Definitely my second favourite film of the series, after the fantastic third instalment. This film takes the approach of the previous film, to adapt the novel a lot more loosely and mainly just communicate the general atmosphere, character relationships, and other assorted strengths, a lot further than the last film did – huge swathes of the novel are excised in the creation of a film that still feels a tad overlong at times. The problems inherent in adapting a book series read by fans extremely devoted to the text become more and more apparent as the series goes on, although never quite as badly as in the next film, where the longest book becomes the shortest film.
But back to “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. The series continues to grow up. The boys all have longer hair. Romantic relationships are a much greater concern for the students. The main trio wrestle with the confusing feelings they’ve started to have. Angst abounds. Meanwhile, a fantasy story more typical to the genre, a tournament consisting of successive quests, progresses, along with one of J. K. Rowling’s more impressively handled mysteries.
The general strength of the premise is strong enough that even a much less skilled director (such as the director of the next instalments, David Yates) could have handled it well enough, but director Mike Newell does particularly good work here. This is definitely the entry of the series where the stakes are raised uncomfortably higher, and it would have been easy to transition the tone and story direction of the series clumsily, but Newell manages it with finesse.
As with the last two films, the additional cast are a delight. David Tennant does memorable work with the little he’s given, Brendan Gleeson is eminently enjoyable, and Robert Pattinson establishes his character and arc strongly in a fairly small number of scenes (unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the non-Hogwarts competitors in the tournament, who fail to make any impression).
A very visually compelling, exciting fantasy film, one that would be enjoyable even without the franchise name. I give it three dragon eggs, and a portkey.