This time around, the dashing trio of Harry, Hermione and Ron are joined by more great British actors: Michael Gambon (replacing the late Richard Harris), Gary Oldman, David Thewlis and Emma Thompson for a darker tale as director Alfonso Cuaron (Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN) takes over from Chris Columbus, who directed the first two. The difference is noticeable as the film almost can stand on its own with fine performances and unique and arresting visuals. This episode is by far my favorite in the series so far, as it builds upon what has come before and sets things up for future adventures. There is a cool time-travel plot that is pretty awesome and great turns by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as our three leads. At 142 minutes, surprisingly this one does not drag.
Next up is HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (disjointedly directed by Mike Newell), which almost can be called HARRY POTTER JUMPS THE SHARK. This one starts off badly with an ultra-cheesy Quidditch World Cup sequence - followed by the torturous Triwizard Tournament which introduces us to handsome TWILIGHT actor Robert Pattison as Cedric Diggory and super sexy Quidditch champ Viktor Krum (played by newcomer Stanislav Ianevski).
You see, Harry is chosen by the Golbet of Fire to complete with wizards from two other schools in deadly stunts that endanger not only his life but the lives of his friends as well. Cedric is already representing Hogwarts, so Harry is kinda a fourth wheel. Things get worse when Hogwarts goes all DEGRASSI for an embarrassing subplot about the school dance which includes a jarring music performance that reminds me of the awful Prince music in the first BATMAN film. The only thing that saves this sequence is the beautiful Christmas decorations. In fact I should probably point out that each of the first four films has a chunk that takes places at Christmas proving that wizardry is secular. Things improve later on in the tournament when the enemies are revealed and Ralph Fiennes shows up as the dreaded Lord Voldemort. Also joining the fray this time out is Miranda Richardson in an entertaining comic role. I have to say this edition was pretty tough going and my least favorite in the series so far. Let's hope things improve with the next chapter.