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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mike Newell
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Stanislav Ianevski
Writing Credits:
Steven Kloves, J.K. Rowling (novel)

Tagline:
Dark And Difficult Times Lie Ahead.

Synopsis:
When Harry Potter's name emerges from the Goblet of Fire, he becomes a competitor in a grueling battle for glory among three wizarding schools - the Triwizard Tournament. But since Harry never submitted his name for the Tournament, who did? Now Harry must confront a deadly dragon, fierce water demons and an enchanted maze only to find himself in the cruel grasp of He Who Must Not Be Named. In this fourth film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, everything changes as Harry, Ron and Hermione leave childhood forever and take on challenges greater than anything they could have imagined.

Box Office:
Budget
$140 million.
Opening Weekend
$102.335 million on 3858 screens.
Domestic Gross
$286.822 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 157 min.
Price: $30.98
Release Date: 3/7/2006

Bonus:
• “Triwizard Tournament” Games
• “Harry Vs. the Horntail: The First Task” Featurette
• “Meet the Champions” Featurette
• “In Too Deep: The Second Task” Featurette
• “To the Graveyard and Back” Challenge
• “The Maze: The Third Task” Featurette
• “He Who Must Not Be Named” Featurette
• Additional Scenes
• “Conversations with the Cast” Featurette
• “Preparing for the Yule Ball” Featurette
• “Reflections on the Fourth Film” Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire: Special Edition (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 21, 2006)

After three films, it looked like the Harry Potter series was running out of steam. Each one presented diminishing returns. They started with the $317 million of the first film, good for first place on 2001’s box office charts. From there the second release grabbed $261 million, which meant it was fourth on the 2002 list. Finally, the third effort dipped to $249 million and drooped to sixth place on its year’s charts.

Nearly $250 million is nothing to sneeze at, but the trend didn’t seem promising for the franchise. To the relief of all involved, 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire reversed this. Its $287 million gross wasn’t an astonishing improvement of its two immediate predecessors, but it seemed impressive given the downward slant of the series and it appeared to indicate Harry wasn’t dead yet.

Analysts discussed a number of possible reasons for the reversal of the trend, but there’s only one that I favor: it’s a pretty good movie. Probably the best of the series, actually, as Goblet offers the first Potter flick that I find to be truly satisfying.

Goblet picks up with Harry’s (Daniel Radcliffe) fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Before he gets there, though, he heads to the Quidditch World Cup with pals Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and his family. This offers some fun but goes downhall when Death Eaters – the minions of evil Lord Voldemort – appear on the scene.

This signals the apparent return of Harry’s old nemesis, and that theme haunts much of the story. However, that lurks in the background most of the time, as Goblet mainly focuses on the Twiwizard Tournament. This event brings representatives of two other schools to Hogwarts and plans to pit three young wizards in a dangerous competition. Various rules get stretched, however, when Harry’s name mysteriously pops up. Despite being underaged and a fourth wizard, the Goblet has the final word, so Harry becomes part of the contest.

Goblet follows Harry’s competition against schoolmate Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) as well as visitors Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy) and Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski). They face dragons, merpeople and a killer hedge maze as they try to win the contest. Harry also has to face his past when Voldemort reappears.

As one who never got into the Potter books, the films left me moderately cold. I thought they were reasonably entertaining, though I admit Azkaban made the material start to wear thin. They all began to seem an awful lot alike, and there wasn’t enough fresh material to sustain my interest.

While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Goblet finally manages to break through and present something different. Much of the reason for its success comes from its focus on story. During the first three movies, plot seemed inessential. Someone chased Harry and tried to kill him – the end. Those flicks appeared more concerned with the shenanigans behind the scenes at Hogwarts than they did the events connected to their plots. That emphasis made the movies meander and ramble without much purpose.

Goblet manages to give us more of those “life at Hogwarts” moments but they don’t dominate – or at least they don’t feel like they dominate. This comes as a surprise when you consider that director Mike Newell is new to the franchise and not someone who seems appropriate for a fantasy series. Newell is best known for quiet efforts like Mona Lisa Smile and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Donnie Brasco required a little more action than those, but Newell still seemed like an odd choice for the Potter series.

That makes it a surprise that he does so well. Perhaps his background in character pieces helps him. No one thinks of the Potter flicks as character-driven, but Newell shows a self-assured tone when it comes to the exposition and personalities of the participants. These elements blend together much better than in the past. We still get plenty of bits that don’t directly connect to the story – the extended Yule Ball sequence especially – but Newell manages to connect everything so well that it all feels like part of the plot.

It also helps that the story itself differs from the usual “someone’s trying to kill Harry” line. I suppose that’s still true deep down, since Voldemort remains below the surface, but the Triwizard Challenge creates a new framework for the action. This is a crucial difference, as it allows the story to breathe and prosper without the usual sense of “been there, done that”.

Finally, Radcliffe shows signs of being an actual actor. I thought he served as a void at the center of the first three movies, but here he displays real life and personality. Harry starts to come across as a true person, not just a sap without any vivacity. I finally began to care about the character, largely because Radcliffe finally began to show some talent.

Not all is perfect with Goblet. At more than two and a half hours, it’s still too long, and it goes off-story on occasion. Nonetheless, there’s much more here to like than to dislike. The film holds together well as it presents a surprisingly cohesive tale. The characters truly grow and become interesting for the first time, and it seems less bogged down in minutiae. Too bad Newell won’t sit behind the camera for 2007’s Order of the Phoenix, but hopefully David Yates will continue the series’ growth.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Virtually no problems marred this excellent transfer.

Sharpness appeared terrific. The movie consistently looked detailed and accurate. I noticed virtually no signs of softness during this distinct and well-defined movie. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and edge enhancement seemed absent. While the first two flicks were rather grainy, that wasn’t a problem here. From start to finish, Goblet looked clean and fresh.

None of the Potter films employed dizzying palettes, and that continued for Goblet. Hues remained subdued but accurate. The various colors came across as vivid and bold when necessary. The hues never showed any problems like noise or bleeding, as they stayed tight and clearly reproduced. Black levels looked particularly solid, as they portrayed deep tones, while shadow detail appeared quite smooth and appropriately visible. Low-light situations seemed neatly defined and suffered from no excessive opacity. Across the board, this was a pleasing image.

Goblet featured a very fine Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that really helped bring the action to life. Much of the track maintained a focus on the front, but within that spectrum, the audio seemed smooth and lively. Music presented good stereo imaging, while effects popped up in their appropriate locations and blended together cleanly. Elements moved from one channel to another in a natural manner.

At times, I thought the surround usage seemed little too reserved, but when the rear speakers really kicked into action, I better appreciated the mix. Quite a few sequences used the surrounds to great advantage. Most of these related to the various Triwizard Challenges as well as the Quidditch match at the start. During the action climax, the track also came to life intensely.

Audio quality appeared solid. Speech seemed natural and warm, and I detected no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. The score was clean and bright, with very solid delineation and definition. Effects presented excellent dynamics and clarity. Distortion created no problems even during the loudest parts, and highs appeared crisp and vibrant. Low-end response was nicely deep and tight, as bass elements really added to some of the more aggressive sequences. This mix held up well when compared to the other films and it brought out a lot of good material.

Unfortunately, Goblet continues the tradition of lackluster supplements for these flicks. All of this set’s extras show up on DVD Two. The components split into four areas. Under “Dragon Arena” we find three elements. Triwizard Tournament: Dragon Challenge offers a game that requires you to accomplish a few tasks. A surprisingly unforgiving contest, I must admit I didn’t have the patience to sift through all of these; the first one was such a pain that it turned me off on the others.

For some behind the scenes pieces, we go to Harry Vs. the Horntail: The First Task. This six-minute and three-second featurette looks at the creation of the scene in question. Like the other programs on this disc, we get movie clips, bits from the shoot, and interviews. Here we find notes from ILM visual effects supervisor Tim Alexander, visual effects producer Theresa R. Corrao, ILM CG modeling supervisor Ken Bryan, visual effects supervisor Jim Mitchell, ILM animation supervisor Steve Rawlins, producer David Heyman, director Mike Newell and actor Daniel Radcliffe. Basically “Task” looks at the design and creation of the horntail dragon as well as subjects connected to shooting these pieces. It offers a concise little view of the decisions and challenges related to the dragon scenes and it encapsulates the issues well.

Meet the Champions concludes the “Dragon Arena” components. A 12-minute and 58-second featurette, it follows a day in the life of these performers. We find notes from actors Stanislav Ianevski, Robert Pattinson and Clemence Poesy as we watch what they went through during the shoot. It provides a somewhat fluffy look at things, but it’s reasonably informative nonetheless.

Under the domain called “The Lake”, we discover two elements. We get another game: Triwizard Tournament: Lake Challenge. This one’s just as annoying as the one in the “Dragon” realm, so I skipped it. I really hate to pass by any components on DVDs, but these games just aren’t any fun for me and they’re too irritating for me to suffer through them.

Another featurette appears here as well. In Too Deep: The Second Task runs nine minutes, 45 seconds. We get notes from Heyman, Corrao, Mitchell, Radcliffe, Newell, Pattinson, second unit director/co-producer Peter MacDonald, executive producer David Barron, special effects supervisor John Richardson, diving coordinator Dave Shaw, director of photography Roger Pratt, and Framestore-CFC visual effects supervisor Tim Webber. “Deep” looks at the practical and visual effects challenges. We see the actual underwater dives along with added CG elements. As with the earlier piece, this one sums up its topics nicely and provides a tight examination of the various issues.

Inside “The Maze”, we get four pieces. Yes, there’s another Triwizard Tournament: Maze Challenge. Keep on going – I’m not trying to play through this chore either!

The To the Graveyard and Back Challenge follows in the footsteps of the other games. Actually, it starts out easy but then it gets into more annoying and frustrating arrow-pressing guessing elements. Not much fun to be found here.

For another featurette, we find The Maze: The Third Task. The piece lasts six minutes, 43 seconds and includes notes from Radcliffe, Pattinson, Newell, Ianevski, Richardson, Heyman, Corrao, Mitchell, Poesy, production designer Stuart Craig, MPC 2D supervisor Charley Henley, and MPC visual effects supervisor Ben Shepherd. It follows the expected subjects as it looks at sets, design and CG execution. Once again, the short offers a good feel for the appropriate topics and provides a fine examination of the material.

Lastly, He Who Must Not Be Named presents an 11-minute and four-second featurette. It features Heyman, Radcliffe, Newell, Corrao, Shepherd, costume designer Jany Temime, creature and makeup effects designer Nick Dudman, and actors Ralph Fiennes and Jason Isaacs. “Named” looks at the return of Lord Voldemort. We learn about Fiennes’ casting, character topics and his visual depiction, effects challenges, performances and the film’s darkness. Expect this piece to resemble the others as it provides a solid synopsis of the various subjects. It fleshes out things well and is quite useful.

Called “Hogwarts Castle”, the final area begins with eight Additional Scenes. These fill 10 minutes and three seconds. We find: a scene in which the Hogwarts kids welcome the representatives of the other schools, observations of these kids, Harry’s attempts to ask out Cho Chang, a rock band at the ball, Harry’s observation of some intrigue between Severus Snape and Igor Karkaroff, a warning from “Madeye” Moody to Harry, and some deliberations about the mystery among Harry, Hermione and Ron. The rock band sequence is easily the longest of the bunch, and the others tend to be pretty short. They add little but are moderately interesting to see.

Three featurettes follow. Preparing for the Yule Ball goes for eight minutes, 58 seconds. We find notes from Radcliffe, Poesy, Barron, Heyman, Newell, Temime, Pattinson, Craig, and actors Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Oliver and James Phelps, Alfie Enoch, Katie Leung, Matthew Lewis, and Tom Felton. They discuss dancing lessons and shooting those parts, formal costumes, and set design. This piece seems rather fluffy, but it still conveys enough good information to make it worthwhile.

Next comes the 30-minute and 25-second Conversations with the Cast. It features Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint as they chat with host Richard Curtis. They chat about their reactions to the final film, daily life making the flick, working with Newell, character growth and their interactions, thoughts on the other actors and info about experiences that came to them through their fame. Five contest winners also get to ask some questions. As with “Yule”, this one doesn’t dig into things with much depth, as it stays pretty superficial. Nonetheless, it lets the actors offer some interesting viewpoints on things.

Called Reflections on the Fourth Film, the final featurette runs 14 minutes, seven seconds. It includes notes from Radcliffe, Grint, Watson, Lewis, Felton, Enoch, Leung, Poesy, Pattinson, Oliver and James Phelps, Ianevski, and actors Devon Murray, Josh Herdman, Jamie Waylett and Bonnie Wright. They yak about changes in the films over the years, working with each other, the new actors, and Newell, and various anecdotes from the shoot. “Reflections” fits with its two predecessors as it remains pretty puffy. It’s moderately informative and not tremendously interesting, though the shots from the set help.

“Hogwarts Castle” ends with the film’s trailer. The disc opens with some Previews. We get ads for The Ant Bully and Happy Feet.

The best of the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the first one to make me interested to see what happens next. It’s still too long and meanders a bit too much, but it offers better focus and greater drama. The DVD presents excellent picture and sound but lacks substantial supplements. Though the continued absence of quality extras remains a disappointment, there’s a lot to like about this interesting movie and good DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1272 Stars Number of Votes: 55
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