Goblet of Fire
by Shmuel Ross
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November 18, 2005 marked the U.S. release of the fourth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This is the central installment of the seven-part series. The tone is darker than that of the previous films. Voldemort returns, and bad things happen to good people. There are also dragons. The dragons are scary, but they're also cool.
New Movie, New Director
The Harry Potter film series replaces directors almost as often as it replaces Defense Against the Dark Arts professors. This time, Mike Newell becomes the first British director of the bunch. Where the previous director, Alfonso Cuarón, gave Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a more fanciful feel, departing from the book at whim, Newell grounds Goblet of Fire in its British boarding school setting, and mostly sticks to the text.
Newell does abridge a great deal, however. The book version of Prisoner of Azkaban is 435 pages. Goblet of Fire is 734. At one point, it was rumored that the book would have to be made into two films. Newell got it down to one by focusing on the Triwizard Tournament main plot and cutting most of the subplots. Hermione's quest to help house elves is gone; Dobby and Winky don't appear at all. Rita Skeeter's secret remains unrevealed. Fred and George get no further toward opening a joke shop.
Our Take on the Film
In the opinion of this reviewer, the cuts work. The film zips along, staying true to the story and keeping all the key points. There are lovely, if short, performances by Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and the Weasley twins (James and Oliver Phelps). Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) is as eccentric as one would hope, and You-Know-Who (Ralph Fiennes) is very creepy. Perhaps the best surprise among the supporting cast is Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), who finally gets some time to shine on the big screen.
Biggest Opening Ever
Goblet of Fire had the best opening weekend of any of the Harry Potter films, taking in $101.4 million in the United States and 14.9 million pounds in the United Kingdom, and a total of $181.4 million in 21 countries.