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Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005 05:17 am

Harry comes of age

Fourth Potter film smells like teen spirit

The biggest surprise about the Harry Potter films? They just keep getting better. Instead of simply repeating elements that worked well the first time around, the sequels have expanded on the original situations and allowed their appealing characters to grow. Credit, of course, goes to the source material, the immensely popular novels by J.K. Rowling, as well as producer David Heyman, who has been able to maintain a remarkable consistency in the first four film adaptations. Goblet of Fire, the latest Potter film, is directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Donnie Brasco), and he’s an inspired choice. Newell is adept at making character-driven movies that revolve around complex relationships, and, once the special effects are stripped away, the Potter films are nothing if not character studies. Goblet follows its three main characters — wizard-in-training Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his two best friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) — into puberty. However, there are far greater changes afoot than physical ones for this trio as they are forced to mature quickly when faced with yet another mystery at their school, Hogwarts, that will test their loyalty to one another and their moral mettle as well. Goblet features the first appearance of the main villain, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), signaling a turning point in the Potter saga. Harry, Ron, and Hermione come to realize that no one is safe and that adulthood, with all of its thorny problems, none of which can be solved with the wave of a wand, is looming. Harry is maturing, and his adventures are keeping up with him, providing viewers with not just an entertaining examination of a young boy’s passage into adulthood but a story that touches on the hopes, fears, and disappointments inherent to people of this age. Growing pains have rarely been rendered in such a compelling or accurate fashion.

Also in theaters this week. . .

Derailed [R] Two married business administrators meet on their morning commute. They begin seeing each other on the sly, or so they think. An attentive criminal blackmails the two love birds and they must comply to save their families. Parkway Pointe

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ [R] Marcus (Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson) resorts to selling drugs when his mother dies. After a near fatal misfortune, he puts all his energy into realizing his dream of becoming a successful rapper.
Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East
Shopgirl [R] Thoughtful Mirabelle, a shopgirl, finds herself stuck between loving two men: Ray, a rich older man and Jeremy a young struggling musician. ShowPlace West

Walk the Line [PG-13] A celebratory biopic of Johnny Cash’s tumultuous music career and the love of his life, June Carter. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East

Zathura [PG] Two children find themselves catapulted into the galactic universe that exists in the board game Zathura. To return to normal, they must finish the dangerous game. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East


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