I tend to enjoy the Harry Potter films more than my little sister does, probably because I don't expect an entirely faithful adaptation of the books. I regard the films as completely separate entities from the books, in fact, I even totally DISREGARD the existences of the book when I'm watching the films. And that's why I usually compare the Harry Potter films with EACH OTHER instead of with the books.
Just to brief you peeps on what I thought about the three previous Harry Potter films before I proceed with the latest one.
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone = Came out just two weeks before Lord of the Rings, when my expectations for fantasy films were MUCH LOWER. It introduced me to the world of Harry Potter, and I could still remember the sense of wonder I felt when I first saw the likes of Hogwarts and Quidditch games put onscreen. Technically, it might not be that good of a movie, but it wins in terms of, well, freshness.
Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets = Not much improvement from the first film. Even regard it as a step backwards. Despite seeing it twice in the cinemas, I was disappointed with it. Moaning Myrtle was funny though.
Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban = A Harry Potter film after a one-year hiatus, and wasn't entirely anticipated after the disappointment with the previous film. Intense and versatile he may be, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black was a weird choice. But the film benefited from a change of directors (Chris Columbus who did the first two films was replaced by Alfonso Cuaron) . As Cuaron was more determined to inject his personal vision into his work, the entire atmosphere and visual style were rather different from the last two films.
And now, my thoughts on Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire:
Daniel Radcliffe had grown increasingly comfortable with his role as Harry Potter and he had ceased being the wooden kid he was in the first two flicks. While Emma Watson (Hermione rules) and Rupert Grint have already proven that they were good in the previous flicks, this film showed that both of them have developed a pretty good chemistry with Radcliffe. The scenes between them have grown really natural, and less 'stagey' (I stopped remembering that they were acting).
The rest of the ensemble cast is solid as ever (Alan Rickman as Snape = Godly. Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldermort = Badass... if only he has a nose).
This film is visually stunning, made even more stunning because unlike the previous films, these eye candies don't try to draw too much attention to themselves like previous films did. The focus was on the characters themselves instead of the latest wonders they have encountered, thus I ended up becoming increasingly attentive to the background or the settings, and then admiring them even more.
For me, the highlight of the film, besides the numerous impressive setpieces in the Tri-wizard Tournament, is the Yule Ball, as you watch both Harry and Ron undergoing all kinds of pain to get someone to go to the ball with them. As the characters grow, the Potter films become less cute and kiddy-ish.
Well, there's nothing much I can complain about this film unless I've truly wanted it to be more faithful to the book (Goblet of Fire is my personal favourite in the series). Okay, yeah, maybe Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) became a wee bit TOO intense compared to his counterpart in previous films (not the books), hell, it seemed out of character, I've expected him to be, well, calmer at the face of adversity. And yeah, my enjoyment of the the last 30 minutes of the film was lessened because my bladder was about to burst, but other than that, I still think it's a pretty good film that deserves the monstrous box-office grosses it is getting now (it's the fastest Harry Potter film to reach 200 million, and has the fourth highest opening of all-time, behind Spidey 2, SW Ep 3 and Shrek 2).
Harry Potter fans should just take into account that the films will NEVER be page-by-page, line-by-line adaptation of the books, and some stuff that work well in the books will never work in the film, so just enjoy the films for what they are.