Big question: The first three Harry Potter movies made me feel like quite the Muggle. Slow, unexciting and frayed, they were novels haphazardly heaved onto a screen without focus. Can director Mike Newell turn Potter's participation in the Triwizard Tournament--and the young wizards' adjustments to puberty--into a coherent effort that works not merely as a book but as, you know, a film?
Catch it: By a landslide, this is the most magical Potter film yet--visually, emotionally, and structurally satisfying in ways that previous directors Chris Columbus and Alfonso Cuaron never dreamed of. Full of thrilling action sequences and loads of giggle-worthy teenage awkwardness, "Goblet of Fire" doesn't just cast a spell. It transforms the entire series.
Skip it if: You're unsettled by the idea of 17-year-old boys dating 14-year-old girls (as happens twice here). And if you're not, well, you should be.
Bottom Line: With loads of personality, attitude and feistiness (sound like any teenagers you know?), "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" might be the best time you have at the movies all year.
Bonus: Harry, Ron and the rest of the Hogwarts students ogling the French babes that comprise one of the competing schools in the tournament. Same for the Hogwarts ladies' jaws dropping for the team of Eastern European studs, proving that even masters of magic have hormones.
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
Directed by Mike Newell; written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling; photographed by Roger Pratt; edited by Mick Audsley; production designed by Stuart Craig; music by Patrick Doyle; produced by David Heyman. A Warner Bros. release of a Heyday Films production; opens 12:01 a.m. Friday. Running time: 2:37. MPAA rating: PG-13. (for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening imagery).
Harry Potter - Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley - Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger - Emma Watson
Rubeus Hagrid - Robbie Coltrane
Lord Voldemort - Ralph Fiennes
Albus Dumbledore - Michael Gambon
Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody - Brendan Gleeson
Rita Skeeter - Miranda Richardson
Minerva McGonagall - Maggie SmithCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times