The fourth year begins with what appears to be a nightmare of Harry's, involving Wormtail (Timothy Spall) speaking to a raspy voice in a chair, a mysterious stranger doing the same, seemingly plotting, and the death of some random caretaker. He also wakes up with his scar hurting, which can only mean bad news.
Putting that on hold, for a time, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) head with Ron's family to the Quidditch World Cup. There, a disturbance takes place, involving dark, cloaked figures reigning chaos on the camp sites. Eventually, the Dark Mark is cast; a sure sign that the Dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is well on his way.
When school begins this time around, Hogwarts ends up playing host to wizarding schools Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. The purpose being that an event called the Triwizard Tournament will be taking place there over the next year. In order to enter, one must be over 17, and must write their name and school on a piece of parchment, place it into the Goblet of Fire, and the champions are chosen at random - one representative from each school.
However, when Harry's name impossibly comes up as a fourth champion, he finds himself facing much more dangerous obstacles than he's yet used to. Because of this, the conclusion is draw that someone, somehow entered Harry's name into the tournament with intent to do him serious harm.
Adding to the cast are the other Triwizard champions, Fleur DeLacour (Clémence Poésy) of Beauxbatons, Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) of Durmstrang, and Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) of Hogwarts. None of which have what you'd call "major roles", but they do well with what they're given. Yes, even the soon-to-be sparkly vampire.
The biggest treat about this movie is the further advancement of the series' visual effects. The movie does a very good job at bringing us deeper into the magical world by making us feel it a bit more here than we have quite yet. The older films all show very slight improvements with their CG, but I found 'Goblet of Fire' to not only succeed the previous films at CG, but overall atmosphere. And it's because of this, that the let-downs are so much more harsh.
As far as an adaptation goes, this misses out on quite a lot of opportunity for fan service. It's also the first time the audience is pretty much made to accept that there are significant chunks of the original story missing. I'm happy to say, for myself, that I was able to manage that expectation quite well... but it doesn't mean the movie didn't cut out stuff I REALLY wanted to see on the big screen.
COMPARING THE BOOK
As mentioned previously, yes, this is the first of the stories one must expect things to be cut from the movie. But it's interesting to see just how much was actually chopped, while it still runs over 2 and a half hours. After this, if you can't accept the edits for the future films, it might mark your tipping point to the "books were better" crowd. Although, I suppose that crowd includes most people who have read the series quite easily, including myself. But I have to admit the movies are certainly not without their charm.
Getting into the differences, perhaps the foremost thing to talk about is that there's actually a whole subplot going on in the background of the main story. In this, Hermione starts a movement for the liberation of house elves called S.P.E.W. (The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare), after seeing how they are terribly mistreated, and in a very big way, slaves. The thing is, the house elves thrive on being of service, and without that purpose in their lives, they are known to go mad. If you like 'Rick & Morty', they could very well be compared to the Meseeks. This is to such an extent that the idea of liberation and freedom, frankly, disturbs and disgusts the elves. This also brings Dobby back into the story, as he's free and happy, but generally regarded by others as a sort of nutter.
Going into the movie, you pretty much had to expect them to ditch that story for time. But it is a way to show Hermione's character development in a big way. It's the first time she really and truly and stubbornly fights for something, and up until now, she's kinda just been the brains of the outfit.
There's another bit of a subplot involving Hagrid, who is still the Care of Magical Creatures professor, raising "blast-ended skrewts". It kind of serves as the dark humour of the story, as they're such horrible creatures, yet Hagrid takes good care and babies them. It all builds up to something Harry runs into in the final challenge. Which brings me to my next point.
There were two things I very much wanted to see on the big screen, but never got the chance to, and they still bother me to this day. First off, we have the Quidditch World Cup. There's a whole chapter on it where it describes the game in pretty good detail. It's fairly short-lived, but exciting nonetheless. The movie goes as far as to build you up to the very beginning of the match and suddenly cut to the Weasley's campsite.
Secondly, the final task is done completely different in the movie. In the film, the challenge had a bit of a deeper meaning in that it was about being able to not "lose yourself". The challenge itself ends up being the obstacle. In the book, however, Harry runs into a blast-ended skrewt, a boggart in the form of a dementor, strange mist that turns the whole world upside down for a few seconds, and of course a Sphinx with a riddle, who most readers of the book missed in the movie. Oh, and that Sphinx leads Harry right to a giant spider. The book was far more interesting in that regard. I guess I get what the movie was trying to do, and it does work for the story... but dammit, given how good the visuals were in the movie, it all would have been awesome to see and NONE of it is there.
The movie did okay with adapting a few things though, and I daresay making a few adjustments better. For example the second task was done quite well as far as adaptation goes, as was the climactic scene in the graveyard. However, there are little changes that work in favor of characters like Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) who has great development throughout the books, but a lot of the movies put him further into the background. In both movie and book, we get a glimpse into Neville's painful history in which his parents were horribly tortured by Death Eaters (Voldemort supporters). But in the movie, he also helps Harry with the second task where Dobby does in the book, and makes an appearance after having a great time at the Yule Ball, likely his first great time ever, really. They may be subtle, but it's nice that the movie gives him that recognition as not just a "confused loser boy".
Some may have been taken aback by the disappearance of Ludo Bagman, head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports. But, if I'm honest, the movie does a pretty good job getting the appropriate info across without the need for the character. The book gives him a bit of depth as well, so it may have added a lot of extra unnecessary time to it all.
Other bits missing include a whole background mystery on the disappearance of a woman named Bertha Jorkins, and a bit more on the Reeta Skeeter side of things, where we discover an interesting character trait about her in the book that is never once brought up in the movie.
A lot of the changes for the movie work all right, but a lot seemed unnecessarily switched as well. Why not have given Hermione the powder blue dress in the book instead of the baby pink one, for instance? Not that big a deal, sure, but it's noticeable enough. Or better yet, Harry's communication with Serius, which is a big chunk of the book, but it gets cut short in the film.
A good way to sum up how to feel about the series now is a line that Hermione utters at the end of the movie - "everything's gonna change now, isn't it?". And in the words of Harry that follow, I say "Yes..." (that was actually a kinda cringe-worthy scene to watch, but yeah, the changes from the books are gonna be significant from here on in!)