A Fantasy Hater's Guide To Harry Potter: Film 4 – 'Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire'
Harry Potter has eluded me. I've never been one for ogres and fairies and magic and more. It seemed to me that anything involving magic was a cop out, as any problem could be solved by saying "Thank God we have the magical ______!"
That said, I have heard over and over again how wonderful this series is. So I'm watching all the HP movies and critiquing them leading up to the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1."
Harry Potter fourget it.
When I embarked on my little Harry Potter movie marathon, every person that had been urging me to see these movies warned me I would not like them if I haven't read the books. The books explain everything I've been told. Oh, that huge gaping plot hole is totally covered in the book. The characters are so much better in the books.
However, since I do most of my reading in the potty, tackling 4100 pages of wizardry in fifteen minute bursts would have me finishing the series around the same time Bristol Palin's second term as President winds down.
Also, the newest movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, is something like 80 percent sold out across the country for midnight showings. So you can't tell me people don't love these movies. People wait in lines for hours for these movies. People worship these movies. There are cover bands, fan festivals, sold out midnight showings, video games, fan fiction, cosplay, coloring books, college classes! There are two award winning fan made musicals.
None of these films are worthy of all of that. For all the hooplah and balleyhoo, these movies are the cinematic equivalent of Quaker Oates rice patties. Not good or bad, just sorta there. You don't come away with a sense of accomplishment, or worth, or a message or moral to take home and talk about. Everything is just sort of there and never going anywhere. It's like X-men 3 where they threw in all this extra stuff to appease the fans, then forgot they had a movie to make.
When fans attempt to defend the general lack of story, I'm told these movies are about the characters. Yet, none of these characters have done anything. Hermonie is smart, Ron is a twit, and Harry is a bit befuddled. We get no development, we get nothing that changes. Writing the characters the same way throughout four films is not good character development. It's crap writing. Oh, wait, Hermione and Ron hold hands at one point. Oh shoot.
So the movie starts with the gang headed to a big quiddich tournament. Color me excited. The gang travels via a magical boot to what I imagine is some sort of mystical tailgate party. Yep. Travel by boot. Why in the world does this need to exist? There's a magical train, flying brooms, flying chariots, and magical pirate ships too, did we really need a boot? I guess this all has to do with high level enchantment or other witchcraft, but there is no code to this.
The Jedi in “Star Wars”, who are, face it, wizards, have some rules. They use a lightsaber. They can mind trick people. They are telekenetic. They can communicate via telepathy. In Harry Potter, outside of everyone having a wand, this magic crap is just thrown at the wall. Except there is no wall because it's all fantasy, so crap is just flying all over the place, none of it makes sense, and it's starting to stink.
So after they travel via this boot in what is essentially a glorified scene transition, and arrive at the magical party. They're walking, being amazed by the sights, having a good time, then they come to a tent. Because this movie is what it is, and what this series is what it is, I had a feeling this tent was not as it appeared. And behold, I was right.
Remember how magic had a very matter of fact charm in the first few movies? In “The Goblet of Fire,” Harry Potter, who spent the last three movies with a psychic talking hat on his head, riding a flying broom, fighting and killing a giant snake with a sword that materialized in said magical talking hat, and, oh yeah, traveling through time, is amazed by how a tiny tent is much bigger on the inside. He is so amazed that he says "I love magic" with wonder in his eyes. Then in the very next scene there's a magical dancing Leprechaun fireworks display and, well, he doesn't seem that impressed.
So the movie spends about six or seven minutes showing us this tailgate party and the ramp up to this big game. To be honest I'm sort of excited at this point. Special effects technology has matured, and we have a new director, so maybe the flick found a way to make Quiddich entertaining.
And to spite me, it promptly cuts away. I hate Quiddich, don't get me wrong, but if you're going to hype the dang thing, at least show it
Then there's this random attack by people who look like the KKK with skeleton masks on, the tailgate party is burnt to the ground, and maybe the plot is getting started a bit early in this one too.
And no. We're back on the train, we head to Hogwarts, and the next two hours are spent on this positively stupid magical wizardry tournament that has nothing to do with anything. A terrifically dangerous tournament that Harry Potter is told he can't participate in because he's not old enough. But wouldn't you know, the magical goblet of manufactured plot picks his name for it anyway.
That's literally this movie. It's Harry Potter participating in the tournament, figuring out how to unlock a magical squealing egg, how he's going to fight a dragon, how he's going to traverse a maze that changes on it's own. Occasionally Harry Potter is haunted by this dream featuring what appears to be an infant Voldemort in a baby carriage, but if you look really hard it's actually just an oddly framed chair. Nothing progresses there, and we just see the dream over and over again.
Oh and there's a lover's quarrel between Ron and Harry for all your slash fiction fans out there.
There's also a new Dark Arts professor with a robot eye. You know how I know it's a robot eye? It makes the universal robot zooming sound. Twice. Why in the blue hell do you introduce technology like this? Now, instead of paying attention to the plot I don't care about, I wonder if wizards can have robot eyes, why can't wizards have cell phones or powered lights, or laptop computers, or 911? I may be nitpicking, but if you take your movies in a "darker" more "mature" direction, you're piratically challenging your audience to think this way.
The movie just seems thrown together, and it's unacceptable. At one point in the movie they do this whole underwater rescue challenge. Now this is the tournament that children were not allowed to enter mind you, but Harry was let in because the “Goblet of Fire” said so. Anyway, in one of these challenges they submerge Ron and Hermione under the sea, presumably to drown if Harry fails at rescuing them. This scene was better in Men of Honor, for the record.
This huge gaping plot hole could literally be fixed by some sort of magical deus ex machina about enchantment or something, but no, the movie doesn't even bother.
In the end, this movie is bad. Bad technically, bad thematically, the special effects are pretty okay, but everything else is either stupid, eye roll inducing, and or is just plain boring. For example, Voldemort's grand return at the end of the movie does nothing to defy my expectations.
Oh look, Malfoy is a death eater. I'm so surprised I forgot to gasp.