Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire

During the closing scenes of this film, Lord Voldemort is reborn. It’s the turning point of the whole saga — the point at which it stops being all about Harry and his little adventures and becomes about stopping this great evil from regaining power. As I sat in the cinema, surrounded by hushed teenagers and frightened children, and saw Voldemort’s form regrow itself from darkness and pain, I looked upon this evil creature’s face and thought “Voldemort’s got no nose. How does he smell? Terrible!”, and it was then I began to suspect that I wasn’t really getting into the spirit of things.

So, here we are again. It’s beginning to seem to me that every other post on this site is concerned with The Magic of Harry Potter, but as the next book — which sources assure me will be approximately 800 pages long, contain no plot whatsoever and will largely just feature Harry sat in his room listening to The Cure — isn’t likely to be out for a couple of years at least, I’d say that after this, we’ll be safe for a while.

As I said, this story features a major turning point in the saga, and it represents the point in the books at which Rowling stopped being reined in by a competent editor and began to churn out 600-page books that were mostly about teenagers kissing one another. The Goblet of Fire was a bridge between the first three novels — short, to the point, nice light reading — and the following fifth and sixth novels — bloated, devoid of plot, felt like punishment. It’s a bridge because, although it has the unweildy girth of the latter novels, it at least pads itself out with story and not hormones.

The devils are inside the walls.

The film is not bad. Directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Donnie Brasco, Mona Lisa Smile) it is neither flat and leaden like the first two efforts by Christopher Columbus, nor as gothic as Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s not bad. It’s not great, either. It’s…inoffensive. The story holds together well, given how much material had to be cut out, though sometimes it feels as if we’re missing out — particularly at the beginning, when the Quidditch match is given a huge set up and then jumps straight to the post-match celebrations.

The acting is, you know, fine. The tradition of employing every British actor in minor roles continues; Eric Sykes appears briefly as the Riddle estate groundskeeper, Miranda Richardson does well as Rita Skeeter, and David Tennant shows up as Barty Crouch Jnr. This is because David Tennant is now contractually obliged to star in everything. Brendan Gleeson stands out as Mad-Eye Moody, but God, Brendan Gleeson is always good.

I’m struggling a bit, I’m afraid. I enjoyed watching this. It made me laugh at times, it made me jump at others…I suppose it did exactly what it set out to do. Looking back at it, I can’t pick out anything in particular that irritated or annoyed me…I suppose Emma Watson was a bit pointless…the character of Malfoy was sidelined further, despite his later importance…I’m not sure why such a complicated plot was needed to get Harry to the graveyard when presumably all that was required was for someone to just hand an object to him. The closing scene felt all wrong — an attempt to pin a vaguely-happy ending on to an unhappy story.

The problem is, looking back, I can’t pick out anything in particular that was memorable either. There was the fight with the dragon, which was well done but brief…there was the the graveyard scene with No-Nose which was, you know, adequate, but I’m sure when I read it in the book it had a lot more gravitas.

So. It was alright. A pleasant way of spending a cold November afternoon, but nothing more.