It may not come through in my reviews, but I am a huge sports fan. I am also a bit of an athlete. I played many sports as youngster, I had a brief cup of coffee with a semi-professional baseball team, and I currently run five miles a day. I bring these topics up only as a way of backing into the theme of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). It was a favorite of mine from the books. As for the film version, I am not sure I enjoyed it as much as the novel. It is fine. At the same time, it was as if all the boys decided for this year that they were going to grow out their hair. This is not a big deal, it just seemed strange. What separates this film from the others is the return of the series villain, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Yes, after much hand wringing and some near misses, “He Who Must Not Be Named” has finally come back from the fringes of existence and into fully-fledged human form. I am getting ahead of myself. Please enjoy this rendering of yet another tale from the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
I suppose the producers behind the series were getting tired of the usual Harry Potter escaping from the Dursleys introduction because Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire skips that part. Actually, it begins with a couple of figures we have yet to see in the series, though Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall), known as Wormtail, is familiar from the previous movie. With him are two other figures, one of which is the wheezing voice of Lord Voldemort, barely clinging to life. We are treated to this scene in a vision Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has while dreaming. The setting for this nightmare is the home of his best friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and they are gathering to go with Ron’s family to the Quidditch World Cup. At the end of the festivities, chaos breaks out in the camp of those following the tournament triggered by a group of Lord Voldemort’s followers known as “Death Eaters,” all of which is capped off by one of the dark wizards casting their leader’s mark into the sky. It is under these circumstances, with the notion that “He Who Must Not Be Named” could be amongst them at any moment that Harry and Ron, along with their friend Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), return to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This year, the school is to play host to its own tournament, a sort of magical scholastic showdown known as the “Tri-Wizard Tournament.” The “tri-” part refers to the fact that two other schools will be competing against Hogwart’s hopefuls, and they are the Bulgarian Durmstrang Institute, and the French Beauxbatons Academy. Another new arrival this year is the obligatory yearly Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson). His nickname serves two purposes. The first half refers to the former auror’s (think wizarding police) feisty disposition. The second half pertains to the false eye he sports, the result of many injuries he faced while hunting dark wizards for the Ministry of Magic. Once all these introductions are made, school headmaster Professor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) addresses those gathered, explaining the Tri-Wizard Tournament. One of the last things he reminds them about is that only those students above the required age of seventeen to practice magic without adult supervision will be selected. That is why everyone is surprised when the underage, fourth year underclassman Harry Potter’s name comes floating from the title cup after a champion from each school had already been selected, Harry among them. Unfortunately, it means that Harry must compete with the others, despite his youth, because the fact that his name is selected represents a magically binding contract. Given the rumors of the dangers of the contest, Harry is not eager to participate, while Ron believes Harry betrayed their friendship by not disclosing his entrance. Despite his anger, Ron works behind the scenes to help Harry prepare for the series of challenges, though it eventually becomes more overt when they make amends. In turn, Harry feeds information to fellow Hogwart’s competitor Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson). This proves beneficial as Cedric helps Harry with clues about one of the challenges. This spirit will come in handy when it comes to the final test, a maze with the Tri-Wizard cup waiting in the center. Whoever reaches it first will be declared the winner of the tournament. Though there is a moment when they forget themselves, devolving into a fistfight on their journey, Harry and Cedric eventually make it to the cup at the same time. Unfortunately, this proves to be a trap, and they are transported to a desolate place many miles away. They are greeted there by Wormtail, who promptly kills Cedric, and Harry is used to resurrect Lord Voldemort. Harry, though, manages to escape with Cedric’s body and return to Hogwart’s. The cheers that erupt with their reappearance are soon replace with cries of anguish when everyone realizes Cedric is dead. Further, when Mad-Eye takes Harry into his office under the pretense of treating the boy’s injuries, it is revealed that he was one of the unknown figures in his dream at the beginning of the year, and that he is really Barty Crouch disguised as Mad-Eye Moody. The conclusion of all this is an agreement that these recent events have changed the course of their lives.
In the critical moment in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Harry is left to face the dreaded Lord Voldemort and his cadre of Death Eaters, Harry and his adversary’s wands connect with each other in a blaze of colorful light. During the process, several deceased souls appear to Harry, including James (Adrian Rawlins) and Lily Potter (Geraldine Somerville). Throughout the previous movies, we see Harry’s struggles with being an orphan, and his longing to see his parents. Though it is brief and under dire circumstances, they offer Harry the help he needs to get away from Lord Voldemort intact. Clearly, we are talking about magic and not Faith. Yet, Catholicism is unique among Christendom for its veneration of our ancestors. It does not work in the way we see it in the movie. Our deceased loved ones are not likely to intervene in our lives in a life-or-death moment, although God could allow this to happen. Instead, what we do is pray for their souls. In doing so, we receive the benefit of offering a sacrifice of our prayer for another, which can help us to escape further time in Purgatory. It may seem like circular logic, but Faith can be like that at times. At the same time, it helps to see our prayers in this light. Prayer is an action, it is effective, and it leads us closer to God. As for the movie, please know that I do not wish to compare magic to praying. Still, I like to think that honoring those who came before Harry is on par with what we Catholics do for our own loved ones.
Hence, never mind the shaggy hair of Harry and his friends in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Watch this one for the acts of courage and the loving scene between Harry and the souls of his parents. When you have eight of these movies, you have to find something to get excited about for viewing it. Otherwise, it is just a movie about magic.
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