“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Pack your bags, folks, we’re going on a nostalgia trip.
You see, ITV is currently marathoning the Harry Potter film series (I believe Order of the Phoenix is on tomorrow) and…well, who can resist a visit to Hogwarts?
In his fourth year at magic school, Harry Potter faces the Triwizard Tournament, a competition between the three great European schools of magic (seriously, there are only three? How big is this magical community, exactly?) involving a series of dangerous tasks. People die in this Tournament, regularly, we are told, which somehow begs the question of why an establishment that is supposed to protect its students allows it to go ahead.
The whole thing – and I’m sorry to blaspheme, but it’s kind of true – defies credibility, from the ridiculously show-offy entrance of the delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, the rival schools, to the very idea that school staff could possibly justify putting students (non-participants at that) into a magical coma in order to submerge them in a deep lake with dangerous creatures as part of a sporting event. In what universe could you say that is anything other than cruel? Yet, apparently, Dumbledore the Good Guy lets the whole thing go ahead, no problem.
There are a few redeeming features, mostly the presence of David Tennant playing an incredibly creepy Barty Crouch Jr., complete with an appropriately TARDIS-y tent belonging to Arthur Weasley – but then, who needs magic when you’ve got CGI?
Sadly, I feel that Goblet of Fire is one of those films that worsens with age. It all makes perfect sense when you watch it as a teenager. (Of course it’s perfectly normal for a WHOLE SCHOOL to HATE Harry Potter for illegally entering the Tournament, instead of, e.g., being happy that Hogwarts has a double chance at winning.) And then you watch it again and realise that, really, it’s not a story that withstands any cynical scrutiny whatsoever.