The coming of age of Harry Potter

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Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in `Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.'
Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in `Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.'

Shyam G. Menon

Mumbai, Nov. 14

THE boy wizard is back and he is not quite a boy anymore. With a cupid in every corner, people falling in love, skirting a crush or struggling to comprehend one, the magic of adolescence sums up the atmosphere in `Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.'

Even big Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) isn't spared. He is smitten by the equally big Madame Maxime (Frances De La Tour), headmistress of the Beauxbaton Academy, one of three schools of magic participating in the `Triwizard Tournament.'

It is a dangerous contest, for which Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) does not originally enlist but finds himself in, courtesy that force which has shaped much of his story to date - destiny.

It is his destiny to participate, his destiny to endure each test and along the way come face to face with that dark shadow in his life - the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

The adolescent ages of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), and their interaction with the young wizards visiting Hogwarts for the tournament, provide plenty of light moments, valuable for any Potter fan's scrapbook. The supporting cast, Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in particular, turns in a flawless performance. Team Harry Potter was never more efficient.

But if you are not a young Potter fan and instead used to the series as an escape from the dull and daily grind, chances are all those hearts aflutter may sap your patience for seeing the film. It is too full of Potter's coming of age and the values therein, that his face-off with Lord Voldemort gets relegated as a mere episode, not a landmark.

With Hagrid marginalised, a rather predictable Hogwarts faculty and an encounter with evil passed over in forgettable fashion (despite Fiennes), the fourth filmed adaptation of J.K. Rowling's work leaves you wondering if Potter magic - as we knew it - is on the edge of waning.

Possibly no fault of the movie - you liked the boy wizard because reality was boring. Reality just got more boring and all that happened to the boy was that he grew to be an adolescent in a story now playing out like a well oiled corporate. Potter grown-up and four films-old, actually smells of the real world.

Somebody forgot the therapeutic value of hope, magic and an idea called Harry Potter.

The film releases here on November 18.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 15, 2005)
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