Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire ****

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“Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire” continues the trend of these films becoming darker as they go along.  This was the first Potter movie to get a PG-13 rating, and rightfully so.  Some of the events at the end of the film will clearly be too much for younger viewers.  For those who have followed along faithfully, you should not be disappointed. 

As the story opens, we get to see the epic world cup of Quittich.  This involves the game being played in a stadium that seems about a hundred times as vast as the one at Hogwarts.  The surrounding areas have become a camp ground for wizards.  I was very amused at all their little tents, complete with chimney’s and doors.  Inside of course is a space quite larger then the outside would seem. 

After the match, the celebration is disrupted by the arrival of the Death Eaters.  These are the followers of Voldomort, who show up with the soul intention of creating havoc and mayhem.  They literally burn the camp site to the ground, just before throwing up Voldomort’s sign in the air.  This scene shows how the intensity in these films has gone straight up.  These Death Eaters mean business. 

After the opening events, we find our heroes on the familiar trip back to Hogwarts.  As opposed to going through another familiar year, the story this time involves the ingenious idea of adding foreign exchange students.  But they are not just here to add some fresh characters, they are here to compete in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.  This is a legendary contest, where three champions will compete in a series of death defying tasks that are designed to test their wits, their fear, and their knowledge of magic.  The contestants are chosen by the Goblet of Fire, which is a magical artifact that is constantly burning.  After the three champions are chosen, the Goblet makes the unexpected decision of choosing a fourth champion, which of course turns out to be the under aged Harry Potter.

A sinister plot is afoot.  Dumbledore and his fellow faculty agree to let it play out and see where this goes, allowing Harry to compete, much to the dismay of the jealous Ron.  The contest involves battling a giant dragon, surviving an underwater expedition and navigating through a giant labyrinth maze.  Each task proves to be more dangerous then the next. 

Of course, what would a Harry Potter movie be without a new defense against the dark arts teacher.  This time we get Mad Eye Moody, who seems to be built of spare parts.  He is a former dark wizard catcher turned teacher, whose methods are a little unorthadoxed.  He is played by Brendan Gleason as a gruff, no nonsense wizard, who prefers to show you how its done as opposed to reading it from text. 

The other new character, is not really new at all, just that this is his first appearence in human form, if you want to call it that.  Voldomort, the dark and powerful wizard that killed Harry’s parents, is resurrected near the end of the film.  He is brought back to life and reunited with his Death Eaters.  He then faces off with Harry in a magical duel.  Ralph Fiennes is the actor chosen to play Voldomort, and what a job he does.  He brings this character to life, and invests him with pure evil.  His outward appearance is that of a man like snake, sort of like his personality.  He seems capable of limitless evil.  I look forward to the final chapter in which he will really be fully fleshed out.

But this time out is not all about brooding and dark magic.  As our young heroes get older, they start to discover the opposite sex.  Harry and Ron start to realize just how difficult it is to brave up and ask a girl to the upcoming dance.  These scenes seem straight out of a John Hughes movie, and director Mike Newell does a wonderful job of balancing the light heartiness with the darker scenes. 

It is truly amazing to see these young actors come in to their own.  They have grown up so much in front of our very eyes.  It is hard to believe that Daniel Radcliffe was a little kid when he started with this role.  Now these roles are like second nature to their performers.  This has become one of the best and most important franchises in a long time.

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