Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

What Is It?

The 4th installment of the super popular series about an average boy, growing into teen and adult hood while attending a boarding school for “witches.” The series seems to hook you with the fantasy aspects and keep you with the true to life coming of age stories. Here, we are back at Hogwarts School and the Tri-Wizard tournament will pit one wizard from England against one from Russia and one from France. Some how the Goblet has selected an extra name, and it is….

How was it?

If you have been enjoying the series so far, you will not be disappointed. This one is older and darker, and is still progressing. The effects are better (Particularly the transformations as compared to the Werewolf from the last film.) I loved the scene where the dragon crawls across roofs like a bat scraping across a brick wall.

They still have their “Live action cartoon” feel, and include long dialog to explain all the new rules for the world so that some of this makes sense.

Still, I’m about sick of, after 3 years in this world, Harry still being surprised by things being “odd”. Though more than that, it’s sad that such interesting and potentially complex characters as Snape and professor McGonagall populate this world, but instead of digging deeper, they just introduce new characters to skitter across the screen and disappear into cameo obscurity.

(Can we please just keep one “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher for more then one film?)

Hey, anyone for a quick game of “Name that Tolkien Influence”?

SPOILER – I have thought it cheesy that in the last three, everything was constantly life threatening and no one died…. Good job

Is It Good for Kids?

There are potential nightmares lurking through the graveyard of this film. The Death Eaters are mild, compared to the (Spoiler) re-birth of the noseless Voldermort.

Though more than this, is the sudden burst of sexuality in this film. We get a point of view shot of Ron checking out the back ends of several French witches. Later he comments on the fact that he usually only looks at them and only from behind. We get Hermony in a low cut dress, and Harry taking a bath, while a teen age girl ghost watches him, and comments on bubbles disipating for a better view. She later cuddles up with Harry in the tub, though he doesn’t seem interested.

Yes, as kids get into their teen years, they are going to start to notice girls and be curious. It would just be nice if we could see this delt with without giving acceptance to checking people out like they are meat, or putting the characters into sketchy situations (like the tub).

You can find out more about what’s on the screen from Screenit.com

What About Spirtual Themes?

The big hub-bub about Harry, in the “Holy Huddles”, has been the use of witchcraft. Yes, the Bible condems it. Yes, it is flaunted in these books and movies and the only people who think poorly about witchcraft are given a horrid sounding name, and are charactures of unthinking hatred, fitting of a Roald Dahl book. The magic here is from an undetermined source. (This differs from “Lord of the Rings” where all power is attributed to either the Author of Evil, or the Creator and Ruler of Good.) Yes, the last movie included a “spell” that kids could “perform” to better their lives (Ridiculos). Yes, this uses the term witch, and yes, this could cause a child to look into or stumble upon the fastest growing religion in American High Schools. But that is not the point of these stories.

That said, the craft here is all very much educated by years of cartoons and comics. The magic is often arbitrary. (Kids can make a student cough up slugs, but can’t make Ron’s “Dress Robes” stylish.) Magic is not the point of these stories.

There is a kid here, who is in fact, growing up infront of us. He is going through the same struggles of bullies and girls and friendship and akward ages that we have all or will all face. It his how he deals with teachers, rules and homework that provides the true messages and meanings of Harry Potter. Though there may be plenty to be worried about in the past three movies (See my combined review of the first three) this one is free of the concerning morals that plague it’s predicessors. Infact, the only major moral concern I see here, is the objectifying of boys and girls.

Here Harry is shown as self sacrificing, friendship is preserved (maybe to the extent that it is putting forth an existential philosophy, but not overtly.) And growing up is about change.

Your Recommendation?

If your children are into the Harry Potter Series, like anything else, talk to them about it. Talk to them about what they liked and didn’t, as well as, the choices made by characters and our choices in our world.

If they are not, though this may be the “safest” of the series, it is a series and I don’t think we can deal with it as a seperate componant. Yes, the poor moral choices that plague the other films (and the two books of the series that I have read) were not present here. But there was not a turning away of those choices either, and I think we can expect more of it in the future.

Furthermore, unless you are very “into” the characters, the movies will probably lag for you.

If you or your children are just itching for fantasy children’s entertainment that can thrill adults as well, pick up the book “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” and get ready for a worth while, “Is it as good as the book?” debate.

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