The fourth film in the Harry Potter series, it’s two and a half hours long and that’s after cutting out a huge chunk of the book (sadly, that includes the opening Quidditch World Cup final). Adapting this hefty tome, probably the best of the series, to film format was clearly not an easy task. However, easy or not, the final result still needs to be convincing.
Plenty of British celebs as usual, some famous for decades, some relatively new. OK, let’s bite the bullet: among the minor roles there’s David Tennant (FX: FANGIRL SCREAMS), suitably psychotic as Barty Crouch Jr., and future sparkly vampire Robert Pattinson (FX: MORE FANGIRL SCREAMS) as the handsome, if thick-as-mince Cedric Diggory. Actually, there are quite a few pleasant surprises, including the excellent casting of Brendan Gleeson as ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody, and Miranda Richardson as the infuriating Rita Skeeter…
Ooh, Clémence Poésy as Fleur Delacour. Now if only they’d managed to fit Colin Farrell in as well, we’d have had all four main actors from In Bruges.
Anyway, apart from a distinct feeling of something missing when the film cuts from the arrival of the Quidditch teams on the pitch for the World Cup to the Weasleys celebrating Ireland’s victory in their tent afterwards (the game takes up a large part of the first half of the book, but doesn’t actually contain much that’s germane to future plot development), it’s not to hard to follow the story if you haven’t read the book. I know this because my younger daughter gave up halfway through the fourth book, on the basis that life is short and she had exams to pass, and she had no trouble following the plot.
However, without good actors doing a good job, all the scripting and directing would be wasted, and there’s not a genuinely bad performance in there, including from those who aren’t professional actors, nor even native English speakers. Well, bad compared to some of the acting in previous films, because not all the young actors have any genuine dramatic ability. Michael Gambon even very nearly manages to carry off that horribly embarrassing, sentimental eulogy at the end (uncuttable, unfortunately, as it contains plot elements), the other regulars are equally up to scratch, Brendan Gleeson is magnificent as the (fake) Mad-Eye Moody, and Ralph Fiennes clearly has a rare time as the newly re-embodied Lord Voldemort.
All good fun, nice’n’scary for the kids, and by now some of them may be old enough to watch some of the main actors’ other work (e.g. Sleepy Hollow, Billy Elliott), which is always something to be encouraged.
Along with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s the Harry Potter film my family most enjoys rewatching. Recommended.