This week’s wide releases find us within both a goblet and a burnin’ ring of fire. We’ve got legends, both fantastic ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") and musical (the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line"). Will these heavily anticipated films generate warmth, or be scorched by the critics?
As the Harry Potter series progresses, the decision to cast actors who would literally grow into their roles is paying bigger dividends each time out; it’s becoming the fantasy equivalent of the "Up" documentaries. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the fourth installment, is complete with the sorcery and effects that marked the earlier films, but this time, critics say, it generates the most drama and excitement when it focuses on the characters’ (achingly real) adolescent pains. At 87 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Goblet" is on fire, so hot, in fact, that it’s Certified Fresh. It’s only slightly below the best reviewed film of the series, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," which scored a lofty 89 percent. And it’s the second best-reviewed wide release of the year, behind only "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (Tomatometer: 95 percent).
There aren’t a lot of people who had both the Rev. Billy Graham and Glenn Danzig in their rolodexes. But there weren’t a lot of people like Johnny Cash, whose polarities are explored in "Walk the Line," starring Joaquin Phoenix as the young Man in Black, and Reese Witherspoon as his wife and musical partner June Carter Cash. Critics say this one’s hotter than a pepper sprout, with great musical and thespian performances, and while "Walk the Line" may fall prey to many of the problems that plague movie biopics, you won’t cry, cry, cry about it in a film this well acted. How high’s the Tomatometer, mama? Seventy-eight percent, and while the wheat and the oats may be a washout, "Walk the Line’s" crop is Certified Fresh.