So I watched Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire…
This is one of my least favourite Harry Potter films. It takes some big swings in terms of forwarding the plot of the saga as a whole but often lacks the individual quality of the movies before it. Oh and we finally see Voldemort and it’s more than a little bit disappointing.
Okay, basic plot: The teachers at Hogwarts have already shown a blatant disregard towards the safety of their students but watch them turn that disregard into near-homicidal negligence as they force students to compete in The Tri-Wizard tournament. Harry gets chosen to compete in this dangerous tournament, even though he’s too young to even be nominated but the dangers of dragons, murderous mer-people and the return of The Dark Lord are nothing compared to the peril Harry and Ron will have to face in their quest to land dates for the Yule Ball.
This movie is probably where I started losing patience with Harry Potter. Not the movies but the character, himself. Harry’s actually kind of useless. He doesn’t have Hermione’s intelligence or Ron’s magical street-smarts; he’s very brave but I think a hero needs more than that. This is his fourth year at Hogwarts and it feels like he’s got less magical knowledge than when he started. Sure, the challenges he faces in this movie would be daunting for anyone – how many people know how to fight dragons? But I don’t get the sense that Harry is progressing as a wizard at all. He isn’t gaining any new skill or becoming tougher; he merely does the same things he’s done in the movies before this – being brave and hoping the answer falls in his lap.
I understand that he’s essentially still a child but this is a guy who fought Voldemort when he was eleven, killed a Basilisk when he was twelve and at thirteen repelled a gang of Dementors. He’s been tried and tested and it would be nice to see this reflected in his character. He’s not a regular fourth year, he’s been through too much to still be bumbling about like an idiot.
But anyway, this movie has a much darker tone and the storytelling is more mature, as are the characters. They’re entering adolescence and reaching that awkward time when the opposite sex becomes more of a factor than it had been in the past. This is emphasized by the presence of The Yule Ball and the need for everyone to get a date. This leads to some great moments of comedy and the rise of a character that no one saw coming – Neville Longbottom. Neville is kinda the whipping boy of Hogwarts but in this movie he shows that there’s a hint of swagger under his nerdy persona. Just thinking about what happens in the last movie, it’s great to see the beginning of the transformation in Neville’s character.
Brendan Gleeson’s addition to the cast as the manic Mad-Eye Mooney was also a master stroke. He’s a wonderful actor and he brings an edge to this movie that really heightens its quality. Oh and Ralph Fiennes also joins the cast as Lord Voldemort. Fiennes is a terrific actor but I’ve never cared for his portrayal of Voldemort. It’s a bit too comical. He reminds me of a clown at a birthday party instead of a villainous wizard out to conquer the world.
The thing I loved most about Voldemort up to this movie was the mystery and shroud around the character. We see a weakened Voldemort in the first movie forced to live on the back of a guy’s head to survive, next we see the sixteen-year-old version of him and through all of this we get the sense of his power and skill. So what I expected the first time I saw him was to see this spellbinding, frightening, mountain of a character but instead I just got a nose-less freak who was more funny than terrifying. It was a major anti-climax, maybe I had built the character up too much in my mind.
I know I said this in my review of Prisoner of Azkaban but I really do dislike Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore. He lacks the commanding presence and cool composure of Richard Harris’ version of the character. He just comes across as this mediocre side character now, instead of the grand wizard he was before.
Overall, this movie is great in some parts but infuriating in others. Voldemort was a bit of a let down but the maturity in the tone and style of the movie is a great change. I’d give Goblet of Fire a miss but you can’t watch the others without this one so you’re screwed. 6/10