Friday, 18 June 2004

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Referencing his Jazz roots John Williams' captivating score for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was one of the first albums that I purchased from iTMS Europe. Williams' dexterity at composing for franchises knows no bounds and traverses Star Wars to Indiana Jones and now Harry Potter. He weaves complex sonic narratives: from the opening Waltz to Buckbeak’s Flight (a signature theme in its own right, which recalls his work on E.T., Star Wars and Superman). The soundtrack is overflowing with urgency and light is threatened by shadow at every segue.

So, it would be remiss not to see the movie too! Today I ventured with one of my Uncle's to Plymouth's Vue (formerly known as Warner Village). We arrived early and decided on 'chow' from Pizza Hut. The service was excellent and I garnered an extra Pepsi (courtesy of the waitress)! A couple of Hutts (or Vogan look-a-likes) indulged in an all-you-can-eat banquet to the badly suppressed amusement of staff and onlookers alike!

OK. The movie. To my utter delight screen 9 is deserving of the moniker 'giant' screen - a luxurious widescreen canvas that outflanks the Odeon Leicester Square - resulting in retinal overload.

HP3 opens with a franchise flourish: the WB logo transformed into a signature motif that owes a debt to Tim Burton’s Batman. The film oozes oily evil from the outset, the colour palette delineated in black, white and blue. The sets capture the ambience of Anton Furst's production design for Batman.

Azkaban is far removed from the Christmas cheer of its predecessors. Performances are uniformly excellent, culminating in Watson’s Hermione outshining Radcliffe’s leaden Harry! The Dementors are clearly derivative of another literary source, however they are nonetheless chilling.

It is a dark time for Harry Potter full of ambiguous choices and emotions, but not for the franchise. I’ll be booking my seat for the next instalment in advance of 2005.