British director Mike Newell’s tough-minded take on the Potter mythos lacks the playfulness that Alfonso Cuaron brought to Azkaban, but it certainly moves at a hell of a clip. The story? Oh, you know: teenage wizard and his friends save the world from evil, yet again. This time Harry has to contend with a resurrected Voldemort, survive the dangerous Tri-Wizard tournament and control his own raging hormones.
Goblet of Fire marks the point when JK Rowling stopped writing mere books and started creating tomes. Some doubted that Newell could cram the 630 pages of Potter IV into a single film. He’s managed it, thanks to judicious cutting – no Dursleys, no house elves – but even at 157 minutes, it’s a tight fit. Goblet Of Fire is relentlessly crammed with incident; you’re never more than a minute away from a fight, a spell, or a monster. The downside is that the story feels rushed, and quieter scenes are given little room to breathe in the headlong tumble towards the next set piece.
“SOMBRE AUTUMNAL TONES”
Thankfully, the wow factor is high enough to compensate. The special effects, from a thrilling Quidditch World Cup to Voldemort’s twitchy nostrils, are first rate, and Newell shoots in sombre autumnal tones that give the story a melancholy feel in spite of the choppy editing. Performances are generally functional rather than inspired, but Brendan Gleeson’s Mad Eye Moody practically leaps off the screen, and Ralph Fiennes makes a deeply creepy Dark Lord. In short, it’s a focussed, efficient film that lacks charm but gets the job done.