Time: 157 mins.
Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
SYNOPSIS: When Harry Potter's name emerges from the Goblet of Fire, he becomes a competitor in a grueling battle for glory among three wizarding schools at the Triwizard Tournament. But since Harry never submitted his name for the Tournament, who did?
BOTTOM LINE: As a fan of the books, I have to give credit to any director willing to take on the challenge of adapting such popular and dense material. Newell strips the fourth installment to the bones concentrating mostly on the arrival of the world's other student wizards and the Triwizard tournament, which is not exactly a bad thing. It expands the story by showing there's more to the world than Hogwarts, and brings new challenges to our threesome. Even at 2 1/2 hours there's no way the filmmaker's could have included everything that happened at Hogwarts during a full year. While it's a shame many of the nuances of the story had to be left out, by this time the characters are well established enough to allow the filmmakers to focus on the action without much detriment to their development. The trios friendship takes an unfortunate backseat, but things move along so quickly from one life-threatening situation to another, only hardcore fans will care. We do get some of their first love pangs though, which officially shoves them out of the simplicity of childhood for good and helps break up the constant danger.
The art direction appears even more eye-catching and incredible this time around, giving Hogwarts a magical, yet menacing mood. The special effects are also a step up from the first films, especially Harry's fight with the dragon and the underwater rescue during the tournament. His battle at the end of the film with a physically-renewed Lord Voldermort is terrifying, due mostly to Fiennes maniacal creepiness. The psychic connection between Harry and Voldermort was one of the more mysterious and intriguing aspects of the fourth book which helped make their inevitable confrontation all the more powerful. While their battle is still the highpoint of the film, the fact that their bond is rarely touched upon strips the ending of some of its' complexity and emotion unless you're new to the story and then you won't miss it. If you're a fan, you can fill in the blanks yourself. Though Pattison doesn't have much screentime his tragic demise is more powerful than I expected due to pitch perfect acting and proper editing. Rarely do adaptations deliver the essence and excitement of good storytelling to the screen, however, these films seem to be getting better and better as the series goes along. Now that Harry's world has been established, the characters, and their problems, are blossoming before our eyes. I for one can't wait for the next installment.