The Goblet of Fire was the book that raised the stakes in the Harry Potter series, since it brought the threat of a Voldemort coming back. This meant things were starting to get darker and darker, with more mature themes than ever before. Alfonso Cuarón set the perfect cinematic style for this kind of tale in The Prisoner of Azkaban, but for scheduling reasons he wasn’t able to direct the fourth entry in the franchise, with Mike Newell taking that task instead. How well did that shift work? Let’s find out!
Well known wizard Harry Potter will find himself competing in the Triwizard Tournament, a championship in which the bravest students of three schools of magic battle relentlessly. As if that alone wasn’t enough, the possible return of the Dark Lord himself will haunt the entire competition… And with friendships being more fragile than ever, he might stand alone before the risk for the first time.
The new director is able to put together a very properly shot film, with no major flaws overall. It is absolutely correct at every level. Cuarón’s influence can be found everywhere, as Newell follows his steps when picturing the events of the book. It is, however, a much sloppier attempt that, even if it does work, doesn’t excel at creatively shooting the film. Cinematography feels duller too, with a correct but uninspired use of light and colour throughout the majority of the picture.
Adapting these so beloved novels into film must be a difficult task, but luckily, The Goblet of Fire follows the trend of great screenplays for Harry Potter movies. Sure, as it happened in previous flicks, the adaptation isn’t completely faithful, but the changes are for the best, as they achieve a great sense of constant motion through great pacing. The chain of events is compelling, with scenes between action-packed moments feeling necessary and as entertaining as those epic showcases of visual effects.
Speaking of effects… the film is packed with them. And they are pretty good! From the Quidditch tournament in the opening scene, to the many dragons depicted, to the most twisted stuff in the final task of the Triwizard Tournament, everything is beautifully executed. At times the CGI is a bit over the top, but it definitely holds up even to today’s standards.
However, I do have the feeling the world depicted here feels less magical than that of the previous movies. Sure, the main scenaries are the very same, but it seems a greater effort was done in the first three films in order the surroundings to look more magical. Moving portraits, self-washing dishes, spoons that magically stir tea by themselves… lots of elements were magical, many of which weren’t noticed by first-time viewers, but they all added to the experience of having a magical world before our eyes. Nevertheless, this time around those magical properties are mostly limited to plot-centric elements, unfortunately.
I found editing to be pretty cheesy while rewatching the film once again. Certain shots are introduced to deliberately misguide the viewers into wrong conclusions. This would be fine if they were events showcased from the protagonists’ point of view, but when the film boldly frames someone as a bad guy while no one else is watching, the twists come as cheap deceptions. Other than that, the editing, especially the structural editing, is phenomenal, with only a few weird cuts that don’t flow correctly due to slight continuity issues when it comes to moment-to-moment editing.
Acting quality greatly varies from actor to actor. For instance, Daniel Radcliffe delivers one of the poorest performances in the movie as Harry Potter. This is probably the least compelling portrayal of his character he’s done in the whole saga, in fact. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson did a much better job as Ron and Hermione, respectively, and so did the vast majority of the rest of the cast. James and Oliver Phelps portray Fred and George Weasley in a vivid way, and their performances result in some of the most exhilarating characters of the film. Robbie Coltrane also delivers once again with a huge and cute Hagrid, but in my opinion, the highlight of the film is clearly Brendan Gleeson in the role of MadEye. He is one of the most perfect actor-character matches of the franchise, together with Alan Rickman’s Snape.
The weakest of all four Harry Potter movies so far is still a very good flick that beautifully expands JK Rowling’s Wizarding World. Good direction, a remarkable adaptation, a great cast… it has every element to turn into a crowd-pleasing experience. Maybe it was a tight schedule what caused the lack of attention to detail, which prevented The Goblet of Fire from being among the best of the franchise. Oh, and by the way, what the hell is going on with the hairstyles? 7/10