Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
Harry finds himself mysteriously selected as an under-aged competitor in a dangerous tournament between three schools of magic.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Harry Potter is more than everyone's favorite boy wizard -- he's a cultural phenomenon of unmatched proportions. The original book series by J. K. Rowling has sold over 325 million copies worldwide, spawning the film series, at least five video games and over 400 other Harry Potter-branded products. The film franchise itself ranks as highest grossing book-to-film series of all time, having earned (as of this writing) $3.5 billion worldwide, beating even The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (which has grossed $2.9 billion). If that's not magic, I don't know what is.
This fourth film in the series finds Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) inadvertently selected to be a competitor in the Tri-Wizard tournament, a dangerous competition usually reserved for older students. Challengers arrive from other academies across the globe, while budding love seems to spring up at every turn, with Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) all stumbling through the awkwardness of adolescence to sweet and sympathy-inducing results. But pulsing in the background is the ever-felt presence of evil on the rise. Conspirators have finally manipulated events to re-open the world to Voldemort -- a staple, unseen villain in the series, responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents and the scar across his forehead.
As always, the most engaging aspect of this fourth film in the series is the absolute pitch-perfect casting of each character. The actors all bring their own personalities to the table and deliver performances that capture the nuances and mild complexity of well-developed children's book characters. The three teenage leads ground themselves in realistic emotions, despite all of the underlying magical shenanigans. Each one rings true as a teen lost in a world where they're unable to express their feelings for fear of rejection. The supporting cast is also top notch, although most of the players appear to hit one note in the plot before being whisked off into the background. For people who haven't seen the other films, the barrage of literally hundreds of characters may be daunting, as the pace of the film doesn't leave much room for introductions or recaps.
Thematically, the kids at Hogwarts have certainly grown up. There's a cynicism and foreboding doom hovering over every head, which really helps to build pressure in the plot. Voldemort is such an impending black hole in every character's life that his eventual appearance is seeped with an impressive sense of doom. Of course, the excellent Ralph Fiennes has a big hand in this, managing to craft a fierce hatred behind his bulging eyes.
Overall, I enjoyed the dark tone of this film -- it certainly makes the series a bit more accessible for adult audiences. But like Prisoner of Azkaban, it doesn't mesh perfectly with the film's more kiddie-fare elements. For every tense moment where Harry fights a dragon or a swarm of underwater creatures, there's a counter-moment with comical glimpses of image-shifting badges, colorful smoke trails, and slapstick consequences to the misuse of magic. I understand these are key components of this fictional universe and fan favorite scenes from the books, but the result is a film that feels conflicted about its identity. It retains the things that made the earlier installments soft and whimsical, but adds in so much darkness that there seem to be two completely different tones fighting for dominance.
Having said that, I loved the Tri-Wizard tournament scenes (the horntail, the demonic mermaids, the hedge maze), quieter developments with Harry's awkward pursuit of love, and the sudden encounter with Voldemort. I was enthralled when Harry was put through the paces, and I found myself leaning forward whenever the film drifted away from dances, popularity contests, and high school antics. There's a kinetic energy to the emotionally and physically harsh moments, and happily for me, these are more prevalent in 'Goblet of Fire' than ever before.
In short, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favorite installment in the series -- there are some amazing scenes here that truly thrilled me. And while I found the film's inconsistent themes and lack of focus distracting at times, fans of the series will likely vibrate in their seats at every turn as they enjoy its particular blend of darkness and whimsy.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire comes with a dual-layered UHD66 Disc, a Blu-ray Disc of the film, and a second Blu-ray Disc with all of the Bonus Materials. The Blu-rays are Region A Locked. There is an insert for a Digital HD copy as well. The discs are housed in a hard, black plastic case where two of the three discs are stacked on top of each other. There is a cardboard sleeve, too.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire spills onto 4K UHD with a 2160p transfer and HDR encode. Simply put, it looks magnificent and dare I say the best since it was released on the big screen, if not better. This is the 4th film of the film series and the big start of the major rivalry between Harry and Voldemort. Not only that, but this is where the kids start to become adults, which coincide with the visuals here. When the students from other wizarding schools arrive, the colors are warm and vibrant all around, but when the essence of he who will not be named shows up, the colors quickly drown out and the color palette turns much colder into a decaying set piece. It's quite brilliant really.
Take a look at the wonderful, bright light blue dresses the all-girl's school shows up in. It really brightens up the screen and almost matches the smoke and elixir from the tournament picker, which showcases all the different shades of that mysterious blue. The yellows and red really do stand out here too with the different uniforms on and are not as subdued as they were in Azkaban. Other brightly lit exteriors showcase great greens and blues, and even reds and golds in varying degrees of brightness to give the most realistic color scheme.
When things turn to a darker and more sinister tone, the color scheme enhances the greens and almost purple like color when evil is around. These colors are striking to say the least and have a great magical element to it as the wand spells fly through the air. Detail is also excellent here and has a great upgrade from previous releases. The dragon that protects the egg in the tournament looks amazing with it's horns, scales, and wounds all over its body. The level of detail in the dragon from CGI is outstanding and never turns soft at all. The fire that shoots from its mouth looks fantastic as well and never pixelates or goes blurry.
The hedge maze also shows quite a bit of detail with all of the different shrubs and leafs in the background, too. The students are starting to show more facial hair, which shows up nicely in closeups as well as their longer and messier head hairs that seem to go in all directions. Newcomer Mad Eye Moody looks great here as well with all of his scars, wrinkles and texture fake eye. Background items look equally sharp and vivid. Black levels are deep and inky at all times and skin tones are very natural. Lastly, there are no issues with any banding, aliasing, and video noise, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This release comes with a great DTS:X audio mix and delivers all of the goods in the sound department. The big overall arc in this film is the event called the Tri-Wizard tournament, which brings other wizarding schools to Hogwarts with tons of contests and games. Needless to say, this paves the way for tons of audio endeavors. One of the big scenes is with a big dragon, which the overhead speakers pick up perfectly.
You can hear the dragon flying around over head, whip its tail around the room and breath fire with much heft and bass. It definitely sounds like something rather large is flying around in your viewing room. Other ambient noises of rocks falling, people cheering and screaming, and other spells being cast can be heard in the rear speakers and are just as robust and loud as the big sound effects happening, fully immersing you into this magical, yet chaotic set of games. The school dance also lights up the speakers with music and the full crowd talking and laughing, and has a great reverb of being inside a big room with all the right dynamics. It's truly remarkable.
The bass brings heft that rattles and rumbles its way through the film without crossing into rocky territory. The score also adds to the dramatic elements as well as the suspenseful moments of each scene without drowning out any other sound. Lastly, the dialogue is always clear and easy to follow along with, free of all pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fun film in the series, but with a dark turn. On one hand, it shows the kids turning into adults, taking notice of the ones they love and like with some genuine coming-of-age moments. On the other hand, people die and Harry finds out first hand the serious evil of Voldemort and what he has to do. It's like a last hurrah before things get very serious in the Harry Potter world and it was handled flawlessly. The 4K UHD transfer with HDR enhances every color and detail from top to bottom, which makes it perhaps the best this film has ever looked and heard. There are no new extras here, but all of the previous bonus features from the Ultimate Edition are imported here on the Blu-ray Disc. Of course, this comes Highly Recommended!
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