Wizards have Olympic events, too, and Harry Potter gets chucked in the middle of a few in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Hollywood already knew they had a winner with J.K. Rowling's bestselling books, and The Goblet of Fire wasn't about to escape their grip. Luckily, Rowling wasn't about to let them ride roughshod over her work ("Look, I don't care what test marketing says; we're not adding a hip-hop sidekick"), and she made sure the franchise stuck close to the book even if they did have to make a few changes. How, exactly? Let's take a look.
The fourth movie brought a new director, Mike Newell, who had to combine the look and feel of the two guys who came before him: sunny, upbeat Chris Columbus and much-less-sunny Alfonso Cuaron. Newell sticks more closely to Cuaron's gloom here, which lines up nicely with the melancholy book. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) returns, ruining Hogwart's big sporting event and threatening to end Harry's education in a really permanent way. Harry's buddy, Cedric Diggory (a non-sparkly Robert Pattinson)? Dead! Harry himself? Not ready for the big throwdown! Add to that a cocktail of blooming romance and rampaging hormones, and we feel Harry's painful growth into an adult. He has to stand on his feet as a man; an even harder job than normal since a gang of evil magicians are trying to kill him at the same time.
Newell puts all that at center stage, starting with the imagery itself. Like Cuaron's take, it's dark and glum in most of Harry's world. There are always tons of clouds in the sky, it rains a lot, and Hogwart's looks colder and danker than ever before. Yep, we're in England, folks. Things even stay grim during supposedly happy scenes, like the Quidditch World Cup match crashed by a gang of Deatheaters.
Harry himself (Daniel Radcliffe) looks out of his league for most of the film, and even when he's performing heroic deeds—like the various tasks in the Tri-Wizard's tournament—he's a long way from confident about them. But just like in the book, Newell surrenders that idea when dealing with the snazzier aspects of growing up. The big school dance, for instance, is sweet and a little awkward, but also a lot cozier looking than the rest of the movie. It looks like somewhere you'd actually like to be—not somewhere you'd run away from as quickly as humanly possible. So, true to the book, we get the fun parts of being a teenager as well as the nasty realities about putting on our big boy pants. Not as much fun as nasty, but enough to remind us of the joys of that age in life, too.
Movie audiences, sadly, won't stand for the eight-hour Totally Everything version, which means a lot of stuff needs to go. And some of those cuts make for a major detour from the book's themes.
Exhibit A: SPEW, the Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare, which Hermione sets up to help out their house elf friend Dobby. In the book, the society is all about social justice. Translation: just because you're a magical wizard, you shouldn't go treating other living beings like something you scraped off your shoe. The movie cuts the whole shebang out to save time—even dropping Dobby to cut back on those pricey visual effects. In the process, we lose the important realization that the Wonderful World of Wizards has some of the same problems as our world. And that, by the same token, we can slip into Voldemort's way of thinking much more easily than we'd like to admit. Gulp.
Another example? We don't see much of Harry's godfather Sirius Black here—just a freaky appearance in the fireplace, really. Harry doesn't talk to Sirius about his troubles like he does in the book; he doesn't share his fears and concerns. Basically, Harry just has fewer people to rely on. Plus, if we saw more of Sirius early on, we might feel his absence more toward the end, when Voldemort puts on his angry face and Harry has to face the big baddy all on his own.
Missing character #2 is Ron Weasley's brother Percy, who betrays the family in later books and generally acts like a first-class weasel in this one. In Goblet of Fire, Rowling spends a lot of time waxing poetic about trust and about how good people can sometimes do bad things by mistake. Percy's a prime example of that: he means well, he tries hard, but he ultimately backs the wrong side because he can't spot their sins. But we don't see any of that in the movie. We totally get why he's been cut—there's just too many characters and not enough spotlight time—but without him, both this film and the ones that follow lose a little bit of Rowling's sad-but-true message.
What do you think, Shmoopers? Did the movie do the book justice? Shmoop amongst yourselves.