Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh

Teenage wizards and witches learn that maturity isn't all it's cracked up to be in the fourth film adapted from J.K. Rowling's phenomenally popular series of young-adult novels. This book's daunting 734 pages were pared down to a relatively lean two and a half hours. As the new school semester approaches, 14-year-old Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is plagued by a recurring nightmare. In a creaky house near a cemetery, he overhears the dread dark lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes in disfiguring makeup) plotting with minion Wormtail (Timothy Spall) — who infiltrated Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry disguised as the hand-me-down familiar of Harry's friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) — and a shadowy third man. Meanwhile, Harry, Ron and Hermione (Emma Watson), the group's stubborn moral compass, join Ron's dad and senior schoolmate Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) for a last summer outing — a camping trip in the vast, enchanted tent city that grows up annually around the Quidditch World Cup. But a vicious ambush by Voldemort's long-absent Death Eaters sends the students scurrying back to the safety of Hogwarts, which has been selected to host the prestigious Tri-Wizard Tournament. Delegations from two other schools of wizardry — the French, all-girls Beauxbatons and the Slavic boys of Durmstrang — make their dramatic entrances, but only one student will represent each school. No one under the age of 17 may participate because of the dangerous nature of the three-part ordeal by fire (dragons), water (mer-monsters) and death incarnate, which begins in a menacing maze. The mystical goblet of fire selects three names from among the student volunteers — Diggory for Hogwarts, Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy) and Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) — and then adds an unheard-of fourth: Potter, who swears he never even considered entering, let alone figured out a way to bypass the age barrier Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) so sagely placed around the goblet. There's yet another new Defense Against Dark Arts professor, the exceedingly eccentric "Mad Eye" Moody (Brendan Gleeson), and between parsing his dream, dodging a nosy reporter (Miranda Richardson) and rising to the Tri-Wizard challenges, Harry comes up against his greatest challenge yet: Finding a date for the annual Yule Ball. The mix of adolescent angst and ever-darker adventures mark a turning point in the series, and U.K. director Mike Newell follows previous director Alfonso Cuarón's (HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN) lead. Inventive visuals and funny bits abound, but the film's gritty look and unsentimental characterizations — Harry, Hermione and Ron are far from golden teens — ominously foreshadow the truly wicked shape of things to come.