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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Ultimate Edition DVD Review

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie poster Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Theatrical Release: November 18, 2005 / Running Time: 157 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Mike Newell / Writers: J.K. Rowling (novel), Steve Kloves (screenplay)

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort), Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Brendan Gleeson (Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Miranda Richardson (Rita Skeeter), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Timothy Spall (Wormtail), Frances de la Tour (Madame Olympe Maxime), Pedja Bjelac (Igor Karkaroff), David Bradley (Argus Filch), Warwick Davis (Filius Flitwick), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Robert Hardy (Cornelius Fudge), Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle), Roger Lloyd Pack (Barty Crouch), Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley), Stanislav Ianevski (Viktor Krum), Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory), Clιmence Poιsy (Fleur Delacour), David Tennant (Barty Crouch Junior), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley), Katie Leung (Cho Chang), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Devon Murray (Seamus Finnigan), Jamie Waylett (Vincent Crabbe), Josh Herdman (Gregory Goyle), Afshan Azad (Padma Patil), Shefali Chowdhury (Parvati Patil), Angelica Mandy (Gabrielle Delacour), Eric Sykes (Frank Bryce), Jeff Rawle (Amos Diggory), Adrian Rawlins (James Potter), Geraldine Somerville (Lily Potter), Jarvis Cocker (Band Lead Singer)

Buy Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire from Amazon.com: Ultimate Edition DVD • Ultimate Edition Blu-ray
1-Disc Widescreen DVD • 1-Disc Full Screen DVD • Individual Blu-ray • Two-Disc Special Edition DVD (out of print)

Karkaroff (Pedja Bjelac) and Snape (Alan Rickman) have a chat as snow falls outside of the Yule Ball in this deleted scene. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and their fellow young lead Rupert Grint answer the questions of contest winners and acclaimed British comedy writer/director Richard Curtis in "Conversations with the Cast."

The rest of the disc's bonuses lie in Hogwarts Castle.

A 10-minute reel of Additional Scenes provides a number of interesting but disposable cut moments, including Dumbledore leading the Hogwarts students in a welcoming song, more of boys asking girls (or not) to the Yule Ball,
a full performance by The Weird Sisters (with an awkward, legally-obligated avoidance of saying the band's name), an exchange between the ambiguous Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and the Bulgarian highmaster Igor Karkaroff (Pedja Bjelac), and a couple of unseen talks among our three leading friends.

"Preparing for the Yule Ball" (9:00) addresses the substantial sequence in terms of cast dance lessons, costumes, and the facility production design.

The disc's longest and probably best feature, "Conversations with the Cast" (30:30), lets writer/director Richard Curtis (Love Actually) talk with actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson. It's comparable to the series' other actor Q & A sessions, but more substantial as it considers the series' progress, co-stars, aspects specific to Goblet of Fire, and whose houses they'd like Portkey to. Curtis brings a thoughtful filmmaker's perspective to it, but keeps the chat accessible. In the final ten minutes, the group is joined by five contest winners from around the globe, each allowed to ask one question of the actors.

The entertaining Weasley twin actors Oliver and James Phelps are among the young cast members sharing their "Reflections on the Fourth Film." In a rare case of DVD-ROM value, the interactive Hogwarts Timeline still dates and recalls events from Harry's first four years.

"Reflections on the Fourth Film" (14:10) gathers grounded comments from practically every young actor with a speaking part. That lets the production experience get shared from veteran and newcomer perspectives alike on everything from the camaraderie to unsung parts of filmmaking they admire.

The section closes with a Goblet of Fire theatrical trailer (1:18) that reappears on Disc 3 more accurately identified as a teaser.

Confirming that a new label has been placed on an old disc, Disc 2 opens with trailers for Warner's long forgotten CGI comedy The Ant Bully (complete with Harry Potter nod) and the Oscar-robbing Happy Feet.

Disc 2 also contains some DVD-ROM features that I was miraculously able to access through the notorious Interactual Player. After installing Shockwave, I could enjoy an interactive Hogwarts Timeline. Clicking text has it read, clicking pictures opens a small QuickTime video clip from the movies. It's not these media but the dated information itself spanning the school's history and the events of the first four films (several pages for each year) that sustain interest.

The "Magical Trading Cards" were inaccessible on account of broken link. Promising a level from the latest Harry Potter video game, the "EA Videogame Demo" didn't appear to fail, but it never did anything either. With those game demos, though, installation sometimes seems to be more effort than it's worth.

You can't spend an hour on Harry Potter music without hearing from this man, legendary film score composer John Williams. Host Ben Shephard takes us to the blue screen set where Harry asks Cho Chang to the Yule Ball in "Harry Potter: Behind the Magic."

The centerpiece of Disc 3 is "Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 4: Sound and Music" (54:07), the most recent installment of the Ultimate Editions' epic 8-part overview of the series. Despite having enjoyed Part 3, I entered with skepticism that sound and music could sustain a piece of this length and it's more of a challenge but one that is met. Looking at the first six films, the documentary considers specific music themes and the sounds of key sequences. In new and archived interviews, we hear from dozens of cast and crew members, although understandably the series' three composers and various sound engineers do the bulk of talking. They have plenty worth sharing, from influences to intentions, from instruments to foley work props.

Five vintage television specials follow, in this case "vintage" meaning about five years old.

The 16:9-enhanced "Harry Potter: Behind the Magic" (48:45) offers an extended British making-of entirely on Goblet of Fire. It supplies loads of production footage, cast and crew comments, and some goofy antics by host Ben Shephard. Major attention is paid to big sequences like the Yule Ball and the water tank work for the lake challenge.

Director Mike Newell looks at playback with a group of Hogwarts students in Inside Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." In costume minus the glasses, cast newcomer Miranda Richardson talks about her yellow journalist Rita Skeeter in the promotional TV special "The Adventure Continues." British presenter Ben Shephard has reason to hold up an owl who plays Hedwig; he's hosting "Harry Potter: Some Animal Magic."

A&E's "Inside Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (43:45) briefly looks back at the first three films before devoting most of its hour of airtime to the fourth movie. It addresses the big set pieces, new characters, and changing tones with clips, B-roll, and countless cast/crew interview snippets.

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Adventure Continues" (24:09) covers the new characters and actors, new director, and the really big set pieces.
It pulls its interviews from the same pool as the others and doesn't feel significantly better or worse than the previous piece, despite running half as long.

"Harry Potter: Some Animal Magic" (23:22) brings back host Ben Shephard (and 16:9 picture) to focus entirely on the creatures who play the animal characters and the trainers who work with them. In addition to segments devoted to owls, crows, dogs, cats, ferrets, we get some words from Daniel Radcliffe and his co-stars on their experiences. It's a fun and revealing program that won't be confused with any of the others.

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Dark Matters, New Masters" (13:00) is basically an abridged version of one of the first three specials, reusing interview sound bites, clips, and behind-the-scenes footage. I guess if you've got just fifteen minutes for a making-of featurette, this is for you.

The disc's final listing is "Trailers", of which there are five. Goblet of Fire's teaser (1:22) and trailer (2:21) are accompanied by newer ads for iPhone app Harry Potter Spells (0:43) and the books Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book (1:48) and Harry Potter: Film Wizardry (2:30).

Bulgarian Quidditch star Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) gets his due on the Disc 1 main menu. Disc 2's main menu offers an impressive, fluidly-traversed CGI rendering of the film's Triwizard Tournament settings.

MENUS and PACKAGING

Disc 1's main menu follows Hedwig flying into Hogwarts before settling on a screen of clips next to the Goblet of Fire, which is employed for the inspired screen transitions. The static submenus are also scored. Offered in English and French, Disc 2's fitting menus take us around CGI recreations of the film's settings. The narrated DVD-ROM menu is set in the Prefects' bathroom. The newest menus, those of the all-new Disc 3, are also the most boring, taking Warner's present static, silent approach.

As with Warner's other Ultimate Editions, the fun does not end there. The substantial lenticular-fronted packaging holds several things inside its sturdy, stylish book-like inner box.

Warner's beauty shot of the contents of the Goblet of Fire Ultimate Edition: Ron and Mad-Eye Moody character cards, cover lenticular, hardcover sound & music book, and three discs.

Inside a purple cardboard envelope are the set's two character cards: Ron Weasley (#7) and, appropriately, Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (#8). As usual, they are nice, but not much to see: a greyscale publicity photo on front, a fact on back.
I'd like to think that when the set of 16 is complete, the pictures come alive for some fun, but I just don't know if that will happen.

Next comes the fine hardcover book Creating the Sound & Music of Harry Potter, tying into the Disc 3 documentary. A picture book on sound and music isn't the most sensible alignment of media, but this takes care of that by complementing its Year 4-dominated film stills with many quotes and informative text. Naturally, many of the quotes are remarks heard in the documentary by composer John Williams and his successors Patrick Doyle and Nicholas Hooper. The information deals more with the creation of sounds. As far as photo-heavy books go, it's a quality read.

The three discs themselves are held in an eight-sided Digipak that provides an overview of bonus features, paying most attention to the "Creating the World of Harry Potter" installment. Loose inserts advertise Potter movie books and supply your unique authorization code for downloading and activating an iTunes or Windows Media digital copy of the film. Like most digital copies, the code expires a year from release date, so you've only got eleven months left now!

Twin sisters Parvati (Shefali Chowdhury) and Padma Patil (Afshan Azad) are not treated to a good time at the Yule Ball by their dates Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The weakest Harry Potter film still has more going for it than the majority of modern cinema. As one of the series' stronger installments, Goblet of Fire has rare entertainment value and almost universal appeal. It's easy to understate the merits of this franchise because a single taste may be sufficient to decide that you want to see it all or that you've gotten the gist and had enough.
But it is remarkable how, perhaps a reflection of the books, efforts haven't wavered. Every chapter brings strong characters, rich themes, and investable situations. Goblet runs a wider gamut than others; it is exciting one moment, delightfully silly the next, and downright disturbing near its end. In all three modes, it is more entertaining and compelling than nearly all of its contemporaries.

Four movies in, you should have a good idea of what to expect from Warner's Ultimate Editions. These are some pretty dandy sets that shouldn't leave many fans disappointed. That said, fans interested in bonus features probably already own the now out-of-print Two-Disc Special Edition DVD. The gains over that -- a new documentary, nearly three hours of TV specials, a book, character cards, a digital copy download code, and snazzier packaging -- are significant, but significant enough to call for a $30 second purchase depends on the collector in you. I'd be surprised if these were the absolute Ultimate Editions in every sense of the word "Ultimate", but every one of them is about as thorough a release as you'll find for any movie.

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Reviewed November 19, 2010.



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