HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE: Ultimate Edition Blu-Ray Review

     December 26, 2010

With Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the franchise grows in many ways. Not only does the film bring in a new director with Mike Newell, but this is the first film without a score composed by the legendary John Williams and Qudditch. Along with the new faces behind and in front of the camera, the story and the universe of Harry Potter expands to include not just one, but two more schools of witchcraft and wizardry amongst an international wizarding tournament that allows for the introduction of all sorts of new magic, creatures and more. With Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, all of these new elements fit very well in the 734-page book, but condensing that into a roughly two and a half hour film is quite a challenge. For my take on the Ultimate Edition of this sequel and all its supplements, hit the jump.

Thankfully, this is yet another successful installment in the franchise which continues the growth in maturity, intensity and wonder that was thrown into overdrive with Prisoner of Azkaban. Once again, as with my review of Prisoner of Azkaban, there’s no need to intensively recap a film that has been released for over five years, but here’s a quick synopsis and some brief praise for this fourth installment in the Harry Potter franchise. Harry finds himself selected as an underaged competitor in a dangerous multi-wizardary school competition as the wizarding world itself is suddenly stricken with fear after the appearance of an old symbol of evil sparks villainous activity. With stunning action set pieces, performances that have increased in quality with the age of lead actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, and the return of the unspeakable Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has twists, turns and thrills that continue the tradition of the blockbuster fantasy franchise with flying colors.

As the story in the film delves deeper into the mythology of the wizarding world and the life of Harry Potter, so do the special features of this Ultimate Edition release. Yes, these supplements are the reason to partake in a double-dip of this home video release. Though, unlike Prisoner of Azkaban, this set isn’t bigger than the hardcover release of the book, it’s even more chock full of special features than its predecessor. Complete with several behind-the-scenes featurettes that are 45-minutes or longer, this is one of the most in-depth special edition home video releases I have in my possession. So let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this Ultimate Edition outside of the stunning HD transfer of the film itself on Blu-Ray.

THE EXTRAS:

Along with a 44-page collectible booklet highlighting the sound and music of Harry Potter, a removable, 3D lenticular cover and two collectible character cards featuring Ronald Weasley and Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, the Ultimate Edition of Goblet of Fire also includes the following special features:

Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 4: Sound & Music: Continuing the eight-part documentary series with one installment accompanying the Ultimate Edition releases of every film in the Harry Potter franchise, this portion sets its sights on both the sounds and the music that brings the wizarding world to life. Spending just under an hour with the elements of the film without which we would simply be watching a silent film, this documentary continues to illuminate the men and women behind the scenes who generally aren’t in the spotlight and signing autographs, but their blood, sweat and tears can be heard over every single frame of each film in the multi-billion dollar franchise.

On the music side of things, composers John Williams, Patrick Doyle and Nicholas Hooper (sadly Alexandre Desplat, composer for both parts of Deathly Hallows, does not appear in this supplement) spend time talking about composing some of the various themes they’ve put to screen. From the inception of the instantly recognizable Hedwig’s Theme (which was actually composed by Williams before he’d even seen a single frame of the film) to some of the character themes created for Dolores Umbridge and Voldemort, the creation of music and the difficulty of crafting suspense, excitement and sadness through music becomes clear. Splitscreen footage of the orchestra playing different sections of the score along with scenes from the film (sans any audio except the music playing over the scene) really heighten your awareness of even the most subtle presence of music. One of the musicians sums up their talents and skills by saying they could take a person standing in front of a blank white background, and with the addition of music make a viewer think that person was on another planet, in danger, or even just happy to be there.

With sound, which isn’t just another part of the music, you quickly learn that even the most simple audio cues in the film (like footsteps or doors shutting) were very meticulously crafted and chosen carefully. Foley artists (responsible for creating thousands of sound effects throughout the entire film in post-production) are tasked with providing practical sounds that we’re all used to in the real world. While you might not think the act of creating footsteps or the swish of robes takes much thought, there’s plenty of careful decisions to make in this arena. One such foley artist uses different shoes to step through artificial snow in order to differentiate between the sound of Harry’s footsteps from Hermione’s. It really is quite fascinating. These same artists are also tasked with creating the sounds of magic and creatures that no one has ever heard before. From the swish of a wand to the roars of magical creatures, sounds come from the most random of places and things. For example, the twisting of thick wires could be used to create the sound of a giant spider’s movement. Much more of the interesting aspects of this supplement must be seen (and certainly heard) to really understand the importance of even the most simple sounds.

Conversations with the Cast: In a conversation, led by Richard Curtis, with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, the actors candidly talk about their on-set experiences, the effect of the franchise on their life and more. My personal favorite bit makes them seem much less than famous actors and more like the regular teenagers they were around five years ago. In speaking about the famous people they’d love to meet, Grint, an avid golfer, wishes to play against Tiger Woods while Radcliffe has dreams of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson (me too, kid). Meanwhile, Watson just sits, looking so much younger than she does today, complete with braces on her teeth. If anything this supplement just lets you dwell on how much the trio has grown throughout this entire franchise. Also some lucky fans get to sit with the actors and ask some questions of their own. Note: This supplement can actually be found on both of the special features discs, but is presented in HD on the disc with the above documentary.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Behind the Magic: This 45-minute TV special was granted special behind-the-scenes access to all of the iconic sets to conduct interview with the cast and crew of Goblet of Fire. While the host, Ben Shephard is a little goofy and at times a too showy, the conversations are what really shine. From in-depth conversations about the future of the characters to the burst of hormones and romance in the story, all the bases are covered. Bonuses for anyone who is also a fan of Twilight since Robert Pattinson is frequently sighted in his turn as Cedric Diggory.

Inside Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: With a retrospective look back at the first three films, this is probably the least valuable of these extended supplements, but every new year in the franchise it seems like the kid actors have grown and matured so much between the films.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – The Adventure Continues: This 24-minute featurette primarily acts as a studio sanctioned tease for the film with more interviews (this time with more supporting cast members like Ralph Fiennes and Michael Gambon) and candid B-Roll from between various takes and scenes. included are highlights of new characters like Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour and Cedric Diggory. While you won’t get much from this supplement that you don’t get from the others, the bits from the cast and crew will make any fan happy.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Some Animal Magic: Host Ben Shepherd returns, but this time he’s focusing on the various animals and creatures that show up in this fourth installment of the franchise. Once again granted exclusive access, Shepherd gets his hands on creatures like Mrs Norris (Argus Filch’s snitch cat) and even the real snow owl who plays Hedwig (and the other 68 owls who appear in one particular scene in the owlry). In addition, a whole slew of reptiles, birds and more that make up the 150 animals utilized for the duration of production are on hand. There’s also commentary from the actors and director Mike Newell about the difficulty and/or fun working with real-life animals.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Dark Matters, New Masters: The most brief out of the documentary supplements provided, this 13-minute piece acts as more of a preview for those who hadn’t yet seen the film or needed some convincing. This has much more of the traditional fluff interviews talking about the excitement, scale and action of the film with the most simple look at the story and characters.

Deleted Scenes – There are eight deleted scenes presented in HD such as some eavesdropping on Severus Snape and Igor Karkaroff, the students singing the Hogwarts hymn and extended cuts of the Yule Ball and more. Note: The same scenes can be found on both discs, but are only presented in HD on the disc containing the above documentaries.

Theatrical Trailers: Every single theatrical trailer for the film is available for your viewing pleasure.

In addition, all of the special features from original two-disc DVD release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire are included on another disc. They are as follows:

Preparing for the Yule Ball: Making of the prom-like Yule Ball at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Reflections on the Fourth Film
The other special features are categorized by way of the Triwizard Tournament. Separated by the tasks in the film, there are 10-minute featurettes highlighting the making of each of the tournament events including the Dragon Arena, The Lake and The Maze. Along with featurettes on the tasks themselves, the tournament champions are also highlighted and even the rebirth of Lord Voldemort, complete with some creepy concept art, and interviews and on-set footage with Ralph Fiennes before special effects are applied are given ample time. In each of the arenas there are also some simple games to play (mostly for the kids).

THE FINAL WORD: A necessary addition to any Harry Potter fans collection, this Ultimate Edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire doesn’t disappoint. Once again, these will most likely be the editions included in the gargantuan box set that is sure to be released following Deathly Hallows Part II, so if you’re a rabid Harry Potter fan, these Ultimate Editions are for you.


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