Harry Potter is back on the big screen—and already the fourth-best opening film of all time, at $102.3 million. And right along with it, the ongoing debate among Christians—including film critics—about the merits of J. K. Rowling's increasingly popular literary and cinematic phenomenon has begun again

How does Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire measure up to the other films in the series? Most critics say it's either the best or second-best, praising director Mike Newell for adding richness and depth to such mainstream entertainment. But they also agree that, as Harry grows up, the films are dealing with problems that require more mature sensibilities. Thus, Goblet of Fire earns its PG-13 rating, with some truly frightening sequences.

Peter T. Chattaway (Christianity Today Movies) focuses on how the series and its central figures are changing. "As our characters have grown up, so has their sense of humor, which relies less on gross-out gags and more on gags that aim below the belt. … But there are also moments of quiet, tender sorrow and joy … However … the film completely fumbles the ball at the most crucial moment." He goes on to criticize the climactic sequence of the film.

Chattaway also criticizes Harry's status as a hero. "The film unfolds so quickly, you almost don't have time to notice how passive Harry is—he is constantly reacting to things or letting events drive him, rather than acting and driving them himself—or how his friends continue to break the rules whenever it suits their purpose. What you do notice are the fantastic visuals … and the amusing characters. Alas, in its climactic moments, Goblet of Fire fails to lay the groundwork that the next films ...

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