The people making the Harry Potter movies had an interesting task ahead of them when it came time for Goblet of Fire. This was the point in the book series where things started getting a bit darker... so that meant it time was for the series to graduate from PG to PG-13. The idea was, they had to make a more mature and darker Harry Potter film and pull it off well. Oh, and they had another new director. This time it's some guy named Mike Newell.
This is definitely a better adaption than Prisoner of Azkaban. That one certainly wasn't bad, but among various issues, it kind of felt like it was having a hard time transitioning. And the whole thing felt oddly trimmed and even a little rushed at times. This one certainly is not; at 157 minutes, it's actually the second longest movie in the entire series.
Let's get the early minutes out of the way first. Because while most of this movie is quite excellent, there is some horrendous editing/rushed storytelling early on. After the vision Harry has in the beginning (and that part is done well), the events of the Portkey and the Quidditch World Cup, up to the Death Eater raid happen all in a space of about under ten minutes. We don't even get the World Cup--instead we get an incredibly jarring transition out of it. For all the good this movie does later on, this sequence of events is horrendously adapted.
But after that, things go much better. The pacing is pretty good for a movie of its length, and it doesn't feel like they just cut and pasted the most important bits from the book here without regard for flow. As good as Cuaron was at visual set pieces, he just wasn't as good at directing overall. And while the Yule Ball section (which goes on for about 15-20 minutes) feels quite tedious, it's difficult to be bored otherwise.
The action scenes are quite well done here; the famous/infamous final act in particular stands out. They also kind of updated the underwater sequence; the creatures within (whatever they are, I forget) are more ferocious here than in the book, which works for making the sequence more compelling.
The cast is excellent, as per the usual. Aside from the normal standouts (Radcliffe, Watson, Rickman, Oldman), we get a couple new faces again. Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody) gets the most screen time out of them, and he does his role quite well. Ralph Fiennes also makes his introduction here; and while he got a bit more over-the-top at times in future movies, he's more appropriately menacing here. David Tennant is also in this one; he doesn't get much screen time, but he makes good use of it. Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) is also back after being gone in the previous movie, and his presence is welcome. I do kind of wish they had cast Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum better, but whatever. Robert Pattinson's (Cedric) presence is a bit jarring (given how most feel about the Twilight series), but he does fine enough here.
Mike Newell is probably the most overlooked director of the Harry Potter series. He only got one movie, but for the most part he delivered. He gave us the more darker and mature movie that was more appropriate for this installment. And really, he helped transition the series at a pivotal point. David Yates really just had to pick up where Newell left off. As such, this movie--even if it has a couple issues--is arguably one of the better ones in the series.