Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

"Ron, you spoiled everything!"

The cast of the Harry Potter films continues to dazzle. This time we have, among others, David Tennant, Robert Pattinson and the sadly departed Roger Lloyd Pack. Again, the cast is noticeably older, as are the characters: we have a typical media teenage romance with Hermione and Ron in the sense that they pretend to hate each other. We have a nod to the fact that British schools, these days, have adopted that alien American institution that is the Prom. And once again we have a film that, while it is no more serious than the last one, is a little more serious and less fun than I would have liked. It certainly looks darker, though, from the opening titles onwards. 

We have the bizarre prospect of a Quidditch World Cup combined with political skulduggery from the Ministry of Magic while Voldemort's Death Eaters stalk the school. Like the Sochi Winter Olympics this is a highly politicised sporting event and, Harry being the hero and all, we just know that he's going to end up winning this Triwizard Tournament thing.

The obligatory new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is one eyed, highly eccentric, abrasive, played by the excellent Brendan Gleeson and, as is also traditional, an obvious red herring. Some traditions never change. The three contestants meanwhile are Victor Krum of Bulgaria, Fleur Delacours of France and Cedric Diggory of the Twilight Saga. Inevitably, Harry too is drawn in. The film starts with "Harry Potter and..." after all.

Unfortunately everyone, Ron included, thinks he cheated, and he's persona non grata at school, something which I'm sure every teenager must have felt at some time or other. Being a teenager is horrible, and being fourteen is generally the nadir of life.

Harry is friendless and pursued by the tabloids, in a storyline which rather nicely parallels J.K. Rowling's experiences with the happily departed News of the World; life imitating art, or the reverse, I wonder?

This film essentially constitutes a quest narrative through the medium of sport, with a bit of teenage angst centred around this Prom thing which the kids seem to care about as though they were in an American high school for some reason.

Ron and Hermione have fallen out big time, as teenagers who fancy each other tend to do in films and telly. But he three friends eventually unite to help Harry; like Buffy, the ultimate moral of the film is that even heroes would be helpless without friends.

There's a final showdown with Voldemort, and a big revelation about the night that Voldemort killed Harry's parents; it was the magic of his mother's sacrifice that saved Harry, magic that has now expired. Cedric is left dead and the mood of the film is left very, very dark.

Harry's final chat with Dumbledore is lacking something; Michael Gambon may be a much-admired actor but he's no Richard Harris.

This is my least favourite of the series so far, and the darkest by far. These two facts are definitely linked. 

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