Dirtier Harry

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Rated 4.0

Entering his fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Radcliffe) and pals Hermione (Watson) and Ron (Grint) are growing a little long in the tooth now (CGI was supposedly utilized to dismiss age-inappropriate facial blemishes), but are still up for the challenge of presenting the best entry in the series. Last seen at about the time he was, um … practicing with his wand under cover of his sheets late at night, the new semester finds Harry discovering the true power of his magic stick as he enters adolescence and fresh new flesh drops by the school for a visit. Meanwhile, his name is drawn to compete—despite a seeming bending of the rules—in the deadly serious TriWizard Tournament, an X-treme magic duel between rival schools. And an old nemesis seems to be at work, as nefarious plans are plotted …

With a very British director at the helm of a very British franchise for the first time, Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) crafts this entry as the darkest and most accomplished of the series (earning it a PG-13), whittling down a literal tome to a near-three hour movie. While the script is still densely plotted, adherents of the books will most likely be disappointed that liberties have been taken with the source material as certain set pieces have been omitted out of necessity’s sake (although within the context) so that the narrative maintains an evenly paced rhythm, allowing even nonreaders of Rowling’s mythos to enjoy the experience. The framework allows the actors to take a breather from spewing nonstop exposition, and affords them the opportunity to explore their characters to a degree not convenient in the previous movies.

While due to pop culture osmosis one needn’t really have seen the first two episodes, it is recommended that one have seen the third movie, Prisoner of Azkaban in order to smooth the transition of viewing Goblet of Fire. And yes, with the first PG-13 rating of the series, parental discretion is well-advised when considering whether their toddler is ready to be exposed to the dark times that lie ahead.