Granted, there’s not a huge reason to review this film. It’s the fourth in a fantastic series; if you’re reading this, there’s little chance you’re going to miss it. Because that would be stupid. So I’ll just provide some supplemental material to make you a more informed viewer.
First, Alfonso Cuaron gets the gas face. This bastard (who directed Prisoner of Azkaban) convinced Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell to NOT do a Kill Bill and create two movies from the book, released a few months apart. That was the original, glorious plan. While the movie is great as is, it does a major hatchet job on the plot in the book. As a result, many subplots and nuances are removed; the Dursleys and Molly and Percy Weasley don’t even show up. This is a sad way to treat a great book. To those who were planning on watching the movie and skipping the book to get onto the others, that’s no longer an option. You would be doing yourself a huge disservice, not to mention making books 5 and 6 a bit harder to understand.
And as Agent Assassin asked, didn’t the producers want to make twice as much money? You’d think with an extra $300M+ at stake, they could have paid off Cuaron to convince Newell to do the extra movie. Or just paid Newell extra to do it (he only got $1M, vs. $10M + percentage of gross for Sorcerer’s Stone director Chris Columbus).
Speaking of Cuaron, he declined directing Goblet of Fire because he said he’d still be working on Prisoner of Azkaban. This answers the question of how they’re getting them out so quickly (one every 1.5 years) – overlapping production. Must be quite the marathon for the actors.
Speaking of actors, Emma Watson is definitely coming of age. As Ms. Watson is (ahem) a few years my junior, I thought my mind should perhaps not be wandering in that direction. Then I found out every other guy thinks she’s hot, so it’s ok. Heck, Ebert called it when she was 12, in his Chamber of Secrets review. There are, in fact, two “countdown to 18” clocks for Emma, even though the age of consent in England is 16:
http://www.jonnydigital.com/countdowns/emma-watson (love the anime drawing)
Of course, for those worried about not looking as good as the actors in the film, another bit of trivia from the IMDB said they used computers to digitally remove any skin outbreaks, as makeup wasn’t cutting it in in the closeups. Amusingly they said they used the same process as Desperate Housewives, confirming that it doesn’t get any better with age.
I was asked to comment on watchability for kids, since this is the first Harry Potter film to get the PG-13 rating. While there is some scary/creepy imagery, it’s not very gory. Some dead bodies, sure. However, I definitely think it’s tamer than Star Wars III. If your kid’s 13, go for it. Especially if you can see it at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, that would be an experience they’d long remember. Heck, it almost makes me wish I had kids to share it with. Almost. Please don’t send me your kids.