know the full explanation from reading the books, and so noticed more what was missing. The truth about Neville’s parents is hinted at but not really discussed further, and the significance of the Dark Mark and what happened during the Priori Incantatem spell is not explained as fully as I would have expected. Obviously time is an issue when making a film, and I am not suggesting the filmmakers create a five hour long epic, (at two hours and forty minutes the film is already long), but certain things seemed to have been left out that I felt would have done well to be included, and there were parts of the film that I felt could have been cut. Rita Skeeter’s article on Hermione did nothing to further the plot, and given how most of Rita’s role in the book is cut in the film, this scene didn’t really seem to fit.

Some scenes were disappointing, and this is mostly true of the scenes at the Quidditch World Cup. I understand the time restraints, but after seeing the huge Quidditch stadium, the thousands of spectators and the players soaring magnificently into the air, having the action cut just as the game is about to begin to the gang in their tent celebrating Ireland’s victory was extremely anti-climactic.

The conclusion of the film seemed rather messy; without spoiling the end, let’s just say that comments were made which had me shaking my head in disbelief, and seemed to be a lame attempt to tie up the loose ends which are so fully explained in the book.

But don’t think I didn’t like the film; I loved it. The very nature of adaptations forces changes to be made; film and literature are such different mediums, a truly loyal adaptation of the book could never be made, therefore each much be enjoyed separately, and can never really be compared. I strongly recommend the film for viewers of all ages – but if you haven’t yet read the books, I recommend these far more.
© Gemma Ayres November 21st 2005
Nov 29th - Potter and Goblet has taken $400 million dollars since the opening weekend

Gemma is a Creative Writing major at the University of Portsmouth
Chocolat Dir Lasse Halstrom
Gemma Ayres review

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
Gemma Ayres

More Reviews


© Hackwriters 1999-2005 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy - no liability accepted by or affiliates.