The Tri-Wizard Tournament
Following on from the great work done in Prisoner Of Azkaban, Harry Potter returns for another coming of age tale, this time solidfying the darker, more mature tone running through the series. With some good characterisation, balanced comedy and another mystery woven through the narrative, Goblet Of Fire is one of the best Harry Potter films, despite some questionable rules and ideas around the Tri-Wizard tournament. Although Goblet can’t quite reach the same lofty heights achieved in Azkaban, there’s enough here to make for a highly enjoyable drama nonetheless.
Now into his fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter returns to find the school transformed. It’s time for the Tri-Wizard Tournament and with it, an introduction to Mad Eye Moody and a slew of new students from rival schools. Plagued by recurring nightmares, Harry finds himself caught in the middle of this dangerous game as he’s forced to compete in this deadly tournament that could spell the difference between life or death.
In essence, the film is split into two distinct parts. The first sees Harry and his friends deal with maturing feelings toward one another including love, jealousy and friendship. It’s here sprinklings of the old Harry Potter films shine and whether it be Ron dancing with Professor McGonagall or Hagrid finding a new love interest in Madame Maxime, the lighthearted humour and charm from the series remains an anchor, preventing the film from falling too hard into the darker themes explored later on.
The second part of Goblet of Fire tackles the aforementioned darker elements to this evolving story. With the threat of Voldemort looming ever nearer and Harry finding himself alone and vilified by the other students because of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Harry is faced with insurmountable odds to overcome. All of this leads to a climactic showdown where truths are revealed and everything is left wide open for the inevitable fight to come.
With the students getting older and reaching that testing age of 14, the complicated feelings our characters feel for one another is typified through the evolving relationship between Harry, Ron and Hermione. Between Ron becoming jealous of Hermione’s affection toward Viktor Krum or Harry’s fall-out with Ron over his name being spat out the goblet of fire, our trio are given a lot more to work with this year.
One of the more recognisable differences to Harry Potter this year comes from the musical score. With John Williams bowing out of orchestral duties, Patrick Doyle takes over for a far more moody soundtrack. The result is something that still stays true to the source material – using both Harry and Hedwig’s themes throughout the film – but also reinforcing Goblet’s journey toward a much darker tale being told.
Aesthetically, Goblet of Fire moves toward a much moodier colour palette and style this year too, with numerous sweeping camera movements and muted colours used to reinforce the task infront of Harry. While it may not be as impressively executed as Azkaban, with its distinct symbolic imagery or themes, Goblet Of Fire certainly holds its own with more mature themes brought to the fold. All of this, of course, leaving things wide open for the conflict ahead.
At times, Goblet of Fire does have a tendency to exagerrate or change its characters, and not always for the better. Despite beginning as a wise old wizard, Michael Gambon’s flamboyant portrayal of Albus Dumbledore, complete with the now famous “Did you put your name in the Goblet Of Fire” line, is a perfect example of the characters being changed from earlier iterations. Snape’s watered-down presence is another casualty here too while Albus Filch and Professor Flitwick move squarely across to comedic props used throughout the film. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is worth mentioning nonetheless.
While Goblet Of Fire fails to match its predecessor in terms of scope, themes and ideas, there’s enough here to make for a thoroughly enjoyable Potter film nonetheless. The Tri-Wizard tournament and evolving relationships for our characters is nicely written and although some of the convoluted plot ideas around the tournament itself aren’t always fleshed out in a compelling way, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable film and continuation of the Potter saga.