Do not do so lightly! If chosen, there's no turning back. As from this moment, The Triwizard Tournament has begun!
Year four at Hogwarts for Harry Potter and his chums, and it's a time of change, chance and danger. The prestigious Triwizard Tournament is being hosted and the applecart is turned upside down when Harry, unqualified and underage, is selected by the Goblet of Fire to be one of Hogwarts' competitors. If the thought of competing in such a dangerous tournament wasn't scary enough, Harry also has the worry of finding a date for the Yule Ball to contend with!
The Prisoner of Azkaban set the marker for a darker, more grown up Potter picture, a high standard that Goblet of Fire, and new director Mike Newell, arguably had no hope of attaining. But it's not for lack of trying, and in fairness Newell and the team have managed well enough to blend the blackness that comes with the impending arrival of Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes), with the burgeoning ping of teenager hormones. There's an awful lot going on here. With the Triwizard Tournament comes two groups of exchange students to Hogwarts in the form of the glamorous girls of Beauxbatons Academy, and the hunky boys of Durmstrang Institute. The arrival of which sends Ron, Hermione and co into blushy flustered awakenings. The tournament itself (rightly) dominates much of the film, the lead up to it and the three challenges that the competitors have to face, with Harry's dragon face off a bona fide excellent piece of film. Then on to the fall out of the tournament where it gets real dark and the film and series lurch on to another level and set up the next installment a treat.
As is customary for a Potter film, there's also a number of new characters and replaced characters in the mix, while major story developments flit in and out of the narrative to the point you really have to pay attention completely. Of the new arrivals it's Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (Brendan Gleeson terrific) who is most telling and enjoyable, but tabloid scribe Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson) is something the film could have survived without. Yes it's a nice pop at the gutter press, but watching it now, would the time spent wasted on Skeeter not have been better served on the sadly under filmed Quidditch World Cup? Especially considering the build up to it is magnificent. Or at the very least some more Malfoy Senior, Sirius or Snape! But the disappointment felt there is offset some by the wonderful Yule Ball, where Newell is in his element gleefully dangling his charges through the joys and sorrows of awkward awakenings. It's a series highlight that's not to be missed.
A film of variable pace due to the makers trying to juggle so much, it's ultimately something of an up and down viewing experience. That said, Newell is able to dazzle the pre-teens with his set pieces, because the kiddies sure as hell will not understand the angst and hormonal issues present, while the rest plays out on adult terms. So something for everyone, then. It may not be successful as a whole, and newcomers dipping in for the first time get no guidance at all, but it's still a ripper of a ride for those who are into the films having not read the books. It's set up nicely for part 5, but pity poor David Yates in the directing chair for Order of the Phoenix, though, for that is one hell of a door stopper novel to try and condense down into an entertaining Potter movie! 7/10