Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I, like many of you, I expect, have been waiting for this film for months. I deliberately didn't read any reviews before I went, afraid that it would influence my opinion. I couldn't help hearing, though, that reviews had been mixed, so I tried not to expect too much.
The basic plot, for those of you who haven't read the book, is that boy wizard Harry Potter returns to his school of magic, Hogwarts, where a magical tournament is taking place between Hogwarts and two other schools. One representative from each is taking part. Harry, however, is mysteriously selected, despite being too young and not actually putting his name forward. He struggles through three magical tasks, only to find that he has been tricked and now has to face Lord Voldemort, the evil wizard who killed his parents.
I wasn't disappointed by the film. New director Mike Newell has done pretty much as good an adaptation of the JK Rowling novel as can be expected. Of course, there were discussions early on that the length of the book would require it to be split into two films (it's just one, though it is long), but while everything essential is present, some things have inevitably been jettisoned to make room. Gone, therefore, are Hermione's subplot trying to encourage house-elf freedom, and the Dursleys are also gone. We don't see much of the Quidditch World Cup and, disappointingly, no actual Quidditch.
The film also introduces quite a few new characters (all of whom are good, though Mad-eye Moody's magical eye looks comical rather than creepy), but this means that several of the regulars, particularly Snape and Malfoy, are left with
little to do. In fact, most of the new characters, especially Fleur and Cho, have few lines. Established character Hermione also comes across on a few occasions as being almost as insufferable as she was in the early parts of the first film and book.
There were also many good points. The Yule Ball scene, for instance, was beautifully done, and the dancing lesson beforehand is quite amusing! Harry's graveyard confrontation with Voldemort was excellent (Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort was very good) though I did feel that several parts of it were not adequately explained for newcomers to the series. The acting all around was perfectly adequate, but I particularly liked Miranda Richardson as journalist Rita Skeeter.
A final point: we have been hearing ad nauseum about how much darker this film is than the previous films in the series. It is darker, and I certainly wouldn't recommend taking young children. On the other hand, the young girl sitting near me was heard to say a few things which made me laugh (the funniest being 'Is that Harry?' when looking at the muggle Frank, who is about 70) and didn't seem to be particularly frightened.
Overall, I would certainly recommend this. It just about ties Prisoner of Azkaban as my favourite Potter film.