Directed by: Mike Newell
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Following a perilous run-in with Lord Voldemort’s infamous Death Eaters at the Quidditch World Cup, it’s quite apparent that Harry will once more encounter a whole mess of trouble during his fourth year at Hogwarts. When the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is chosen as the host for the next Triwizard Tournament, it’s discovered that three total schools, Hogwarts included, must choose a single representative a piece to compete on-site in three different challenges. In order to do so, the almighty Goblet of Fire is called upon to choose those 17 and older to partake in the tournament, that is, until none other than the legendary Harry Potter’s name is procured from the Goblet after the initial three contestants have been chosen. What ensues is potentially Harry’s most challenging hindrance to date, contest and all.
Hormones. They manage to push and shove their way to the forefronts of the minds of our favorite witches and wizards faster than you can mutter even the simplest of incantations. Frankly, it’s all been a long time coming, and seeing as how Potter and friends are only getting older, the various instances of budding teen romance and the social awkwardness they can bring about are a welcome change. The only problem this could potentially present is a perpetual battle for attention between the sequences in question and the central focus of the novel, of which relies on some pretty straightforward action sequences surrounding the events of the renowned Triwizard Tournament. Luckily, series veteran Kloves, who’s been aptly handling all Potter film adaptations up to the present, provides us with an appropriate script, but newcomer Mike Newell somewhat struggles a bit in maintaining the cohesiveness present within the first three films.
The dark and brooding nature of Cuarón’s acclaimed Prisoner of Azkaban has also returned, and with good reason. Aside from the obvious maturity Harry and friends are often coming to terms with, there’s more action here than you can shake a stick, er, wand at. From ferocious, man-eating dragons and blood-hungry merpeople to the inevitable return of the Dark Lord himself, the portrayal of said events on the big screen have ultimately earned Goblet of Fire the series’ first PG-13 rating. This doesn’t necessarily mean the film is any better or worse than previous installments, yet some of the scarier, more intense elements can be perceived as hit-or-miss. I personally loved just about everything Newell and the gang had to offer here, with the exception of a select few pacing issues and the aforementioned lack of overall cohesion.
Additionally, Hogwarts is once again graced with an addition to its constantly fluctuating faculty in the form of a fourth Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody. Wonderfully portrayed by the always charismatic Brendan Gleeson, the character in question brings a lot to the table when prompted to meet the growing standards the Potter series has developed over the years. Outside of Gleeson, it’s essentially more of the same with Radcliffe and the gang, further proving to us that the trio in question can easily tackle the ever-present emotional complexities their characters encounter as they trudge through to the end of their annual stay at Hogwarts.
So, when it comes down to it, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is yet another successful adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s bestselling novel of the same title. Although it somewhat lacks the creative flair of Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban and the admirable sense of cohesiveness of all three previous installments, it’s easy to appreciate the creative risks Newell took with the fourth Potter film and in dealing with the curveballs the source material threw at him. To put it plainly, Goblet of Fire isn’t the best in the series, but it sure is damn close.