Harry moves in his fourth year at Hogwarts and must now go through the Tri Wizard Tournament and needs to successfully complete 3 tasks in order to get the Tri Wizard cup. The series again changes directors and the fourth film was directed by Mike Newell who mostly does an okay job with the material but sometimes his presence as a director is too noticeable and his style too often does not fit in this world.
The fourth film is also the film that does the most changes from book to film in drastic ways. It’s understandable, since the book is huge, but the movie still could have done a better job in deciding what to keep and what to throw away.
But the chemistry between the characters is still intact. Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are still fantastic as these characters and their friendship is one of the best friendships ever brought to screen. These actors feel so natural with one another that they’re perfect as these characters.
The film starts off in a sort of dreamlike sequence where we follow Frank Bryce, who is killed by Voldemort after he overhears a conversation with Peter Pettigrew and an other man. Harry then awakens in the Burrow, a major change from the book. The movie basically glosses the first hundred pages of the novel by skipping the Dursley’s and the Wesley’s entering their chimney to rescue Harry. They meet Cedric Diggory (played by Robert Pattinson, who is pretty good as Cedric) and his father Amos and they travel to the Quidditch World cup with a Portkey.
They arrive at the Quidditch World Cup (which we don’t even see) and a time later after the match Death Eaters attack the camp. The group is forced to split and Harry witnesses a Death Eater make the Dark Mark. In the book, Winky the House Elf is the prime suspect since she was later discover at the scene and the real identity of the one who made the mark is hidden under an invisibility cloak. He is not revealed until much later.
Back at Hogwarts, Dumbledore introduces Mad Eye Moody played superbly by Brandon Gleeson, as the new Defense of the Dark Arts Teacher. He also announces that the school will hold the legendary event of the Tri Wizard Cup where three different schools will compete and that only people over seventeen are aloud to join.
The scene where we first meet the two schools are so bad and cringe-worthy and it doesn’t feel like Harry Potter at all. It feels like some teenage romance bullshit that takes you out of the movie completely. The girls do this awkward dance where they let out birds from their dresses and it just doesn’t work. And not only that then the guys arrive and show off their acrobat’s skills and you’re just left wondering what is the point of this? Mike Newell’s style just didn’t work for this movie in my opinion. Just the haircuts are horrible. Even Daniel Radcliffe said that his hair looked terrible in this film and it would be the last time he would have long hair.
The champions are then selected by the goblet of fire: Victor Krum, Flour Delacour, Cedric Diggory and Harry Potter. I also hate Dumbledore’s reaction in this scene. In the book, it is clearly stated that he remains calm and asks Harry if he put his name in the cup, because he knows that Harry would never do that. One more reason why I liked Richard Harris a lot more in the role. He was a lot calmer and captured Dumbledore’s personality better.
The teachers flabbergasted, have no choice but to let Potter compete in the tournament. This makes Ron Weasley jealous of Harry and the friends are at odds for the first time. While this relationship in the books is a lot more developed then in the film, the director does not a bad job on showing why they are at odds with one another, leaving Hermione at crossroads.
We also get only one cameo of Gary Oldman as Sirius Black. His role in Goblet of Fire is completely omitted. We only see him again in Order of the Phoenix, so when the big moment comes it looses its impact since we don’t see him a lot.
For the first task, the champions must retrieve a golden egg from a dragon. Rita Skeeter is also introduced as an annoying reporter but she is only seen in one scene and never referenced again. In the book, she constantly reveals secret information in newspapers until we discover that she is an animagus disguised as a beetle! None of this is mention in the movie.
Everyone successfully retrieves the egg by summoning his broomstick and Harry narrowly defeats his dragon. The action scene is pretty ridiculous. Harry flies off to the school and destroys part of Hogwarts in the process and kills the dragon (J.K. doesn’t condone the killing or abuse of magical creatures).
Ron comes around and becomes his friend again now that he sees that the Tri Wizard Tournament is incredibly dangerous and only a fool would put his name in the cup.
During a walk with Ron, Hermione and Hagrid, Harry finds Barty Crouch Sr. Dead in the woods. He is then sent to Dumbledore’s office where he finds a Pensieve, which holds Dumbledore’s memories. He witnesses a trial in which Igor Karkaroff who confessed to the minister of magic the names of other Death Eaters who worked with Voldemort. He also names Severus Snape as one, but Dumbledore defends him. He then names Barty Crouch Jr. which devastates Crouch. After leaving the Pensieve, Harry concludes that Crouch Jr. is the man that he has been seeing in his dreams.
Also, most of the classes are not shown. We only get one class with Mad Eye Moody that demonstrates us the three curses, exposition for what happens at the end of the movie. But that’s about it. There are no other classes in this film. No Trelawney. No Herborlogy. Nothing. It’s like Hogwarts magically ceases to be a school in this movie.
We also get the Yule Ball, which is just like in the book, but in the film doesn’t feel like an actual ball that would take place at Hogwarts. It doesn’t translate as well on film. The music is off and it feels so awkward too. Ron gets his ugly robe from his mom and that offers some nice tone of levity to the film but the ball just doesn’t seem like it belongs at Hogwarts and it feels Hollywoodize. Too much time is spent on the high school romance which goes in contrast with the dark tasks take place during. It really feels unimportant to the overall story of the series.
We now arrive at the second task, where they must find a way to breathe an hour underwater. The movie glosses over the house-elves, which have a huge presence in the book. Dobby is in the book and Winky is in it as well, but they are nowhere to be find in this movie. Winky does not exist in the movie universe and she is what propels Hermione to start S.P.E.W. in order to help House Elves in dire need, which made her even more likeable. Also, Dobby is the one that gives Harry the Gillyweed in the book. Harry studies all night and Dobby arrives at the last minute with Gillyweed. In the movie Neville gives it to him, which makes sense because of who he is.
The champions must save the people that they love the most and recover them under an hour. Harry swims to the heart of the lake (with his glasses, mind you) and saves Ron and Flour’s daughter since Flour is attacked by the mermaids of the lake, which are really well designed and are actually frightening.
Now on to the third task: the labyrinth. While the book Harry faces off against creatures and riddles, in the film it is much more simplistic and must face off against the other champions. This change actually works better in the adaptation since it turns the finale almost into dark horror film.
Cedric and Harry end up the last remaining ones in the maze after harry decides to save him and they find the Tri Wizard Cup and decide to grab it together, just when they are transported by a Portkey to a graveyard. Wormtail appears, with a baby Voldemort and kills Cedric. Wormtail imprisons Harry against the statue of the grave of Voldemort father. Wormtail then performs a ritual and brings Voldemort back.
Ralph Fiennes was the perfect casting choice for Voldemort. He was menacing, scary and looked snakelike. He is one of the best villains of all time and in my opinion steals this entire film.
Now that Voldemort has risen again, he demands that Harry fights him in a duel in front of his Death Eaters, which have come back now that their master has returned.
Voldemort does the killing curse while Harry tries the Expelliarmus charm and both beams connect. The two battle and a green beam bursts out of their wands as the spirits of the people that Tom Riddle has murdered, including those of his mother and father and Cedric who asks Harry to bring his body back to his father. This occurrence offers Harry a chance to escape by using the Portkey and bringing Cedric’s body back to Hogwarts. The audience is in shock and Amos’s father cries the loss of his son, while Mad Eye brings Harry back to the castle grounds to interrogate him about what he has witness.
Moody mistakenly blows his cover when he asks Harry if they we’re others in the graveyard, even though Harry has never said that’s where he was. Moody then tries to kill Harry, only to be blasted and saved by Dumbledore, Severus Snape and Minerva.
They discover that Crouch Jr. was using Polyjuice Potion to impersonate Moody while the real Alastor was locked in a magical trunk. Crouch Jr. is locked up in Azkaban, a memorial is taken place for Cedric (Dumbeldore reveals to the students that Voldemort killed him, although the minster is against this) and the two schools leave Hogwarts.
Harry reveals to Dumbledore that he saw his parents in the graveyard, to which he refers to as “Priori Incantatem,” and although his parents appeared from the wand, no spell can bring back someone from the dead.
Overall, this adaptation has a lot of pros and cons. It’s entertaining and a decent film and the acting is still strong, but the style of the director often times makes this film feel like it is not part of the Harry Potter saga. It leaves a lot of stuff out that should have been in but keeps some stuff that should have been left out (the teenage romance for one). But the introduction of Voldemort and the dark ending saves this movie and it does a masterful job of foreshadowing the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort.