With the fourth film, we find an expanded universe. Harry and the Weasley family are off to watch the Quidditch World Cup. This is really the first view the films have given us of Quidditch beyond being a school sport. Much like an international football, people wear the colors and logos of their favorite teams.
While celebrating the game in their camp (the tents look small, but like Doctor Who’s TARDIS are much bigger inside), the fans are attacked by Death Eaters. Returning to Hogwarts, Harry is beset by nightmares of Voldemort trying to return. He also meets the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher, “Mad Eye” Moody. Moody lost one of his eyes, and instead of an eyepatch, he has a rather “twitchy” false eye. Moody was an Auror (kind of a soldier/police officer of the wizard world). Now he is a paranoid and rough guy.
This is set against the backdrop of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. This event brings together the three Wizarding Schools Durmstrang, Beauxbatons and Hogwarts. There is a champion chosen from each school who then compete in tasks of great risk.
Initially, three students are chosen from the magical Tri-Wizard Cup…but this time, a fourth name flies forward…Harry Potter. This causes great controversy, as Harry is too young to participate. It also causes friction between Harry and Ron.
The Goblet of Fire brings in a new Director, Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Four Weddings & a Funeral, and Enchanted April). The films were following the books, introducing elements like young romance. Newell is a strong director, though the film feels more like it is trying to fit into a franchise mold, rather than the previous films more director fueled identity. This is not a bad thing, tonal changes make sense between these films, and just as with the books, much of the audience was growing up with the stories.
Visually, the film is strong. They have found more of a balance between what is necessary for the story and experiencing the wonderful magical world, so to speak. This film leaves out the somewhat large subplot of the S.P.E.W. organization Hermione creates in her attempt to set House Elves free. This turns out to be a wise move that allows the film to feel more focused.
It is a bit disappointing that they leave some of the Sirius Black moments out of the film, as we never get the opportunity to see Harry and his Godfather’s bond. The child actors in the films are starting to grow into their roles, but this marks a turn for Harry in which he becomes, at times, irritatingly whiny.
The effects are quite good. There is a rather spectacular chase through the air involving Harry and a Dragon. The CGI is a continual improvement for the series.
The Goblet of Fire is largely fun, with some decent twists and turns. It is not quite as strong as the previous film. but does provide plenty of entertainment value.