There’s a new Harry Potter in town, and he’s more compelling (and perhaps controversial) than any of his earlier big-screen incarnations. No longer an awkward boy, Harry is in the process of becoming an awkward adolescent, and those youngsters who’ve grown up right along with him will find much to connect with beyond spells and sorcery.
For the first time in the boy-wizard franchise, a Brit (Mike Newell of Four Weddings and a Funeral) takes the helm, and his shared background with Potter author J.K. Rowling adds a special, English kind of originality to the material.
We rejoin Harry, now 14 and in his fourth year at Hogwarts, at the Quidditch World Cup. From the opening credits, Newell immerses the audience in an atmosphere of wonder that was never quite achieved in the previous films. In his hands, something as familiar as an athletic stadium becomes the source of amazement as the players take the field in blasts of glittering bravado. By the time Lord Voldemort’s henchmen, the “Death Eaters,” arrive and run the medieval-style tail-gate party off the grounds like a marauding bunch of magical Huns, we are already completely entranced by the world of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Once he’s safely back at school, Harry’s nightmares continue to connect him to the Death-Eater invasion. But before he has time to ponder what his dreams mean, Headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) announces that Hogwarts, along with two other magic academies, will compete in the historic Triwizard Tournament - a sort of magical triathlon in which a single challenger from each school will compete in a series of tasks designed to test their wizardly skills. Thus, the arrival of the lovely French sorceresses from one prep school and strapping Eastern-European athletes from another distracts both us and Harry from more menacing goings-on.
That is until the titular goblet of fire tasked with selecting the three wizard contestants spits out four names instead of three. Though according to the official Triwizard handbook rules Harry is too young to participate by three years, the goblet insists he is to act as Hogwart’s champion.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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