Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The game is afoot before Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) even enters Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his fourth year, because the wicked forces of Lord Voldemort have not paused for a summer vacation. Instead they've haunted Harry's dreams and even hosted a fiery demonstration at the Quidditch World Cup Championships. Yet if the fourteen-year-old boy hopes things will settle down once he is within the walls of the ancient learning academy, he is about to be disappointed.
The new school term brings an exciting opportunity for Hogwarts to participate in a Triwizard Tournament by selecting one student representative to face off against competitors from two other magical institutions. It is a dangerous sport and only the oldest pupils are allowed to put their names forward. So when the Goblet of Fire, the enchanted object given the task of choosing the winning contestants, pulls from its blue flame a piece of parchment on which is scribbled "Harry Potter," there are suspicions of interference from evil sources. The only way to know for sure however is to let the novice wizard play along--and hope he can discover (or at least out maneuver) any secret strategy.
Those familiar with J.K. Rowling's books will be well aware that her storylines are maturing with her characters. The film adaptation of this volume reflects the plot's passage from childhood to young adult fare, which is appropriately marked by a PG-13 rating from the MPAA (Motion Picture association of America)--as opposed to the PG classification awarded to the first three movies. Parents with children who have grown up along with Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) may not be too alarmed by this increasing darkness. But those with little ones just recently introduced to the famous trio may find the tales are outpacing the comfort level of such budding fans.
The violence, which includes moments of peril throughout, depictions of injury and death, as well as the re-incarnation of you-know-who (Ralph Fiennes), will present the biggest content issues, although not the only ones. The movie also explores the boy-girl relationships of its adolescent cast. These portrayals are usually humorous (like the awkwardness of finding a date for the Yule Ball), and provide opportunities for some sexual innuendo (such as the sly comments made by a female ghost who interrupts Harry's bath). The use of mild profanities appears to be part of the coming-of-age too.
None of this will surprise avid readers. Their chief concerns will be the impact of another new director (Mike Newell) and whether or not the screenwriter (Steve Kloves again) stays true to the original. These word-watchers should be happy to know that despite having to whittle down a 400-plus-page book into a two and a half hour script, their final adaptation looks as good as the pervious work done on this series. Nor will they be disappointed by the special effects which bring fire-breathing dragons, meddling mermaids, harassing hedges and cauldron concoctions frightfully to life. While the production is sometimes lacking in expressing the story's more emotional elements, it captures most of the author's magical imagination and should continue to charm Harry's faithful following.