Yesterday, I played hooky from my manuscript and went with a friend to see "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
Be forewarned: this is not a film for small children. It is two and a half hours long and very dark. On our way out, my friend had to restrain me from telling a couple with small children who were waiting on line not to bring their kids into the film. I mean, didn't they read the books? Don't they know what happens? Mad Eye Moody alone is enough to give a five-year-old nightmares for years.
In this fourth outing, Harry and his friends are now teenagers, full of hormones and angst. Harry waits too long to invite Cho to the Triwizard Ball, Ron gets jealous over all the attention Harry receives and Hermione struggles with the fact that her two best friends are years younger than she is in maturity.
One of my critique partners, Jeanne Laws (www.jeannelaws.com), commented that the film is choppy. She's right. Having to pack so much into a single film is a big undertaking, but the new director does a credible job. Of necessity, some things get short shrift. The World Quidditch match gets very little attention and, except for a few scenes with Professor McGonagall and Mad Eye Moody, the school year is barely mentioned.
The Hollywood Reporter sums it up well: "The three 'tasks' of the competition provide the backbone of the movie. Each is a magnificent set piece of action, danger and trial by fire reminiscent of the early 'Star Wars' battles. One involves a contest with very cranky, fire-spewing dragons. The next sends the four contestants into the dark waters of the Black Lake to rescue marooned friends. The final challenge happens in a malevolent maze of tall, vicious hedges where pathways are thick with mist."
Ralph Fiennes is a fabulous Voldemort. I've been concerned that they wouldn't have a strong enough actor to pull the Dark Lord off. Fiennes nails it.
All in all, GOF is a great adventure. It can't be compared to the lighthearted hijinks of SS or COS, but it's a fitting successor to POA and sets up the next film in the series (OOTP) nicely.