Competitor Potter: Heart in Pitter-Patter

I’ve read J.K. Rowling’s fourth entry into Harry Potter series and yet I still came out of the movie theater surprisingly a-maze-d. The obese plot was substantially slimmed down, and the result is a wand-erfully brisk film. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” flies from one big incident to another and yet, it never feels hurried. Unlike films that exceed the two-hour mark, this one has scenes that never dragon (drag on, get it?).

In their fourth year, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are in the midst of something special. Foreign students from other schools of magic arrive in Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament, a triathlon-like competition for budding wizards. Three contestants, one from each school, are selected by the Goblet of Fire: Quidditch superstar Victor Krum of Durmstrang, Beauxbatons’ French babe Fleur Delacour, and Hogwart’s own golden boy Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson). But, for some unknown reason, the Goblet also chooses Harry Potter to compete, even if he’s underage. Ah – the mystery! What schemes are brewing off screen? You’d have to read the book or pay careful attention to the movie to find out.

Though I like the book better (and yes, having read the book prevented me from being confused), there’s something magical about the story visually coming to life. I loved the grandeur of the Quidditch World Cup and the fancy entrances of the Beauxbatons (a flying carriage pulled by winged horses) and the Drumstrangs (a submerged ship). The Triwizard challenges are successfully staged. There’s much excitement and anxiety as Harry battle a dragon, perform an underwater rescue and navigate through a giant maze. And the troubles don’t stop there. The teen wizard has to confront problems we can relate to, such as dealing with friendship fallouts (Ron’s refusal to talk to Harry), romantic aspirations (Harry asks the cute Cho Chang to the dance), and traumatic outcomes (a stunning hankie event). The movie engages us on so many things; it’s miraculous how everything seems to have been incorporated in a matter of hours. We know that the Potter franchise is profitable, but with movie tickets costing about ten bucks each, “Harry Potter” is also among the most generous films of the year.

Grade: A

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes
Screenplay by
Steve Kloves
Based on the novel by
J.K. Rowling
Directed by
Mike Newell
Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images