Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Year: 2005
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: J K Rowling/Steve Kloves
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Katie Leung, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Isaacs, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Brendan Gleeson, Miranda Richardson, Gary Oldman
Harry Potter is a lot like Generation Y's very own Star Wars. As an entertainment property, those two little words come with staggering brand recognition, and kids from Tokyo to Tehran and Moscow to Melbourne dress up in Dumbledore robes and McGonigal hats like their parents did as jawas and Darth Vader.

What's more, the merchandise license fees are making Warner Brothers as rich as the box office receipts. Shops are awash with everything from socks to hamburgers emblazoned with Harry and his friends and enemies, like they used to be with C3PO and R2D2 shampoo.

And, like the Star Wars films, Harry Potter captures a much stronger zeitgeist than the movies possibly warrant. They're not the only big budget special effects movies around at the moment (Star Wars was, and 30 midyear blockbuster event movies wouldn't exist without it).

Harry Potter films aren't much better written than most mainstream studio product, and apart from the cream of England's dramatic talent in the background, the acting's only as good as Hayden Christensen's splutter-worthy dummy spits ('It's all Obi Wan's fault, he's holding me back'). And everything ties up very sweetly and neatly like all good packaged cinema should.

But they certainly have something that brings punters in, and nothing any review says will stop Warner Brothers cleaning up across the globe this Christmas.

The one thing to keep in mind about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is that - like it's predecessors - it's essentially a kids' movie. Sure, it's darker, scarier and more violent than the other three, but so was Revenge of the Sith and nobody ran in terror from the theatre during that either.

Ironically The first Harry Potter film directed by an Englishmen, The Goblet of Fire is set at the time of the grand Tri-wizard tournament, which brings two guest schools to Hogwarts to compete for what Dumbledore calls 'eternal glory' by bringing home the cup. Only one student from each school can enter, and they nominate themselves by putting their names in the titular goblet, which picks the best candidate.

Hogwarts representative is chosen, but to everyone's surprise, the goblet spits out Harry's name too, and even though he's too young to compete, nobody can argue with the magic cup.

So he joins the three others in three increasingly dangerous tasks, and all the while there's something strange going on in the background. Someone's giving Harry help on the side. Is it one of his usual teachers, Dumbledore himself, or the mysterious new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher?

It soon become obvious the Tri-wizard tournament is stacked in Harry's favour, and there's a very good reason for him getting his hands on the trophy - after the grueling tests of the tournament, he'll be delivered into the hands of his most feared enemy.

If you haven't seen any other Harry Potter films or read any of the books, there's a lot of assumed knowledge you'll miss out on. But (contrary to what some critics in the US have already said), you won't miss too much - there's not too much plot to distract you from the spectacle and the effects. The producers know very well your 10 year old niece has to get it as easily as you do.

Now the richest teenager in the UK, Radcliffe will never win an Oscar for his performance, but Newell does a good job of jamming at least seven major characters in and still keeping the focus on the hero. There was talk of making two films out of JK Rowling's fourth-in-the-series doorstop, but Newell and his screenwriter have trimmed a lot of the subplots.

If you don't get anything out of kids movies, it'll feel overlong, and without all the marketing by association, it's nothing you haven't seen at the movies before.

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