A new year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry brings about new challenges and difficulties that the titular hero and his two close friends will undoubtedly face. And every year the danger increases tenfold (that no teenager should ever face alone) than the previous film that threatens the main ensemble and the wizarding world at large. The 4th film titled Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire feels like a true sequel to its predecessor because of the climactic events that happen in the 3rd film. There are repercussions that are a direct effect which shifts the landscape and tone for the remainder of the series going forward.
All of which can be summed up in two words. He’s back.
For Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) discovering new ways wizards and witches use magic never gets old. There are new surprises every day and around every corner that Harry discovers and something so miniscule like walking into a small tent can take his breath away. But there’s also the dark magic that creeps up out of nowhere that takes our hero by surprise, putting his naivety on display. There is so much more to the world of magic (both good and bad) that isn’t taught at Hogwarts.
After a bone chilling and brief introduction to the villain and his sinister plot to make his long awaited return to power that sets the tone for the film, Harry and Ron (Rupert Grint) are furiously awoken by Hermione (Emma Watson) because they are running behind schedule. Where the Weasley family consisting of Patriarch Arthur (Mark Williams), Fred and George (James and Oliver Phelps), and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) are headed is to the Quidditch World Cup. Ireland vs. Bulgaria and Ron’s favorite Quidditch player, the world famous Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) being the object of everyone’s affection. But returning screenwriter Steve Kloves doesn’t spend much time on the match itself – more so the aftermath and the terror that follows.
Terror that will follow Harry throughout his 4th year, linking him once again to his worst nightmare. Once the school year starts, the meat and potatoes of Goblet of Fire centers around the Triwizard tournament. 3 Schools including the host school Hogwarts will each select a champion to win the highly coveted prize. Durmstrang Institute’s champion is Viktor Krum, Beauxbatons Academy’s champion is Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy), and Hogwarts champion is Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson). Soon after the fire from the goblet settles, another piece of parchment shoots out, giving a fourth name as champion to participate.
Read out in disbelief and confusion by headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is the name Harry Potter.
Instantly, you can feel the once cheerful atmosphere evaporate into nothingness – Harry is in shock, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) is in denial and all of the rest of the professors are left speechless. In a tournament only meant for 17 year old’s, there is no way a 14 year old could have tricked Dumbledore’s charms and got his name into the goblet. The rules of the tournament are binding – Harry has to compete, leaving Dumbledore to side with Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) over Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) to let the events play out while Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) watching over Harry from a distance.
Every year, without fail Harry is thrust into a dangerous situation which he has no control over or any clue to how keep his head above water. At least he has Ron and Hermione by his side right? Wrong – believing Harry kept his entry as a secret, Ron turns his back on his best friend, that is until the first task. At its core, The Goblet of Fire can be defined as a coming-of-age film first, death-defying fantasy adventure second. Director Mike Newell finds balance within the spectacle of the Triwizard tournament and the everyday lives of teenagers – keeping the story grounded.
To expand on that – the teenage years are some of the most frustrating, exciting and confusing times in life. Thrown into the story is a yule ball sized wrench in which boys have to ask girls to accompany them and dance the night away. ”Why do they have to travel in packs” Harry asked Ron as they continuously fail to work up the courage to ask someone before all the good ones get asked. It’s the age old question every teenage boy ponders. On top of that Kloves script captures the complexities of these crucial years of discovery, taking plutonic relationships to a new level and it’s the trio of Radcliffe, Watson and Grint that run with these changing dynamics.
Now in their 4th turn playing the main trio, Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are at their most comfortable, finding small tweaks in the nuance to keep pushing their characters forward. Michal Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane are the films anchors, complimenting the greater ensemble while Radcliffe does much of the emotional heavy lifting. Whereas newcomers like Brendan Gleeson fit right into the magical world with a hard shelled exterior and quick tempered approach. But the character that has been building up for 3 films finally makes his introduction – Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
And what an introduction from Ralph Fiennes as the dark lord. Terrifying in his soft spoken speech that makes the character truly unpredictable.
The scope of the Triwizard tournament dazzles, showing off an impressive landscape backdrop for the tournament as the four champions defy the odds in completing these difficult tasks. Hogwarts itself is given an upgrade, making the few recognizable sets more intricate and full of life. Replacing Quidditch, the first task puts us in Harry’s POV, on the back of his firebolt broomstick as he narrowly escapes death from a dragon. Director Mike Newell turns the tension and fear up to an 11 during this sequence, keeping all spectators on their toes. Since the darker tone has taken over, the vibrancy in colors become muted – foreshadowing the events to come. Cinematographer Roger Pratt spans the sky and the depth of the black lake with sweeping shots mixed with more personal close-up ones emphasizing the varying levels of emotion from the ensemble.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the longest book in the series, nearly doubling its predecessor but Kloves and Newell condense the book enough to still feature the main DNA and structure of the story while not losing any of its emotionally charged depth. Goblet of Fire is Kloves best script out of the 4 adapted films, curating his screenplay to fit the complexities of the growing pains of its young cast and keeping the more mature themes and a darker tone at the forefront.
Screenplay By: Steve Kloves
Directed By: Mike Newell
Music By: Patrick Doyle
Cinematography: Roger Pratt
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Maggie Smith, Robert Pattinson, David Tennant
Where to Watch: Max
Edited By: Mick Audsley
Release Date: November 18, 2005
Running Time: 2 Hours 37 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Based On: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling