How do you turn a 700+ page novel into a movie? Well, you either make a 4 hour movie or you cut, cut, cut and turn into a 2.5 hour movie. The filmmakers decided on the latter because there was no good splitting point in the novel to make GOF: Part I and GOF: Part II. What we end up with is the absolute core of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Gone is that side plot with Hermione forming S.P.E.W. and trying to bring freedom and equal rights to all house elves. Gone, actually, is any appearance of a house elf. So, no Dobby in this one despite the role he plays in the book. The early scenes of the novel dealing especially with the Quidditch World Cup are cut very short, nothing at the Dursleys, and we do not get to learn much about either Krum or Fleur.
What do we have, then? Harry starts out with the Weasley's as they go to the Quidditch World Cup. The match isn't shown (though the entrances are, so we know Krum is famous) and after we see the attack at the Q.W.C. by the Death Eaters and the Dark Mark being released in the air. I have to say that there was a serious sense of menace and fear and confusion during the attack. Very well done and shows hints of why the Death Eaters (followers of Voldemort) are that scary. From this moment we know things are changing. Year 4 for Harry, Ron, and Hermione is now beginning back at Hogwarts, but this year is going to be different. The Tri-Wizard Competition is being held at Hogwarts and each of three wizarding schools will have a champion competing for Eternal Glory. It is only open to those over the age of seventeen, however. The three champions are chosen: Krum, Fluer, and from Hogwarts - Cedric Diggory. But then the Goblet of Fire glows red once more and spits out a fourth name: Harry Potter. So, Harry must compete in this competition which has caused death in the past and Harry doesn't have the experience or the knowledge. Meanwhile he keeps having visions and dreams about the return of Voldemort and his scar is hurting.
This movie is far more streamlined than the book. School, Voldemort, Competition. That's it. Nearly everything extra is cut. And you know what? It works. Azkaban may have been a stronger movie, but Goblet of Fire is still far better than the first two movies. There is a real sense of darkness and menace to the film as we know that the series is just going to get darker. I didn't feel like anything was missing from the movie. All of the side stories which build the richness of the world would not have fit in the movie and would have killed the flow and tension of it. The only lack is that there is little or no development or information about Fleur or Krum, or even Cedric though a little bit more is given about him. We do get the little love interest of Harry for Cho Chang and the boredom of the Parvati twins at the ball is perfect. But the main story here is the Tri-Wizard Competition and Voldemort, and it works well.
After each Harry Potter movie I always wonder how they are possibly going to film the next one and have it work, but I look forward to it because the movie series is turning out to be quite a good one.