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Toon Talk - From the Other Side: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
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A Review by Kirby C. Holt
(c) Warner Bros.
At one point early in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, our young hero proclaims, "I love magic!â€? If the voluminous numbers of book readers and film audiences from around the globe are adequate proof, then a lot of people out there agree with Harry.
Author J.K. Rowling's sorcery saga, which will span seven volumes when all is said and done, has had a fitful transition to the silver screen. The first film, 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (or The Philosopher's Stone outside the U.S.), directed by Chris Columbus, brought the world of Hogwarts to life in a wide-eyed fashion, brimming with possibilities. Columbus returned for The Chamber of Secrets (2002), a disjointed affair that had its moments, but ultimately fumbled the promise of the first film. Potter fans did not seem to mind too much though, as the first two films were slavishly faithful to the source materials.
Alfonso Cuaron, whose credits include such diverse entries as the enchanting A Little Princess (1995) and the sexually candid Y tu mama tambien (2001), took over for the third installment, The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), a stylish gothic that breathed new cinematic life into the story, consequently alienating most Potter purists with some drastic (although necessary) overhauls and omissions. (Conversely, most people (myself included) that have not read the books rank Azkaban the best of the films, a sharp contrast to the franchise's literary legions who rank it the worst.)
Although nothing in his filmography (Enchanted April? Four Weddings and a Funeral? Mona Lisa Smile???) would suggest he had a fantasy epic in him, Mike Newell is the latest filmmaker (and the first Englishman) to helm the series. This far into the game, it has become apparent that the Potter films succeed or fail on the strengths of the director, and, with his lack of clear visual style and inability to control the chaos that is Rowling's increasingly unwieldy mythology, Newell delivers a lackluster, hopelessly muddled behemoth of an entry that labors to entrance, but merely under whelms.