After the amazing film adaptation that was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Harry Potter series was expected to continue performing on the higher level that Cuaron set. However, with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the series takes a very dramatic step backwards. Is it possible that the Harry Potter series peaked withPrisoner of Azkaban?
Unlike the previous movies, the story begins with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) amongst his best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and (Hermione), as well as the rest of Ron’s clan with no mention of the Dursleys made. In fact, this is the first movie where Harry’s adoptive Muggle family is nowhere to be found and to be honest, it’s a great move, allowing the story to pick up faster than before. Hogwarts’s Big Three (as well as the rest of the Weasleys) venture out to the magical equivalent of soccer’s World Cup, the Quidditch… World… Cup. Hmm. However, before the vuvuzelas are given a chance to warm up, mysterious beings attack the stadium, causing mayhem, panic, destruction, and all other evil terms. The beings, known as Death Eaters, are supporters of Lord Voldemort, and their re-emergence serve to pre-empt the return of Voldemort himself.
Returning to Hogwarts, Harry and friends find out that Hogwarts will be host to the Triwizard Tournament, an international tournament linking two other magical schools, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and Durmstrang Institute. While the tournament itself is only meant to accommodate the three chosen participants from each school, Harry is reluctantly added as a fourth competitor. The adventure is thusly set in place: Harry must compete in the Triwizard Tournament as the looming threat of the Death Eaters plays out in the background.
Every Harry Potter movie expands the base of the magical mythos with each installment. While the previous movies are primarily focused around Harry and his friends and Hogwarts, Goblet of Fire encompasses a larger scale. This is the first movie to indicate that there are other magic schools around the world, with Beauxbatons and Durmstrang originating from France and Bulgaria, respectively. It’s interesting to see that magic lives outside of Hogwarts’s walls.
Goblet of Fire also showcases greater character development, as well. Given that Harry and the rest of his classmates are around 14 years old at the time, they are stricken by a curse even Muggles are known to have struggled with: puberty. Here, we are witnesses to angst between Ron and Harry, as well as budding sexual tension between Ron and Hermione. The tension comes to a head (fellatio hurr hurr hurr) in a scene where Harry is taking a bath and Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson), a female ghost who was previously seen in Chamber of Secrets, makes suggestive sexual statements towards him. There is nothing sexy about it, either. It just made me feel dirty. Shame on you, Myrtle.
A large focus is placed on Harry’s growth into adulthood. Cho Chang (Katie Leung) makes her first appearance in the movies, despite playing a somewhat minor role in each other previous books. She serves to be Harry’s first crush and scenes involving his interactions with her are awkward in the way pubescent interactions always are. Still, it’s good to see that Harry and the others are finally growing, and with their growth, the movies advance towards more adult themes.
Unfortunately, Goblet of Fire fails at properly balancing character development with action. In fact, the best scenes in the movie happen in the third act. Outside of the handful of entertaining scenes that are mostly just, “Haha, Harry doesn’t know how to talk to girls,” the Triwizard Tournament scenes are the only truly enrapturing scenes. There are dragon attacks! A suspenseful underwater struggle! A living maze! A Voldemort’s return! Yes, the main purpose of the movie, the resurrection of Voldemort, happens in the last act. Despite how major the scene is, having to wade through the awkward Harry puberty scenes is BARELY worth it.
It’s a shame that Goblet of Fire doesn’t live up to expectations it carried following the brilliant Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s still better than the first two movies, but that’s not really saying much, is it? However, despite the drawbacks of the story, Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson’s performances continue to get better with age.
Overall Score: 6.50 – Okay. (6s are just okay. These movies usually have many flaws, didn’t try to do anything special, or were poorly executed. Some will still love 6s, but most prefer to just rent them. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a decent movie; however, it loses points because of how high Prisoner of Azkaban raised expectations for the Harry Potter series. Issues with balancing and pacing unfortunately hold the movie back. The move away from its humble children’s/fantasy roots and towards an increasing focus on action is a step in the right direction as the characters and dangers grow.