FILM REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth installment in the series. The book is generally considered to be one of the best in the series. Its film adaptation, however, is another matter. Many took issue with certain changes and felt that the plot was rushed. This is understandable as it was at this point that Rowling’s books passed the 500-page mark. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has the difficult task of compressing a complex plot, with few things that could be left out, into less than a three-hour run-time. The results of this are mixed.
Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys attend the Quidditch World Cup at the end of the summer. However, their enjoyment is soon interrupted by a commotion led by Voldemort’s followers. When they finally make it back to Hogwarts, it is to the news that the school will host the Tri-Wizard Tournament, a series of dangerous tests with a valuable prize at the end. Students under sixteen are banned from entering and Harry finds much to his surprise that he is named as one of the contestants. This is clearly the work of someone intent on harming him. Harry must now use all of his wits, courage and the help of his friends to survive the tournament and make it to the fifth year.
The length of the book was bound to cause problems with pacing. The film begins at breakneck speed and doesn’t let up for the first fifteen minutes. After this, it slows a little but not by much. This isn’t a problem for book readers but I suspect that non-book readers may get a little lost. That being said, the film does make good use of visual storytelling, communicating a good amount of information quickly to the audience. The editing is certainly impressive.
There are several additions to the cast. David Tennant, of Doctor Who fame, appears as Barty Crouch Junior to much excitement from the fandom. Tennant is certainly very watchable as the mad villain. Similarly, Brendan Gleeson is wonderfully eccentric as fan favorite Mad-Eye Moody. Miranda Richardson is excellent and true to the book as the hateful Rita Skeeter. Then there are the three Hogwarts champions: Victor Krum, Fleur Delacour, and Cedric Diggory, played by Stanislav Yanevski, Clemence Poesy, and Robert Pattison shortly before Twilight catapulted him to worldwide fame. Roger Lloyd Pack is also perfect for the staid and complex Barty Crouch. Finally, of course, this is the first film where we see Voldemort fully realized. Ralph Fiennes is mesmerizing in a gleefully evil performance.
Unlike other adaptations of the series, there are some major changes here. Goblet of Fire was the first adaptation to leave a lot out of the original plot. This is understandable and for the most part is not too irritating. However, the most notable admissions are the Veela, The World Cup itself, Ludo Bagman and Winky the house elf. Choosing to leave out Winky is truly baffling since she is involved in such a large part of the central mystery. They likely did this to avoid including another expensively animated character like Dobby. Also dismaying is the choice to make the maze in the final task so different. In the book the contestants had to encounter a number of magical creatures in order to reach the center, instead, the maze moves and attempts to capture players. While not vital to include the original maze, it took a lot away from that section of the film.
The filmmakers, controversially, choose to add a few comic relief scenes in such a plot heavy film. The most superfluous being a scene where McGonagall teaches the schoolchildren to dance. The scene is funny scene and relevant to the upcoming ball but some argued it could have been left out in favour of more book material. I cannot, however, complain about the inclusion of a different scene involving Snape repeatedly whacking the boys on the back of the head with a piece of paper for taking in study hall. That scene is gold. Certain extended action sequences such as Harry’s rooftop chase with the Hungarian Horntail could also have been shortened.
One final thing that upset many an audience member is the scene when Dumbledore loses his temper which is completely out of character. Still, overall, what they do choose to adapt closely they do well. This installment also features the first major death in the series.
The CGI in Goblet of Fire is impressive and holds up well whether it be the merpeople, the dragons or simply a moving stained glass portrait. The soundtrack is playful and enjoyable, perfectly accompanying the highs and lows of Harry’s fourth year.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the first Harry Potter film to feature any real romance. This is mostly due to the Yule Ball and the fact that the characters are growing up. Once Rowling chooses to include romance, it begins springing up everywhere. Hermione enjoys the interest of Victor Krum, much to Ron’s chagrin. The film introduces Harry Potter’s first real love interest in Cho Chang (played by Katie Leung). Even Hagrid gets a romantic subplot.
Overall, despite its flaws, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a fun ride that manages to pack a lot into just under three hours. It may have a few disappointments for book fans but for the most part, is a competent, fun follow up to Prisoner of Azkaban.
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
Content Note: The film is rated PG-13 and has no explicit content.
Where to Watch: The film is available to purchase on DVD, Amazon Channels, and Google Play.
“You had me at hello.”
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”