starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane
screenplay by Steven Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
directed by Mike Newell
by Walter Chaw Just as Harry and the other arms of his archetypal triangle stumbled into adolescence with aplomb and poetry under the guidance of Alfonso Cuarón in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, they awkward-and-gangly their way into a holding pattern in Mike Newell's puttering Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (hereafter Harry Potter 4). It looks grungy and it lacks grace: the moments meant to inspire are tired and the moments meant to edify are portentous and unbearably drawn-out. There's not a lot here for the non-fanatic, with screenwriter Steve Kloves failing the material for the first time and Newell showing himself to be exactly the kind of director who would make slick, protracted nothings like Mona Lisa Smile and Pushing Tin. The Newell film Harry Potter 4 most resembles, however, is Four Weddings and a Funeral (his conduit to the big time and, consequently, the one he's most likely to cannibalize when handed the golden ticket), in that this third sequel tries to worry itself about the trials of youngsters falling in puppy love, going to their first formals, and learning that there are such things in the world as death and taxes. A noble pursuit, chasing characters as they grow from chapter to chapter, from innocence to churlishness to experience (we presume)--but for me, at least, Harry Potter 4 is the first wholly dispensable instalment, repeating the best parts of Cuarón's film and adding to the conversation only the disturbing resurrection of archenemy Voldemort.