Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire is the fourth film of the series based on the fourth book of the same name by J.K. Rowling and finds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) in their fourth year at Hogwarts. It's another enjoyable installment as the film strikes a good balance as the characters not only deal with the external forces working with the evil wizard Lord Voldemort but also the internal ones associated with growing up.
Goblet opens with Voldemort, a tiny misshapen creature at this point, growing in strength, which Harry sees in a dream. The next morning, Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley men attend the Quidditch World Cup. The event starts off as a joyous celebration but ends tragically when the campgrounds are destroyed by Voldemort's Death Eaters.
At Hogwarts, the children learn the school will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament, where one senior from three international magic schools compete. The Goblet of Fire chooses the competitors from those who have thrown their name in. They are Hogwarts' Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), Durmstrang Institute's Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski), and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic's Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy). The Cup also picks a fourth name: Harry Potter. Harry states he didn't enter his name, but many people don't believe him. The judges decide the Goblet must have had a reason and allow Harry to compete. The events are very dangerous involving dragons, merepeople, and a hedge maze and make for intense action sequences with seamless visual effects that don't distract from the moment.
There is other intrigue at the school as Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (Brendan Gleeson) has been installed as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He helps Harry, and someone on campus is brewing Polyjuice Potion.
As Goblet concludes the world has become a scarier, much more serious place. Voldemort (played with great menace by Ralph Fiennes) has grown in power, nowhere is safe as his agents are able to infiltrate anywhere, and standing against him and his people has deadly consequences.
Although hardcore Potter fanatics may differ, Steve Kloves does a very good job adapting the story, which could easily have been two movies considering the source. Amidst all the magic and action, he and director Mike Newell take time away from the adventure and allow scenes of growth between the three main characters, making them more believable and accessible for the audience. Roger Pratt and his team's cinematography looks great, doing a very fine job evoking the increasing darkness that permeates the story. The visual effects team creates magic of their own, particularly with Harry's contest against the dragon.
The three-disc set, two Blu-ray and one DVD, is housed inside a slipcase along with two trading cards, a small hardcover book dealing with sound and music. The 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer is presented with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio like the previous release. The video has strong colors, deep blacks, and very good textural details. The Yule Ball is an exquisite-looking gala. The CGI effects blend well with the real world images.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound is an upgrade. The audio moves between channels, such as when the Quidditch World Cup Portkey swirls the gang around. Directionality is also a plus. The Death Eater attack delivers great explosions that rattle the speakers and subwoofer. Dialogue is always clear and well balanced with the effects and composer Patrick Doyle's score.
On Disc 1 contains one Special Feature. James and Oliver Phelps, who play The Weasley Twins, host the In-Movie Experience (HD), a PiP track with the cast and crew discussing the film
Disc 2 continues the eight-hour documentary Creating the World of Harry Potter with "Part 4: Sound & Music" (HD, 54 min). Composers John Williams of the first three films, Patrick Doyle of this one, and Nicholas Cooper on the next two are the focal point and are joined by the sound designers, other crew members, and the cast. It's a very good piece that separates the music from the visuals to demonstrate on good the former is.
Richard Curtis conducts "Conversations with the Cast" (HD, 31 min) with Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson. Ben Shephard hosts two TV specials. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Behind the Magic" (SD, 49 min) finds him at Leavesden Studios interviewing the cast and crew while "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Some Animal Magic" (SD, 23 min) focuses on the film's animals and their caretakers. Created from the same interview sessions, three specials preview the film in different time increments: "Inside Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (SD, 44 min), "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Adventure Continues" (SD, 24 min), and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Dark Matters, New Master (SD, 13 min). The Special Features conclude on this disc with Deleted Scenes (HD, 10 min) and trailers for the movie and Potter-related products.
Disc 3 is a DVD. After choosing either English or France, there are four areas to choose from. Three allow access to games similar to the Triwizard Tournament Challenges that are played by choosing directions on the remote control. I was either terrible at them or they aren't very good. There are also making-of features about the Challenge sequences.
In the Dragon Arena, "Harry vs. the Horntail: The First Task" (6 min) examines the effects work for this sequence, and "Meet the Champions" (13 min) looks at the actors playing Harry's competition. Twilight fans will enjoy the time spent with Pattinson. In The Lake, one can see "In Too Deep: The Second Task" (10 min) as the effects team talks about creating underwater sequence.
The Maze includes an additional game "To the Graveyard and Back Challenge," but to explain it would reveal the end of the movie. The effects team speaks again about "The Maze: The Third Task" (7 min). "He Who Must Not Be Named" (11 min) is a great bit where all areas of production involved discuss the character's evolution.
Hogwarts Castle contains "Prepping for the Yule Ball" (9 min), another behind-the-scenes peek, and "Reflections on the Fourth Film" (14 min) from cast members, including those with small parts as classmates who appear throughout the film. This section also includes repeated material in standard definition with Additional Scenes (10 min), which are the same as the Deleted Scenes from the Blu-ray, and "Conversations with the Cast" (30 min).
While an enjoyable film and a very good presentation on Blu-ray, your needs will determine whether the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Ultimate Edition and all the goodies it comes with is right for you.