A 'Potter' Preview
"Harry Potter" fanatics across the country are all a-quiver with anticipation, as the next movie in the series based on J.K. Rowling's novels -- "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" -- opens just one week from today.
Not to worry, young wizards: "Goblet" is easily the best movie in the series so far.
Given the general dullness of the first two films -- "Sorcerer's Stone" and "Chamber of Secrets" -- that might not seem like high praise. But after Alfonso Cuaron's much-improved take on "Prisoner of Azkaban," I feared the latest installment might plummet like Harry after a bad hit in a Quidditch match. I was wrong.
"Goblet of Fire" is the first Potter movie I've seen before reading the book (go ahead Hogwarts-heads, mock my lack of commitment to the Rowling regime), so that may have contributed to my enjoyment. I was never entirely sure where the story was going, and that's always a good thing. But I also thought Mike Newell did a terrific job of showcasing marvelous digital effects -- the stadium at the Quidditch World Cup is pretty spectacular -- without losing his grip on the absorbing narrative. At a running time of two-and-a-half hours, any film has the potential to lose its audience. This one never does.
The principal young actors -- Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione and Rupert Grint as Ron -- are much more convincing this time as adolescents confronting hormonal change and threats from a certain dark lord (I shall not name him). I'm not sure whether that's a function of maturity or Newell's directing style, but there's a naturalness between these three that hasn't been nearly as apparent in the previous films. I particularly enjoyed the plot developments surrounding the Triwizard Ball -- it's like Harry Potter meets "Pretty in Pink."
I close with a note of caution. This "Harry" is a darker, more adult movie than any of its predecessors. Many children under the age of 8 or 9 will get freaked out by all the dragons and spooky sea creatures, not to mention the sight of a certain character whose name starts with a V (again, I shall not name him). Parents would be wise to hold off on taking younger Potter fans to see this. Of course, they probably will anyway. But just don't say I didn't warn you.
Posted by: Vicki | November 17, 2005 6:14 PM | Report abuse
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