“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is definitely an odd movie for this group, as we tend to lean toward things that are a bit more obscure. I imagine that a lot of people are going to blast through this review with just a few sentences, as I think most of us have formed our opinions on this franchise long ago. However, even though Ashli probably picked this one b/c it was the only one streaming, she picked the right one to have a conversation about. It’s easier to talk about where these movies fit in with regard to the series as opposed to stand-alone (more on that in a bit), and Goblet of Fire’s place as the transition from children’s story to the more mature young adult themes gives it a special place in the series.
Just for starters, even if you don’t like the HP franchise, you can’t help but respect it. Very few movie franchises are consistently of a high quality. Just look at some superhero franchises. Spiderman 3 is just bad. X-Men: The Last Stand is an abomination. Blade Trinity…. Anyway, that could hit a soft spot for some here. Numerous franchises ebb and flow in quality, even when all the same people are involved. (Godfather? Matrix?) Somehow, HP has gone through multiple directors and screenwriters, yet in eight movies, the lowest RT score is a 79% (Order of the Phoenix). Say what you want about this franchise, but that is damn impressive. Near the end of its run, I was never nervous that I was going to waste my time going to an HP movie at midnight (not by my choice), b/c they were all good.
Goblet of Fire stands out as an important step in this franchise as it is the first one to not end in a necessarily happy way. In fact, for a “kids movie,” the ending is bleak as shit. Harry has successfully thwarted Voldemort in the first two entries of the series, but this meeting sees him barely escape with his life while also getting his friend Cedric killed. I might be wrong, but Cedric might be the first “good guy” killed in the HP universe. This was a pivotal moment for the franchise, proving that, sometimes, the good guys don’t win, they just live to fight another day. This would be a pretty run-of-the-mill series if we just followed the same formula from Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, but Goblet of Fire changes all that and launches us into the real story of the franchise.
Beyond that, Goblet of Fire is similar to other entries of the series in that it touches on more base emotional issues that would speak to a teenage audience. It’s a theme that is constantly touched on in the series: even though we’re dealing with a group of gifted wizard teenagers, they’re still typical kids. We have the subplot of Ron’s jealousy of Harry getting selected for the tournament and the awkward Ron/Hermione relationship beginning to take form. Ron gets the most “human” material this time around, which probably isn’t good as Rupert Grint is the weakest actor of the three main protagonists. The relationship stuff works pretty well, but the jealousy subplot feels a little forced given the overarching story and who Harry is in this world. Speaking of Harry, this is probably his weakest movie in the series. Daniel Radcliffe is not given a whole lot interesting to do this time around, giving the bulk of the spotlight in the down scenes to Ron & Hermione. There are other nice moments that are relatable to some, such as the level of embarrassment Ron has for his Yule Ball getup (I avoided anything like this in my youth; also, I still really hate the Yule Ball scene).
HP movies always have good setpieces, but Goblet of Fire’s are some of the weaker entrants into the series. The first Tournament trial with the dragons is a great opener, but the scale of the remaining two leave something to be desired. Likewise, the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort is one of the weaker final battles, but the exchange between Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Radcliffe is well-done as usual. This is the first movie in the series with Fiennes, and is big introduction to the series is both impressive and “terrifying” for a movie in this genre. Fiennes gets off some good lines and plays the intimidating all-powerful lord of darkness well.
All the HP movies are good, but Goblet of Fire is one of the more special entries. It ushered in a new tone and era for the series, a world where not everyone who should live happily ever after necessarily did. It definitely has its weaknesses in relation to the other movies, but it’s understandable why it’s considered in the upper echelon of HP movies.
+ Brings Harry Potter out of the “happily ever after” era into a more adult and interesting series
+ Ralph Fiennes is great in his Voldemort debut
+ Solid acting in the downtime captures typical teenage angst
- Ron heavy
- Setpieces leave something to be desired in the context of the series as a whole