For my money, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE is the best book (so far) in the series about the boy wizard. As for the movie version of the book, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE is wonderfully cinematic, thanks to the efforts of director Mike Newell and is pretty much the best movie in the series (so far). Director Newell really does a marvelous job with the material, not only visually, but also by not pulling any punches on the darkest aspects of the storyline, not to mention he is quite adapt in bringing out the emotional complexities of the now teenage leading characters.
As someone who read the book, I have to admit that HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE was a tremendous tome that needed to be whittled down to the barest essentials of the story to make it work as a movie, instead of a ten-hour miniseries. That being said, the film still runs nearly two and a half hours. Despite the length, things do seem a bit rushed in places and the story advances with something of an abrupt quality. Out of necessity, subplots from the book are jettisoned; some of the supporting characters become two dimensional, and occasionally, the story feels somewhat over-compressed. Still, the movie itself offers fans a heck of a wild ride and is visually captivating. I myself totally enjoyed the movie version of HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, but will be going back to read the book again to revisit those portions that did not make it up on the screen.
The plot of HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE finds Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) in his fourth year at Hogwarts’ School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry, along with best friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). This year, Hogwarts will be hosting The Triwizard Tournament, which brings students from two other magical schools to Hogwarts for a decidedly dangerous magical competition. With only a single champion to represent each school, the selection process goes as expected, with only students of certain more mature age being allowed to submit their names into the Goblet of Fire.
However, things take an unexpected turn when the Goblet of Fire spits out a fourth name- an underage Harry Potter. Although he did not enter the competition, Harry finds himself an unwilling participant The Triwizard Tournament and facing the potentially lethal challenges awaiting the competitors, not to mention being ostracized by his peers at Hogwarts, who think he cheated his way into the contest. The marvelous cast of HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE also features also features Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, Miranda Richardson, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Robert Pattinson, Matthew Lewis, Stanislav Ianevski, Katie Leung, Frances de la Tour, Clémence Poésy, Shirley Henderson, Timothy Spall and David Tennant.
Warner Home Video has made HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Not surprisingly, Warner delivers another terrific transfer. While much of the film is quite dark, but everything appears sharp and well defined. Colors are strongly rendered, without flaws or noise, plus the flesh tones are always appealing. Blacks are inky, white are crisp and stable, plus the picture produces fairly smooth contrast and good shadow detail. The film elements from which HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE have been transferred are free of flaws. A grain structure is noticeable in the darker sequences, but it never becomes excessive. Digital compression artifacts are always nicely contained.
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE features a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Surround usage is generally good, with the rears always providing a nice sense of acoustic space, along with well-deployed active effects. The sound mix proves quite engaging during the action sequences, but is decidedly more subdued during the talky portions of the film. Fidelity is top notch, with the musical component having an effortless quality and the sound effects coming across in a highly convincing manner. As for the bass channel, it is deep and provides all the rumble that the material requires. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. A Spanish 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been relegated to disc two of this set. The supplements have been broken up into sections entitled: Dragon Arena, The Lake, The Maze and Hogwarts Castle. Like the preceding Harry Potter DVDs, much of the content is skewed towards the younger fans, although there is some meat for the older fans to chew on. Dragon Arena contains Harry Vs. the Horntail: The First Task, which offers a look at the creation of that rather impressive action sequence, along with Meet The Champions, which features interviews with the young actors portraying the competitors in The Triwizard Tournament. An interactive game, Triwizard Tournament: Dragon Challenge closes out the Dragon Arena section.
The Lake features In Too Deep: The Second Task, which looks at the how this aquatic sequence was undertaken. An interactive game, Triwizard Tournament: Lake Challenge closes out the The Lake section. The Maze includes The Maze: The Third Task examines how this final challenge sequence is brought to life, while He Who Must Not Be Named looks at the reemergence of Harry’s arch nemesis. Two interactive games, Triwizard Tournament: Maze Challenge and To The Graveyard And Back Challenge close out the The Maze section. Hogwarts Castle offers about ten minutes of Additional Scenes that were lost to the cutting room floor; Preparing For The Yule Ball, a look at the film’s most elegant set piece; Conversations With The Cast is a half hour question and answer session with the young stars; Reflections On The Fourth Film looks back on the latest installment and beyond. A Theatrical Trailer and bonus trailers close out the supplements.
As I stated above, I think that HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE is not only the best book in the J.K. Rowling series; it is also the best film in the Warner Bros. motion picture series. Warner’s DVD looks and sounds terrific, so one isn’t going to be disappointed on that front. If you are a fan HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE is another must have DVD. Very highly recommended.
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