Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) must overcome a deadly dragon, fierce water demons and an enchanted maze only to find himself in the cruel grasp of He Who Must Not Be Named.

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Childhood comes to an abrupt halt with Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire, the fourth instalment in the immensely popular series of novels by J K Rowling. Directed by Mike Newell of Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Now fourteen, Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe, suffers from nightmares foretelling danger. With friends, Ron and Hermione – Rupert Grint and Emma Watson – he attends the wizard world's favourite competition, the Quidditch World Cup, which is ruined by the appearance of the Death Eaters – followers of evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). At Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Professor Dumbedore (Michael Gambon) announces that the school will host the Tri Wizard tournament. Only students over the age of 17 can enter, due to the life-threatening nature of the three tasks. Somehow Harry Potter is also chosen, along with three other contestants, including popular Hogwarts student, Cedric Diggory (Robert Patterson). Concerned for Harry's safety, Dumbledore asks the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson), to keep his magical eye on Harry. The four students must outwit fire-breathing dragons, rescue their loved ones from the black sea and master a terrifying labyrinth if they want to win. Inevitably Harry must contend with his arch-enemy, but seems to be more nervous about asking Cho Chang (Katie Leung) to the Yule Ball.

Chris Columbus directed the first two films, followed by a much more tense adaptation from Alfonso Cauron, with the Prisoner of Azkaban, but it is Mike Newell, the first British director, who seems to get the best performances and the most cohesive result. It's not that the previous films weren't effective, but they do have a more straightforward storyline. In them, Harry is joined by Ron and Hermione on various 'kids own' style adventures. Newell was fortunate to direct Goblet Of Fire, as it's one of the more remarkable novels in the series. It marks a significant change for Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione. Now teenagers, they are for the first time aware of their attraction to one another. There's more at stake here than monsters and evil lords – there's friendship, battles of will and the pain of what to wear to the school formal. Plus the three young actors have matured as performers.

There's also excellent performances from the adults, especially Brendan Gleeson as Mad Eye Moody – who's wandering blue eye is truly disconcerting. Also effective, is Steve Kloves' Goblet Of Fire script, which this time concentrates less on the trio's friendship – we've seen this before – and more on Harry's personal battles. Harry must ask a girl to a school dance, compete for the tri wizard cup, and battle his arch enemy – all on his own. In short he's growing up and that period of transition is interesting to watch in any film, no matter what the genre. It's also the first time that he realises that adults, even his hero, Professor Dumbledore, can be fallible.

Quite simply, this is a sophisticated film that successfully melds high adventure, fantasy, drama, humour, tragedy, horror and adolescent angst – without being overshadowed by the magnificent special effects and staggering production design.