Directed by Mike Newell. UK/USA. 2005.

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From the moment the first preview for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire appeared on our television screen, the soundtrack to my life has sounded like this: "Can I go to Harry Potter? Is it out yet? I want to go see Harry Potter!!! I like Harry Potter!!! I'll clean my room for a week if I can go see Harry Potter!! IWANTTOGOSEEHARRYPOTTER!!! PLEEEEEEEEASE!!!"

I was not opposed to the idea. My daughter and I have read all the books. (I have since re-read them on my own.) We have been to see all the movies, where I watched in amazement as my daughter, a girl who generally can't stand still long enough to do up a jacket, waited patiently in line for 45 minutes at a time. She saved up her allowance to buy the DVD's. She's announced that she no longer wants to grow up to be a fashion model, but has instead decided to become "very smart, like Hermione." So, on opening day, we headed off to the theatre, only to discover that the intense action-fantasy book we loved had been made into a dark, violent, frightening movie.  Sitting with my daughter after the movie, she summed up the problems nicely. She shoveled a handful of popcorn into mouth, and, while munching, said "Mommy, it was too scary. The book wasn't that scary. And there was a LOT of stuff in the book that wasn't in the movie too."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire chronicles Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This year, Harry and his classmates are thrilled to discover that Hogwarts is to host a legendary event, the Tri-Wizard tournament. Three students are to be chosen by the Goblet of Fire to represent their school, in three tasks that challenge their magical abilities and even endanger their lives. Much to everyone's surprise, the Goblet selects not three, but four champions. An underage extra champion with a unique scar on his forehead.....

Daniel Radcliffe portrays Harry Potter. Radcliffe is an outstanding actor, who seems to gain more emotional range through each installment of the Harry Potter series. Radcliffe's dramatic power lies in his eyes, able to flash from insecurity when attempting to ask the girl he has a crush on to the Yule Ball, to ferocity when battling a dragon, to a beautifully layered mixture of hurt, anger, and stubborness when arguing with his best friend. Radcliffe has taken a character who, in the hands of a lesser actor could have become cartoonish, and made him fascinating, complex, and absolutely irristable. Very impressive.

Emma Watson plays Hermione Granger. In an age of consumer products that seem to emphasize that how a young girl looks, and what she wears, is more important then her smarts or personality, the character of Hermione Granger is a cinematic miracle. The fact that she is played by such a fabulous young actress is the icing on the cake. Watson has artfully interpreted Hermione, making sure to take every detail of Hermione's character from author JK Rowling's books, and then adding her own special touches. In doing so she manages to take a character who is already perfectly constructed, and made her a deeper, stronger, and both book and street smart girl. A gifted actress.

Rupert Grint plays Ron Weasley. Grint, like Radcliffe, has an incredible emotional range for such a young actor. Where Grint seperates himself from the pack is in his fabulous comic ability and timing. In a movie that touches on some terribly dark subjects, Grint lends the light, able to be both dramatic, and hilarious through the same ten minutes of film.

I can't fault the performances given in "Goblet of Fire." The three leads were all excellent. The supporting characters were all quite vibrant and well performed. The main problem I had with the movie was the script.  My daughter and I are big fans of the book, which as most of you out there will agree, is a rip-roaring adventure, and as such we were expecting quite a lot from the film. We were very disapointed. I knew that some things would have to be cut out obviously, or we would have entered the theater that evening and left two days later. But the slices that were made detracted from the story line, and made the film itself choppy. Major events in the story have been either re-worked to the point that they're unrecognizable or eliminated altogether. Characters who had major roles in the book aren't present in the movie.  I understand that most directors adapting books for the big screen are wanting to "massage" their inspirational material, to make it their own. The problem? The Harry Potter books are so well written that the drastic unnessecary changes made to Goblet of Fire can only lead to either an audience filled with Harry Potter fans who've been let down by the changes to their beloved book, or confused people who haven't read the books, and will find that the story doesn't make any sense. My recommendation? Save yourself some money, stay home, and rent a Harry Potter DVD instead.  Harry Potter family fun isn't found in a movie so dark it caused a little girl behind us to whimper out, "Mommy...Is Harry gonna die?" Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is best left to the adult fans to appreciate.

Appropriate Ages: 10 and up
Parental Warning Bells: Lead Characters in Peril/Intense Fantasy 
ActionSequences Involving Dragons, and Agressive Mer-People/Fantasy Horror
Sequence/Death of a Lead Character
Parental Film Barometer: If your child would be OK with Legend, or Star Wars: Episode III they should be fine with this movie.
Parental Film Content Warning: The final 20 minutes of Goblet of Fire are VERY INTENSE. They contain a classmate's death, some VERY disturbing images, and Harry being badly injured. In the showing we attended, no less then 8 parent/child groups had to leave, due to their kids being so upset.

Jen Johnston
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