Top critical review
19 people found this helpful
on 1 March 2006
I was very keen to see just how a book like Goblet of Fire was going to be translated into a film. Not only is the book huge, it takes a turn towards real violence and death that has only been alluded to before, plus the characters themselves are changing. They've hit their teens and experiencing all the angst that goes with that. So how does the film do? Well it has merits and flaws...
First the merits... It manages to hit the main thrust of the book well and generally captures the spirit of what happens, moving the plot forward to Book 5. It cut out the House Elf sub-plot (thank goodness). The effects are excellent and the young actors are growing in stature (both physically and in their performances). Daniel Radcliffe deserves particular mention as he has improved greatly and really now seems to be under the skin of his alterego not to mention all the fantastic work he did doing the underwater scenes. They are all the more effective for it. I also liked the way his growing crush on Cho Chang was dealt with. Katie Leung was well cast for her looks and her charming Scots accent and generally the rest of the casting was good, including Miranda Richardson as evil journalist Rita Skeeter.
Now the flaws... I am sure most people would agree that fitting in such a big story requires deft editing. But the film rattles through as if each scene is a set piece in itself to explain a particular plot point. I think it would have been better to take a breath now and again instead of spending so much time on scenes like the dragon test which is way too long in my opinion. Some of the moments are overdone, particularly in the relationship between Ron and Hermione which boils over to a point where it no longer relates to the book (heck by the end of Book 6 they have barely acknowledged their real feelings!). I was also quite disappointed with the great 'unveiling' of Voldemort. Not as scary as I'd hoped and strangely the long-winded exposition comes across like a bad episode of Scooby Doo when on film rather than in print. Hopefully more chance for Fiennes to grow into this in OOTP? But my biggest source of frustration is that Michael Gambon's Dumbledore still bears no resemblance to the character I know, either physically or in his personality. JKR's Dumbledore is quirky but not loud or aggressive. He emanates power, he is tall and thin with a white beard not a straggly grey one. I suspect Michael Gambon (whom I am usually a big fan of) simply wants to differentiate his own performance from the late Richard Harris, who in my eyes was perfectly cast. This is a great shame as it spoils the films for me. When I saw 'Troy' it occurred to me that Peter O'Toole might have been a better choice?
So some major and minor flaws and some things to celebrate. I think this film visually was the most successful of the four and the promise is of even better to come, particularly in the performances of the young actors. As a fan of the books, I found the film enjoyable and on the whole true to their spirit - but I hope for more improvements in the next installment.