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With: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman
Written by: Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Directed by: Mike Newell
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images
Running Time: 157
Date: 11/06/2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

A Kind of Magic

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

J.K. Rowling's fourth Harry Potter novel Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000) weighs in at more than twice the size of the first two books, and is about 300 pages longer than the third book. Nevertheless, screenwriter Steve Kloves and director Mike Newell have managed a new movie of about the same length as the first three, without losing any narrative flow.

Moreover, series newcomer Newell beautifully keeps with the spirit of his predecessors. Alfonso Cuaron (Y tu mamá también) had directed last year's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with an unusual, uncanny sense of darkness, weather and just a hint of madness. Newell, who has always relied too heavily on strong screenplays like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Donnie Brasco, simply follows in these footsteps, doing his best to continue the inky, shadowy feel.

It's Kloves (Wonder Boys), though, who deserves most of the credit for his fourth, increasingly brilliant adaptation of the increasingly long novels. With great gashes, he excises all the things we already know: that Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) spends the summer with his horrible relatives the Dursleys; that Harry and friends must catch the secret train back to Hogwarts; that Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) is the school bully and that he hates Harry; and that there is a yearly Quidditch cup and a contest between the four houses of Hogwarts.

He gets right to the action. This year Hogwarts hosts the Tri-Wizard tournament, and though Harry is not old enough to compete, his name is mysteriously drawn. So on top of figuring out ways around the tournament's three deadly tasks, he and Ron (Rupert Grint) must also face an even greater challenge: finding a date for their first formal school ball. Additionally, there's a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Mad-Eye Moody (a terrific Brendan Gleeson), and Harry suffers a recurring nightmare about Lord you-know-who.

And so, despite its 157 minutes, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is actually a model of exhilarating, economic storytelling. The performances have grown richer, notably Radcliffe and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger. The filmmakers employ slick, smooth action sequences and do not hold back from a rather terrifying ending. Indeed, the most exciting thing about this new sequel is the trust the filmmakers seem to have developed in their audience. They allow us to fill in the blanks and to use our own emotions and judgments. And that in itself is a kind of magic.

In 2010, Warner Home Video released a deluxe Blu-Ray box set. It comes with an amazing, high-def presentation of the film and tons of goodies, like character cards, a hardcover photo book, and two discs worth of extras. The first disc is a Blu-Ray with a brand-new documentary, and the second disc is a DVD with (presumably) most of the same extras from the past versions of this release.

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