A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

July 27, 2011

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I realize that this movie is an important turning point. The first two movies involve attempts by Voldemort to return from the half-life to which he has been banished. The third movie is a bit of a detour, explaining in more detail about Harry’s father and his friends and hinting about the dark times during the dark lord’s last ascendancy. This, the fourth installment in the Potter series, is all about moving the grand plot arc forward. It has to conclude with Voldemort’s eventual resurrection (I hope that’s not really a spoiler to anybody reading this review) but the circuitous and convoluted route it takes to reach that goal weakens it somewhat for me.

Before Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts begins he goes with Hermione and Ron’s whole family to see the quidditch world cup. It’s a thrilling and fun look at the wizarding world and how nice it can be when things are peaceful. It’s glorious and exciting and the pinnacle of what is good about the Potter-verse. Then a bunch of Death Eaters show up and ruin everything, burning tents and spreading terror and shooting the dark mark high into the sky.

The faculty of Hogwarts naturally decide, under the circumstances, to hold a terrifyingly dangerous wizarding competition on the campus. The Tri-Wizard Tournament is, as the name suggests, a battle of wits between three wizards from three different schools who are all assigned multiple perilous tasks. It is made very clear to us us that students have been KILLED in this competition in the past. (So why does anybody think this is a good idea?)

Then things go a little pear shaped. Admission into this exclusive competition is handled by a magical burning cup (yeah, the Goblet of Fire) which is supposed to select one young wizard from each of the three competing schools. This device is also supposed not to accept any nominations for any wizards under the age of seventeen. So how, then doe Harry Potter end up getting nominated as a second wizard from Hogwarts? Clearly something is amiss.

Harry gets an awful lot of help in the Tri-Wizard Tournament from the irascible and slightly insane new defense against the dark arts teacher. I have always loved the character of “Madeye” Moody. His catch phrase (which is not featured in the movies for some reason) was also mine while I was still working at Blockbuster, where theft was a never ending problem. “Constant vigilance!” Of course in the end of the movie it’s revealed that this character you’ve come to really quite like is not all that he appears. I still find that a little disorienting.

I don’t want to mince words here: the primary plot of this movie is completely non-sensical. It always irritates me when a bad guys nefarious scheme seems to rely as much on luck as on intricate manipulations. The whole purpose of having Harry in the tournament is to get him to Voldemort using the trophy – the Tri-Wizard Cup. It’s a ludicrous plan with far too many ways that it could have gone wrong and it makes Voldemort as a villian seem a little less menacing.

On the other hand I quite like some of the side plots featured in the film. Especially the preparations for the yule ball with Harry and Ron trying to get up the courage to invite some poor girls to attend with them. There are moments that are evocative of my own awkward teenage years, although they’re much less painful here and are played for laughs. I feel a little bad for the Patel sisters, but even so the dynamics of these kids dealing with dating and teenaged angst are fun to watch.

Part of what’s so enjoyable about these movies is seeing these young actors growing up and becoming more and more adept at their craft. Even if this movie is a muddle and a confusing mess it still does manage to have a lot of great scenes for the people playing the lead roles. I almost wish it didn’t try so hard to be an action adventure film with an extended chase across the rooftops of Hogwarts between Harry and an irate dragon – the smaller character drama moments are so much better.

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July 27, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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