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I have never been a big fan of the Harry Potter movies. I haven't read the books so i can't tell really if my lack of interest stems from the original books or the movie adaptations. I have always found the movies to be quite watered down, with roots of very interesting and challenging elements that somehow are never quite realized right. Especially with the second and third installments, there were times where i was really hoping for something to develop into more interesting material, but ended up being ultimately disappointed. You see, i believe in scary and more mature stories for kids. I always wonder if we are ever going to have another Bambi (1942) or Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937), stories that challenge kids emotionally and doesn't take them for idiots, stories that are a little bit off center. Most kids programming these days are quite unchallenging in that respect.
With The Goblet Of Fire (2005), the series suddenly changed. It took a different route for its storytelling and hope is in the air once again. For over 2h30mn, i found myself amazed, enchanted, and filled with tension. I wish it had lasted another 30mn as it did feel rushed sometimes. The subject matter is darker than in the other episodes, or rather, it's treated with a much more explicit viewpoint, maybe to reflect Harry's own evolving maturity. He's a teenager now, not a kid anymore. The movie is all the more successful as it manages to really show and expose dark things while retaining a childish sense of wonderment i found fantastic. The writing has finally caught up with the emotional potential of a story dealing with a young teenage wizard whose parents were murdered by a demon Lord who, after all these years, is still out there with nothing else in his mind but the destruction of the last survivor of the Potter family.
Visually, the film has also made a quantum leap over the previous installments. The character designs are very creative. Lord Voldemort was particularly scary and intriguing, even for me. The settings are lush and grand in scale. Overall, the imageries are stunning and flawless. The entire movie is very well filmed and well edited and is filled with memorable scenes (the dragon fight, the fight between Voldemort and Harry, and Lake scene...). The performances are as usual, pretty good, and only seem better, in my opinion, because of the more insightful writing.
Watching this film was a pleasure of pure entertainment that, for once, wasn't watered down. It was refreshing in how it chose to deal with important and challenging matters in the story line. I do not think it really deserved a PG-13 rating, but it felt very close and i understand why it was rated so. The studios should be applauded for having taken the risks, and if the Box Office numbers are any indication, the public received it very well. It probably signals that the original Potter audience from the books (which was huge) has grown up also. They spent $290M in ticket sales. That's second only for the first film which made $318M back in 2001 when it was released. My 6 year old son loved it and yelled when the credits rolled: "This one was so much more better. I wasn't bored like with the others". That's from the man himself. He and i are definitely waiting for the next one and will go see it in the theaters if it is rated PG-13 again.
- Laurent Hasson