Saturday, November 19, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Lives up to the hype and then some!

Harry, the hero

Mike Newell is the first British director to helm a Harry Potter flick and it shows! His best input into the franchise has been the way he's captured the essence of the British schooling system. And in no scene is this exemplified better than the one in Prof. Snape's class where one of the Weasely twins asks a girl out to a dance ball when the teacher's back is turned! The humour in that scene is Wodehouse-ian, wickedly so!!!

To those who haven't read their Potters, Prof. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is the most malevolent of the Hogwarts teachers, sworn enemy to our hero, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), whose friends, the Weasely twins, are the irrepressible class clowns. And while we are discussing Potter-illiterate muggles, here's the story. Harry's fourth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy finds the school playing host to two other foreign schools for the Triwizard tournament, a series of magical tasks, with each school represented by their "champion". The champion for each school will be selected by the magical Goblet of Fire!

In an explicable occurance, Hogwarts finds itself represented by two champions, strong and handsome Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) and an ineligible Harry Potter. Forced into the tournament, Harry must face fearsome fire-breathing dragons, underwater merepeople and a spectacular maze for the final task. But where there is Harry, there must be You-Know-Who and this time he appears in person, in the form of Ralph Fiennes, who utterly saves the otherwise poorly done ending.

The Hogwarts ritual of having a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher each year also continues this time with Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody, who has a prosthetic leg and a magic, swivelling all-seeing eye! His fine and totally unhinged performance is utterly exhilarating to watch!

Meanwhile, being teenagers now, the hormones beigin to range and our heroes are not immune to them. A Yule Ball presents the opportunity for some emotions to run wild, along with a few tears. The whole concept of teenage flirtations, though, was never handled well in the books and its not so here too! Perhaps, Newell realized that, which is why he plays most of the sequence out for laughs and is fairly successful in getting it out of the way.

Goblet of Fire is the fourth book in the Harry Potter series and it is generally accepted that it isn't the best one. What it has however is a series of magnificent set-pieces, like a Quiddich World Cup and the aforementioned tasks, begging to be translated into the big screen. Paradoxically, the voluminous and rambling nature of the book meant that such a translation would be very difficult to do without losing much of the plot's cohesiveness. Keeping that in mind, Mike Newell has done a terrific job in giving us an exciting and often, nail-biting movie. And the liberties he's taken with some plot lines, however sacrilegious to hard-core fans, are easily forgiven because, as our hero says, "God, I love magic!" And by God, is it FUN!


Blogger Alex said...

Hangover's still there, felt li'l uneasy getting back to the muggle world after 2.5 hours of sheer magic. Good account!

6:44 AM  
Blogger Santosh Sankar said...

Thanks! Me (and 10 friends) had an absolute blast at the movie! Definitely worth a rewatch!

6:46 AM  

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