This was the first Potter movie I was nervous to watch. The book is some 700 odd pages long, massive compared to the previous three. Given how much of Prisoner of Azkaban‘s plot was sacrificed for time, I knew vast amounts of Goblet of Fire would need to be changed to fit into a film.
Amazingly this movie manages to adapt the book very well. While I miss the intricacies of the book’s plot, this script manages to boil the basic story down into a succinctly crafted story. All the highlights are here– the Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament, Rita Skeeter’s nasty poetic license– so in the end I was a satisfied customer. The only change I truly regret is that Sirius Black’s role was drastically minimized. Gary Oldman is an amazing actor, and the character’s growing relationship with Harry is missed.
What this movie does well is transition the kid characters to teens. Azkaban didn’t delve much into their aging, but Goblet of Fire puts all of that teenage angst on full display. Ron is mad at Harry, Harry is mad at Ron, Hermione is mad at both of them. It’s all so accurately high school (especially everything leading up to and just after The Yule Ball). We’re also treated to some blossoming young romance, but not so much that it overshadows the rest of the story.
Most importantly Goblet of Fire doesn’t try to hide the scarier aspects of the story. I’m sure it was tempting to somehow try to make this a PG movie in order to broaden the audience, but thankfully this turned out to be a solid PG-13 affair. Voldemort’s return is the most frightening thing shown in this series thus far, and I remember being shocked when I first saw it in theaters. Part of me expected the movie to shy away from the more troubling and gruesome aspects of the story, but it absolutely does not. The graveyard scene is played perfectly, and everything surrounding Cedric Diggory’s death is still heartbreaking to watch (I tear up every time I watch this part).
I can’t think of any series that has managed to improve the quality of their films like Harry Potter. The fourth movie in this story of the magical wizard student manages to rise above its predecessors, despite the first three films being great in their own right. This instalment continues to grow with the young cast, becoming darker and containing far more teen angst than any of the previous three films. The series also begins to hint at the love lives of the three teenage leads for the first time.
Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts is going to be an exciting one. The Tri-Wizard tournament is being held at the school this year, which means two other wizarding schools will also be present at Hogwarts as they will also be participating in this tournament. Students can enter this tournament by placing their names in the titular Goblet of Gire, although they have to be 17 in order to enter. To everyone’s shock, Harry’s name is pulled out of the Goblet when participants are being chosen, despite the fact he is nowhere near 17. Harry must compete in this tournament and hope he doesn’t kill himself against these other students who are far more experienced than him. Eventually the dark wizard Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) appears to cause mayhem in Harry’s life once more, causing the biggest tragedy since his parents died in Harry’s tragedy filled life.
Now, I enjoyed this film a lot. I did have some questions about why Harry had to compete in this tournament at all. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and the wizarding community acted like he was bound by law to compete because his name came out of the Goblet. Why couldn’t they just say it was obviously a mistake and not let him compete? Despite this huge plot hole, this is perhaps the most entertaining of the Potter films. I loved the tournament scenes, particularly the underwater scene where Harry must rescue his best friend Ron (Rupert Grint) before he is attacked by some demonic looking mermaids. The final scenes where Voldemort is resurrected are awesome too. They are quite dark for a movie marketed for children, but as I’ve said before, one of the things I love about this series is that it grows with its audience. People that were 11 when the first films came out are now well into their teens and it feels like this film was made for them.
My only real complaint is that so much was left out of the book. This was the first film that cut considerable chunks out of the book because it was just too big. I understand why they did it, but it would have been nice to see some of the things they cut out.