Directed by: Mike Newell
Written by:Steven Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman
Released: December 1, 2005
Grade: B+

It’s Harry Potter’s fourth year at Hogwarts.  Instead of having to study and attend classes (which are seldom seen), it would seem the school’s focus is on the special Tri-wizard Tournament.  Three schools are competing and those who wish to take on the difficult tasks have placed their names inside the goblet of fire.

The Goblet has narrowed the field down to three and Headmaster Dumbledore (Gambon) reads the names to the students – Victor Crum, Fleur Delacour and Cedric Diggory.  But wait, there’s more!  Harry Potter’s (Radcliffe) name is read out which comes as a great shock since he never put him name in the Goblet and is below the required age of 17.  Something is suspicious but Dumbledore and his loyal teachers have accepted the decision that Harry should compete.

When not competing or preparing for the Tournament, Harry and his two close friends, Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson), are discovering new feelings.  Harry’s developed his first crush on fellow student Cho Chang and both Ron and Hermione are struggling to hide their own feelings for each other.  Their newly found puberty provides the humour of the film and the cute performances of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson show they’re acting abilities are progressing nicely.

If you’ve read Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire, you’ll remember it exceeded 600 pages.  How can you squash so much material into a three hour film?  The answer is with great difficulty.  Screenwriter Steve Cloves (who adapted the three previous novels) has been forced to rush much of the plot and leave out several interesting subplots.  Some characters, such as Malfoy, Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall, are hardly seen.  If it wasn’t for the rapid rate at which the younger cast members are aging, I’d almost prefer to see the book split into two separate films.

A new director is at the helm with Mike Newell (Four Weddings & A Funeral) taking on the important responsibility.  There is a heavy reliance on visual effects (as expected) but Newell has choreographed some very suspenseful action sequences.  All three tournament contests look fantastic but once again, I only wish there was more time to show more.

As has been well documented, this new Harry Potter film is the darkest yet and has earned an M-rating here in Australia.  It’s a valid classification and even I was surprised by how disturbingly graphic some scenes were.  When you see Harry’s confrontation with the talkative Lord Voldemort (Fiennes), you’ll agree.

I’ve read all six Harry Potter books released to date and whilst she’s no Mark Twain, author J.K. Rowling has a knack for capturing her readers.  Her books are difficult to put down and I’ve had many late nights reading on in eager anticipation.  The Harry Potter movies have given us the opportunity to visualise her work but without the depth and detail offered by the novels, it’s harder to become engrossed and harder to be enthralled.