Plot: What’s it about?
As the world of Harry Potter entered the fourth year, the books were already a long-standing thing of the past. The first came out in 1998 and by the time that the movie version of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” hit theaters, the sixth book had just come out (“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”). It’s quite a well-known fact that the first two, and to a lesser extent the third, were pure child’s play. The first two movies were brought to the screen not missing so much as a semicolon and the third, though more artistic in nature, was very loyal to the novel. That’s not to say that the “Harry Potter” movies don’t pay homage to the pages that brought them to life, but as the books became longer and more complex, it’s understandable that there would have to be certain things that never saw the screen. Of note, the novel “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as the second most influential novel of the past 25 years (coming in first was Cormack McCarthy’s “The Road” if you were wondering). This is the fourth year for Harry and his friends, the dead middle of the series. Things change. We see Lord Voldemort for the first time. A student dies. This is “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is anxious to start his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry. His best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have always been there for him and as Harry makes his way to Ron’s house, they learn that the Quidditch World Cup is happening. As it turns out, they’ve got seats for what is unquestionably the biggest event of the Wizarding World. As their fourth year starts, we see that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has now assumed human form and is still dead set on his plan to get rid of Harry Potter. And, as fate would have it, for the first time in over a hundred years, there will be a year long competition between Hogwarts and two other schools. This is a once in a lifetime event for the students as they get to pit their skills against those from around the world. By chance, Harry is entered in the tournament (each school was supposed to only have one contestant) and is forced, by magical law, to compete. With Harry balancing his hormones, school, the tournament and trying to evade the “Dark Lord” will he manage to see the end of the school year?
As mentioned above, there’s so much that happens in the last four “Harry Potter” books, that it’s literally impossible to try and condense it into a paragraph. This book/movie is where the movies took a turn for the darker, and that trend would continue in the forthcoming books and films. By this movie, the fourth in the series, it’s very clear that the cast has become very immersed in their roles, they’re comfortable with their characters and with the movies being such a financial success, the bar was set pretty high. Each year has a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and this is no exception. Alastair “Mad Eye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson) is one of the more colorful characters in the “Harry Potter” books and movies and the part is played to perfection by Gleeson. The rest of the ensemble cast is back and though the main focus is on Harry, Ron and Hermione we also do get a peek at Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) who would make more of a name for himself as Edward in the “Twilight” movies. Does this movie have it all? Yes. Yes it does.
Video: How does it look?
Like the other installments in the “Harry Potter” series, this is shown in a 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer that really showcases all that’s going on at Hogwarts. There’s a significant amount of CGI effects in this movie because, you know, dragons aren’t real! Colors are very bright, take for example the crimson in the Gryffindor robes. The detail in the dragons scales, the intricate scars on Moody’s face. Outstanding. Take a look around the interior of the school, the paintings move, and you can see so much more detail than in the standard DVD of this movie. While I think this is on par with the last Blu-ray, I want to say that this looks a bit better. Then again, it’s probably a placebo effect telling me that something newer is somehow better (not always the case). Still, die-hard ‘Potter’ fans will snatch this up without a second thought as it does look amazing.
Audio: How does it sound?
Unlike the previous Blu-ray, this new “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” does feature a new DTS HD Master audio mix (the previous Blu-ray contained a Dolby TrueHD mix) that sounds fantastic. A good portion of the final act features some of the most robust sound I’ve heard out of a “Harry Potter” movie. The LFE become very involved and the surround effects really give new life to the soundtrack. Take the ending sequence where Harry and Voldemort’s wands meet. The sound emanating out of the speakers makes you feel like you’re in the graveyard with them. Dialogue is very sharp and though some of the actors have some pretty thick English accents, it’s no fault of the audio mix. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” sounds fantastic, as expected.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As with the other “Ultimate Collector’s Editions” in the series, we’ve come to expect a lot for our purchase. And we should, as I’m assuming that most everyone has already purchased this on Blu-ray. So what’s in this set to entice you to buy it again? Let’s find out. The big draw of all of these new editions is the “Creating the World of ‘Harry Potter'” documentaries and we start this fourth installment with the “Sound and Music”. We get some interviews with the cast and crew about the music and its intended effect on the movie in question. And I might add that these interviews are all new, so you’ll see samples from all of the first six “Potter” films. We also get the “In-Movie Experience” which is brought to this Blu-ray courtesy of the original HD-DVD. This is hosted by the Phelps twins (Fred and George in the films) and they make for a pretty entertaining, albeit long, track. We then go into “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Behind the Magic” as we get a behind the scenes look at the sets. We see Leavesden studio, where the majority of the movies are filmed as well as a look at some of the makeup that the actors go through. Moving right along we then go to “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Adventure Continues” which is nearly a half hour of the cast and crew promoting the new film and patting themselves on the back. Next up we find “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Dark Matters, New Masters” as we get a few more tidbits from the film and its focus on Voldemort and the increasingly dark nature of the films. We also get a few deleted scenes as well as a trailer in HD.
We then move onto the next disc which is a standard DVD. Those who have had this disc in the past will be familiar with all of the extras, but while we’re on a roll we’ll cover them here. We get another one of these strange DVD-ROM based games this time you have to use the arrow keys on your remote to navigate yourself through the Triwizard Tournament. We get a look at the dragon in “Harry vs. the Horntail: The First Tasl” how it was created and its inspiration from the novel. “Meet the Champions” shows us a look at the representatives from the two other schools as well as the other Hogwarts champion (Cedric Diggory – Robert Pattinson). “In Too Deep: The Second Task” we get a look at the underwater portion concerning the second task and the visual effects that were used to make it a reality. We also get a few other games like “To the Graveyard and Back”, “The Lake Challenge”, “The Maze Challenge.” The third and final task gets its own featurette as well with “The Maze: The Third Task” as we see how the maze was created and the additional effects that were used to make it happen. The big deal in this movie is that we finally see Lord Voldemort as a real person and “He Who Must Not Be Named” in which we see Harry’s nemesis and the actor who portrays him (Ralph Fiennes). “Preparing for the Yule Ball” shows us the costumes of their winter formal and “Conversations with the Cast” is a more in-depth chat with the stars led by Richard Curtis. Finally “Reflections on the Fourth Film” the actors discuss their experiences on the set of this film as they look back. As with the first two “Ultimate Collector’s Editions” there’s a book with some behind the scenes pictures, two more trading cards (Ron Weasley and “Mad Eye” Moody) and some 3-D style of packaging.