We begin with a SPOILER ALERT, because even though it seems everyone in the world has bought a Harry Potter book, it would be rude to assume that everyone has read all of them and therefore may not want to know that in Warner Bros.' adaptation of J.K. Rowling's fourth novel, the teenage mage grows an unfashionably large handlebar mustache. Okay, that doesn't happen. But what can we say about Goblet of Fire? ''Well...I do a lot more running around than I did in the last one,'' says Michael Gambon, back again as dear old Professor Dumbledore.
Actually, everyone is running around a lot more than they did in Prisoner of Azkaban. Practically double the size of any Potter tome before it, and certainly more action packed, Fire chronicles Harry's participation in a wizarding tournament while he's simultaneously unraveling a sinister conspiracy, discovering girls, and dodging creepy glances from a spooky new teacher named ''Mad-Eye'' Moody (Brendan Gleeson). It's so epic, the studio considered splitting the story between two films. But Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón, who took a more freewheeling adaptation approach, persuaded them to reconsider, even at the expense of cutting content. ''He taught us you could really depart from the book in many ways,'' says producer David Heyman. ''Alfonso always felt the ideas in Fire could only support one movie. The studio agreed.''
Thus, Hermione's attempts to liberate Hogwarts' indentured house elves poof! Gone. Fortunately, most of the book's memorable sequences have survived, including the World Cup of Quidditch match that opens the film and the grotesque rebirth of the nefarious Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) that closes it. It all sounds very Steven Spielberg, though Fire director Mike Newell tackled the material by asking What Would Hitchcock Do? ''It's a bit like North by Northwest,'' says Newell. ''Cary Grant is the happy advertising guy...but that evil James Mason has plans for him.'' (FYI, in this equation, Grant is the one with the handlebar mustache.)