[Contains a secret portkey and SPOILERS!!!]
After the much appreciated respite from the established Harry Potter Film Formula provided by The Prisoner of Azkaban, the series fell back into its exasperating rut with The Goblet of Fire (2005).
Not only did Dumbledore let yet another secretly-evil Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher slip through his rigorous screening process, he also somehow failed to notice that his old chum was actually a Death-Eater in disguise! Apparently there was a scene in the original novel where Harry’s “Marauder’s Map” correctly identified the nefarious infiltrator, so clearly it’s possible to see through the glamours cast by the Polyjuice Potion… but no one on the Hogwarts staff seems to have that ability… or the willingness to learn it, in order to keep the children safe from undercover assassins! Tch! Hilariously, near the end of the film Dumbledore apologises to Harry for putting him in so much danger “this year”, as if that weren’t just business as usual!
While I normally scoff at the faculty’s casual disregard for basic Health & Safety guidelines during Quidditch matches, I was absolutely staggered by the mind-boggling decision to allow/force Harry to compete in the life-threatening Triwizard Tournament, regardless of his own objections, and basic common sense. The Ministry official overseeing the competition, Barty Crouch Sr., took the position that by dropping his name into the eponymous Goblet, Harry had entered into a “binding magickal contract”… despite the fact that the Ministry’s own restrictions (announced a few scenes earlier, by Crouch himself) forbade anyone under 17 from competing… and the fact that the Goblet had already selected another, older pupil to represent Hogswarts. So, Crouch was choosing to enforce one particular rule that would place an underage pupil in peril, in direct contravention of two conflicting rules that would have protected him, and also given the other schools an equal chance of winning. THAT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE WHAT-SO-F*CKING-EVER!!! GAH!!!
I was also disappointed by the way that Hermione (Emma Watson) seemed to switch her brain off this year, and play a more traditionally “girly” role… sweetly supporting the hero with hugs, but totally failing to provide any intellectual assistance when it came to solving the riddles he was faced with, because she was too busy fussing over hunky boys and fancy dances. Meh! In fact, this film was weirdly over-zealous about enforcing old-fashioned gender divisions, as evidenced by the introduction of the two visiting schools. In the books, both Beauxbatons and Durmstrang are co-ed academies, but here they are represented as single sex institutions, in the most Freudian way possible: The Beauxbaton girls glide into the Great Hall wearing boob-shaped hats and swooning with soft sighs, while the camera ogles their wiggling bottoms… then the Durmstrang boys stomp in wearing furry coats and twirling their big, hard sticks, to prove how adept they are at handling their “wood”. M’kay.
On a more affirmative kick, the Patil twins (played here by Afshan Azad and Shefali Chowdhury), scored a couple of good laughs, as well as a lot of sympathy for the way that Harry and Ron inexplicably blanked them at the Ball. Bless. This film also introduced a new potential love interest for Harry, in the form of ‘Cho Chang’, played by Katie Leung… who had an amusingly awkward scene with Harry, when he attempted to ask her to the dance, as well as some more emotional material to sink her teeth into after the untimely demise of her eventual date, during the final round of the tournament. I’m just glad the HP people let her keep her natural brogue… Cute Asian Chicks + Scottish Accent = Win.
Meanwhile, Ron’s heroism-by-association attracted the attention of visiting French femme, ‘Fleur Delacour’, played by Clémence Poésy… who has since gone on to snag Sofia Helin’s role in the British remake of The Bridge, boringly titled The Tunnel (why no “Chunnel Chop Cop Hop”? Boo!). On the grown-up side of things, there were also some fantastic supporting turns by Miranda Richardson (as ‘Rita Skeeter’, an unscrupulous gossip columnist for “The Daily Prophet”)… Frances de la Tour (as ‘Olympe Maxime’, the gigantic Headmistress of Beauxbatons)… and another remarkably pervy appearance by Shirley Henderson as ‘Moaning Myrtle’. Hurrah!