Darker, a little more mature, and a little less magical, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire deals primarily with rejection and hormones as Harry and his friends struggle through the transition from childhood to young adulthood.
This time, the film focuses on the students in their awkward stage. Its look is less ostentatious than the previous installments. It’s more intimate and real. With the exceptions of a Quidditch stadium, and some dragons and mermaids, the film tones down on special effects. And yet, it enchants and satisfies its followers and its literally growing fans who have read the book and/or watched the first 3 films.
Some familiarity with the world of Harry Potter is necessary (through the books or through the first 3 movies). Director Mike Newell gives this realm of fantasy adventure a dark, more human look with due respect to what has already been established by his predecessors.
A year older and a little wiser, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is having strange dreams about his arch-enemy Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). And he surprisingly becomes a wild card, an under aged competitor, in a dangerous interschool wizardry competition. Harry wonders if there are forces against him in a conspiracy as his name gets released from the Goblet of Fire while Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry hosts the Tri Wizard Tournament. The champion wizards from the participating schools compete against each other for eternal glory – Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy) of Beauxbatons Academy, Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) of Durmstrang Institute and Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) and Harry Potter of Hogwarts.
Being from the fourth Harry Potter book, the longest of the first four novels of J. K. Rowling, this 2 ½ hour film version highlights the World Cup and the Tri-Wizard Tournament amidst a number of great chapters/subplots from the book. Too bad not all the wonderful and magical details would be accommodated by just one cinematic version. And so, the film focuses more on the tournament and the more human side of the students: the Yule Ball, first dates, school rumors, teenage love and romance, and other teenage issues.
Hermione Granger’s (Emma Watson) other side is given more attention in this film. If she has been known as the diligent and excelling Gryffindor student with muggle parents, this time, she turns into a beautiful young woman attracting a fair amount of male attention, including the famed foreigner champion athlete Viktor Krum and Harry`s green-eyed buddy Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). The senior characters Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Prof. McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Prof. Snape (Alan Rickman), Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) are given only few but significant exposures. The most scenes for the senior characters are given to the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the man with a free-floating left eyeball, Prof. Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson).
Fiennes’ portrayal of the evil wizard doesn`t seem all that ominous, and is in fact, quite disappointing. It’s like his followers, the Death Eaters, are far more sinister than him. Being the Dark Lord seen in his human form for the first time, he seems to be a not so ultimately terrifying figure at all. The ending also becomes a bit too fast. A little more suspense-thrilled and dramatic climactic fight between Harry and Voldemort could have been more heart pumping.
The film maintains its high ranks in production design and cinematography. Its dark presentation gives justice to the story. The production design gives a whimsy and ominous enjoyment for imaginative minds.
The roster of music for the film may not be like stand alone hits for radio countdowns, but the tracks work their magic onscreen. It bursts from brass-heavy orchestration to a scream of strings to that well-known stinger-like Harry Potter magical tune heard in the trailer and the film’s opening billboard. Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway also appear as a rock band during Hogwarts’ Yule Ball.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is more human, but magically-enthralling nonetheless. It is more adult, which fits its growing audience better. Overall, it becomes faithful to the book. Though the treatment and presentation of this film version does not show-off much magic among all the characters as compared to the previous Harry Potter installments, enough sights and sounds stir the audience’s enchanted imaginations.