harry potter and the goblet of fire (2005)

 Alright, now before I get started on this one, there's something I should probably mention. I've never seen a Harry Potter movie. I've never read a Harry Potter book. I know alot of people love them, but I've just never felt the urge to actually sit down and watch one of these movies. I took my sister (who is a huge fan) to see it, and I was sort of wondering if it might make a fan out of me too. Maybe, after seeing this, I might want to go out and rent the other three and really get into this series. Well, sorry, but I just don't see what the big deal is. Not that one of the most successful movie franchises of all time really needs to worry a whole lot about bringing in new fans, but I felt, even though it's part of a series, the film should have been able to stand alone and at least be interesting to a newcomer like me. I guess I just didn't get it. 

 I felt like what my parents must have felt like when I dragged them to all those Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles movies all those years ago. I sat there staring at the screen, bewildered by everything I was seeing in front of me. When asked about it afterward I spouted the same ridiculously clueless statements that my own parents used to after a movie. "I liked the part where the one kid .... did the thing and ... evil lord .... something ... did the stuff.....". It was a pretty strange experience to say the least. But this is an international box office smash with revenues to rival the Lord of the Rings franchise, fans and critics alike praise these movies for their spectacular narratives and wonderful visual effects; I was expecting a little more. This is a pointless 2 and 1/2 hour movie about a magical tournament in which it seemed that basically nothing happened. The movie started off very dark and foreboding with a big CGI snake and a dream sequence where evil lord ... something, is having his henchmen plot to get Harry Potter. It seemed like it was going alright, it seemed kind of cool.  Well, the movie lost me at the word "muggles". as soon as all of the Potter jargon about "hogwarts" and "quiddich" is brought in, the movie becomes pretty silly. I mean, I can deal with hobbits and elves; the lord of the rings series was surprisingly accessible, but half the stuff in this movie just seemed ridiculous. It's unfair to the film that it's the only one I've seen, I know, I was stuck watching the continuation of something I've never seen and the setup for something I won't see in the future. So I can give this movie the benefit of the doubt, but I can't say I liked it at all. The plot of the film revolves around a wizard tournament that Harry Potter's school is having, a bunch of stuff happens and Harry ends up being in the tournament, even though he's not supposed to be. Don't ask my why the movie bothered with the subplot of Harry not being allowed in the tournament, because it doesn't amount to anything, he still competes in it and everthing would have been exactly the same, but whatever. So the tournament happens and it's not very cool, they do some underwater thing, they're in a giant maze, they all go to a school dance and the characters never really seem like they're a) in any real danger at any point in time, or b) doing much of anything. For how long the movie was, the three stages of the tournament could have been longer and could have seemed less ... easy as hell ... especially when it was built up with the phrase "people die in this tournament". The movie tries to save itself at the end by "revealing" that a huge plot (which was BARELY hinted at throughout the film, if at all) has been going on in the background and the dark lord of something-or-other has been brought back to life. ( I was informed after the movie that the evil guy was not brought back to life, but that's sure what it looked like to me, so we'll go with that). The whole big confrontation takes about 5 minutes, and after some tidy wrapping up of the story, the movie ends with the characters basically saying "well, that was crazy" and walking away. 

My apologies if I spoiled anything for anyone, but my guess is that you've either read the book or don't care, so it won't matter. bottom line is that for one reason or another I just didn't enjoy the movie one bit. Well, I suppose it had its moments. Seeing Harry Potter battle a giant dragon was cool, but it basically amounted to a chase scene on a broomstick. Which brings me to the visual effects. They weren't very good. The dragon thing was pretty cool and quite action packed, but I couldn't follow half of the things that were going on because the chase was so blurry. and when Harry gets stuck on the side of a building without his broom, the dragon for some reason clings to the side of the building too. As soon as he gets his broom back, it starts flying again. That was irritating. All in all though, the effects were mediocre, especially the horrible underwater scenes. The story was a bit boring, and again, it didn't really seem like anything happened until the last 15 minutes or so. That's not what you want when your movie is 2 and 1/2 hours long. The episodic nature of the films is annoying because it makes everything start up all over again from scratch every movie, and the ending has to wrap up the story and return everything to normal. If I understand correctly, every movie in the series is like this, which is pretty boring. I know a cliffhanger ending would have been greatly appreciated in this one at least. For all the talk of how imaginative these films are, I really didn't see much inventive thinking at all. Dragons, underwater mermaids, and giant mazes seem to be staples of the fantasy genre used in many other things, and all more effectively than they are here. Frankly, I saw more imagination in Shark Boy and Lava Girl. The film does very little to earn the much-talked-about PG-13 rating, besides one quick death and Harry getting a cut on his arm. I think they said the word "piss" too. oh no. The kid actors all do a very good job, it will be interesting to see if they branch out and do other films or if Potter is as far as they go. They've still got 3 more movies to work on, whatever the case. 

Now that all is said and done, I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not a Harry Potter fan. oh well. To the fans who enjoy it, hey, whatever works for you, I just didn't see it; whatever it was. I do have to give it credit for pleasing its fans when its the fourth installment in the series; most franchises would start to fade after only 2. At least now I can be "down" with the kids at the thanksgiving party and talk some wizard slang. Muggles. Yeah. I said it.