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EW review: Potter is on 'Fire'

Also: Thin 'Jarhead,' dopey 'Prime'

By Ty Burr
Entertainment Weekly

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

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(Entertainment Weekly) -- Who are the Harry Potter movies for, anyway?

It could be argued that the films exist mostly as Warner Bros. cash cows, continued employment for Daniel Radcliffe and the great thespians of England, and an inducement to read for kids who don't go to the library enough. (After all, J.K. Rowling devotees seem to accept them as big-budget simulacra while carping about this house elf that's been cut out and that Dursley left untormented.)

That these movies are good -- especially now that the directors' reins have been wrested from proficient hack Chris Columbus and given to real filmmakers -- seems almost secondary.

The two-disc DVD of installment 4, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is a high-end bookmark, then. The film's CGI showpieces translate to the small screen, but it's the all-encompassing teen angst that moves to center stage. By the end of "Goblet," with the appearance of a fearsome, noseless Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort and a father's howl of anguish over his dead son, it's clear the Potter franchise has grown up.

That's okay, since the bonus disc and its EXTRAS are the equivalent of a security blanket right out of the dryer. Eight extra scenes and various making-of featurettes are engaging filler, and the videogames are, as ever, profoundly useless to anyone negotiating them with a TV remote.

The segment titled ''Reflections on the Fourth Film'' gives a surprisingly touching sense of the camaraderie among the young cast members; and a prolonged postproduction chat with Radcliffe (without glasses!), Emma Watson (wearing braces!), and Rupert Grint (shorter hair!) shows them to be both refreshing dorks and seasoned pros.

''He didn't treat us like kids,'' Watson says of "Goblet" director Mike Newell. ''We're not playing kids,'' retorts Radcliffe. Amen, brother.

EW Grade: B+

(Read CNN.com's review.)

'Jarhead'

Reviewed by Brian Raftery

"Jarhead," Sam Mendes' adaptation of Anthony Swofford's Gulf War memoir, retains all of the book's visceral detail -- burning oil fields have never looked so arresting -- but little of the absurdist, war-as-tedium behavior that Swofford so expertly observed through his gas mask.

Stripping away the underbelly of dark comedy means "Jarhead" must survive on narrative alone, and unfortunately, the story wears thin after the first hour as the film declines into combat-flick predictability. (This despite Mendes' visual acumen and Jake Gyllenhaal's gutsy turn as the cynical Marine.)

The EXTRAS include interviews with actual Marines and a first-class collection of deleted scenes, like Sam Rockwell dispensing soldierly wisdom as Swofford's gung-ho uncle. Mini-docs cover the actors' on-set rifts and boot-camp training. The highlight: Jamie Foxx riffing on what Ray Charles' military training might have sounded like.

EW Grade: B-

'Prime'

Reviewed by Erin Richter

There's awkward funny, as in NBC's hit "The Office," and then there's awkward awkward, as in "Prime," a hackneyed romantic dramedy from writer-director Ben Younger.

Of course, Uma Thurman glows as Rafi, a 37-year-old divorcee who falls for a sexy 23-year-old. And Meryl Streep effortlessly kvetches as the therapist who discovers her Jewish son's girlfriend is her gentile patient. But any potential for a smart comedy is quashed by clumsy dialogue like this overshare between Rafi and her therapist/beau's mom: ''His penis is so beautiful I just want to knit it a hat.''

EXTRAS Not prime enough. Commentary with Younger and producer Jennifer Todd details the Yiddishisms and NYC settings, as well as how they got permission to reproduce a Rothko painting. A making-of reveals the story's weak autobiographical roots and that Streep believes Younger has ''the confidence of an older soul.'' That's a compliment, right?

EW Grade: C-


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