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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Directed by Mike Newell
Starring Daniel Radclife, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Much like the adolescent hero of the series, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is experiencing inner turmoil and sudden growing pains.  Hogwarts has been selected to host the Triwizard Tournament, one of the most spectacular magic competitions in the world.  Brave wizards and witches from three different schools, including the hosting Hogwarts, toss their names written on a piece of paper into the Goblet of Fire to enter themselves into the tournament, and later, the Goblet spits three names back out- those names that are retrieved are bound by contract to compete in the tournament.

But something unexpected happens; after the three names are withdrawn, a fourth is emitted from the Goblet- Harry Potter.  Yet Harry is too young to have entered into the tournament, a magical field surrounding the Goblet of Fire allowed only those 17 or older to enter their names.  The professors suspect foul play, someone intentionally wishing to put Harry into dangerís way.  Harryís friends, and most of the other students, think Harry cheated; in a single night, he becomes the butt of all jokes and social jeering.  Harry now has to prepare for three mysterious and dangerous events to be held throughout the year in the Triwizard Tournament, and with some of his closest friendsí backs turned on him.  What a way to begin Year Four.
The darkest and most violent of the Harry Potter films yet, The Goblet of Fire is less about the wonder of the fantasy J. K. Rowling created and more about its characters themselves.  The original trio of Harry, Hermoine, and Ron are growing up, and with it comes deeper, scarier, and more mature storylines.  Lord Voldemort is on the rise, and his shadow looms over the entirety of the film.  After an attack by Voldemortís Death Eaters on the Quidditch World Cup, the dark lordís mark is left in the clouds over the devastation- a hideous skull and snake design.  Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts and usually a source of comfort and strength for Harry Potter, seems barely able to keep in step with it all.  
The movie features great performances all around.  The ensemble has sunk into their rolls without a hitch, and though The Goblet of Fire is less brisk than 2003ís The Prisoner of Azkaban, it is marvelous in its special effects and strong in its storytelling, and is completely superior to any other fantasy or adventure film since The Return of the King.  Another year at Hogwarts, another great film for Potterheads and the casual alike.
Jonathan Avants 11/20/05



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