Friday, July 5, 2024

Green Phoenix - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Review


I wish to apologize for the delay in releasing this review and my general lack of content lately. Life has been very busy and I have been having to prioritize other aspects. It is my hope that I can get back into the habit of writing more regularly, but with life you can't always be certain.

 The plan is for my writing to now at least come out once a month, on the first Friday of every month.


Of all the films in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the film which holds perhaps the strongest memories with him. I clearly remember going to the premiere of this film as a child, as it was the first costume contest I ever participated in (I was dressed as Harry Potter and won). I also remember the experience as being funny because I was wearing an outdated pair of glasses because they looked closer to Harry Potter's pair, and I had forgotten to bring my actual glasses to the theater, meaning I had to watch a movie with a fuzzy pair of old glasses.

At the time, I was frustrated because I genuinely wanted to experience the film in the best way and was limited by a dumb choice for a costume contest, but now I just laugh at the memory of watching Voldemort's ritual scene with my eyes squinting, asking what was going on? Suffice it to say, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a rare film that left an indelible memory of its initial viewing experience.

But does the film hold up over a decade later? Does the film stand as an equal to its immediate predecessor or is it a product of nostalgia alone?

  • Produced by Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Directed by Mike Newell
  • Running Time: 157 Minutes
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13


Harry Potter's fourth year is set to be his most chaotic year yet. Following a terrorist attack at the Quidditch World Cup, Harry finds himself forced to participate as the fourth member of a deadly interscholastic competition known as the Triwizard Tournament. While the tournament is designed for 17 year olds, 14 year old Harry will have to deal with a school that doesn't trust him, a mole who seems to have set him up, life-threatening challenges, and a mysterious plot laid out by the followers of Lord Voldemort who seek to use the tournament to resurrect their fallen master.



While I still maintain that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite film in the franchise, I think it is safe to say that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is easily the second place finisher and can even match its predecessor in terms of enjoyability. Where the first two films felt very insular and focused exclusively on Hogwarts, Prisoner of Azkaban began and this film completed the arc of reminding us as the audience that the wider Harry Potter mythos is referred to as the Wizarding World franchise. This results in a film that feels larger and more alive than most previous entries and this gives Goblet of Fire a refreshing and fun vibe throughout most of its runtime.

In terms of the quality of the film's production, I personally think that this film looks the best out of the franchise. It has some of the greatest spectacles within the Harry Potter series and uses a balanced mix of practical and computer effects to make the Wizarding world come to life. The dragon challenge is a truly stunning piece of cinematography. Where the magic in the first two films was more child-like and whimsical and the third film really only had the Patronus charm scenes as a peak example of magic, this film is really the first to highlight the power of magic in a substantial way. When coupled with a fun and elegant soundtrack, it leaves the audience thrilled and excited for the film's thunderous climax.

I think that more than anything is the best way to describe Goblet of Fire. While it possesses many of the same lackluster mystery elements which exist in most Harry Potter films, it doesn't really focus on them. The underlying mystery in this film is who put Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire and why? While the question is important and they sprinkle clues throughout, the film really focuses on Harry's efforts to survive the Triwizard Tournament and the mystery is largely left alone until the absolute end of the film. Its not a central piece of the story, merely its starting action. The film instead focuses on the thrills and risk of a life or death tournament, which is exactly what it needed to do.
The film relies heavily on emotion and it tries to make you care for the characters, though it does struggle due in no small part to the fact that characters like Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy are just...the worst. They go through some terribly frustrating moments and the fact that the whole school turns on Harry after everything at a certain point just becomes ridiculous. And the plotline is dropped with almost no consequence immediately after the First Task, which is a relic of the original book so its a narrative issue as a whole.

In addition, the film does also begin to ramp up some of the teenage drama, especially around the Yule Ball, which leads to some funny moments but ultimately ends up being rather frustrating and emotionally draining for fans of Hermione and Harry. It actually gets a little annoying if I'm honest, but that is probably because as I've gotten older, my tolerance for high school drama in media has greatly diminished. The drama is ultimately intended to get us to care about these characters, especially Cedric Diggory, who is introduced in this film and serves a role that fundamentally shifts the entire tone of the franchise upon that role's completion.
Robert Pattinson does an amazing job, but he and the rest of the other Triwizard champions (other than Harry) are limited in their overall presence in the film. They have no real connections to Harry so he only really deals with them in the context of the tournament. Krum is somewhat tied to Hermione and Fleur has some fun moments with Ron, but the film would've done better to actually connect Harry's fellow champions to his direct circle of influence. If he became friends with them, we would care more for their safety.

All of these elements however, are issues with adaptation. Harry in the original book doesn't really have much of an active role in the book, largely being pushed and poked by everyone around him (especially Mad-Eye Moody). As a result, he doesn't engage actively with the rest of the cast except Cedric, who again has no other ties to our main cast outside of the Tournament. The adaptation couldn't really do anything to change this without fundamentally altering the story so it really is what it is.

Despite the narrative limitations, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire remains a fun adventure that is a great transition into the more tonally mature sequels that in many ways acts as a part two to most of the plotlines begun in Prisoner of Azkaban. With excellent action sequences and effects, enjoyable music, and an successful introduction to a larger wizarding world, Goblet of Fire sets the stage for Harry Potter's absolute darkest outing in Order of the Phoenix.

That's going to be a rough one to review.
  • 8/10
  • 8/10
  • 7/10
  • 7/10

 FINAL SCORE - 7.5/10

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