Day 144: Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azka-Vans

Some-blue soled Vans feel the force of Voldemort’s fury in latest installment of the 365-day charity challenge

May 24 main

No sooner are you loaned a pair of blue-soled Vans (I never knew they existed!) than some nasally-deficient evil Dark Lord tries to take them off you. Go and find your own pair Voldemort, and leave Clogwarts alone, you big bully.

I’m going to say something controversial here. Prisoner Of Azkaban is not my favourite Harry Potter film.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d never disagree with it being the best directed of the films; Alfonso Cuaron (who has since won great acclaim for Children Of Men and Gravity) brings a visual wit and style to the series which has never been matched. I love his use of the Whomping Willow to show the changes of season, and the massive clock with it giant pendulum (reflecting the themes of the movie) is a very striking image (which I was sad to see wasn’t retained in later movies). There’s also the amusing low level smut. No, not just the hilarious opening scene in which Harry is playing with his wand under the bed clothes, but also the moment when Professor Lupin trills, “Harry you came!” immediately following something white and sticky is flung at the “screen”.

Harry Potter Azkaban whomping willow

The werewolf’s a bit crap, but my main problem with Azkaban – the film – is that that time travel plot actually leads to a very weak, rushed, anticlimatic ending. What comes across as clever  in the book, just feels like watching the same stuff twice on screen. I’m not one  of those people who constantly moans about differences between the books and the films (generally I think they’re very intelligent adaptations – though I’d have chopped out at lest 75% of the camping scenes from Deathly Hallows Part One). But screenwriter Steve Kloves seems at a loss how to transfer the time travel shenanigans to screen with the flair and fun they need. It all feels a bit plodding when it should feel like Back To The Future.

Oh, and the bit with Harry seeing the stag Patronus is pretty much wasted.

No my favourite Potter film is Goblet Of Fire, and not just because of the dragon. Though the dragon sequence is great.

Harry Potter Goblet Of Fire Dragon task

Sure, the jettisoning of most of the Quidditch World Cup from the book is a bit brutal, but after that we get the best structured film of the entire series. The whole Triwizard tournament is a gift for a movie script, giving the plot a rigid backbone, with a story that moves effortlessly from A to B to C; from selection of the champions, through the various tasks, to a fantastically thrilling climax for both the tournament and the film itself.

The cast of pupils from the competing schools expand the universe in a fun way and, indeed, the entrance of competitors to Hogwarts is one of my favourite sequences in all eight films – colourful, magical, full of awe. This is fantasy at its most gloriously fantastical before David Yates decided the series should be more grim and grounded.

Goblet Of Fire is a lovely marriage of magic and the British public school genre (St Trinians, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, Billy Bunter, Jennings, etc). It boasts the wonderful Yule Ball where all three leads get to act their ittle hearts out, embracing real teenage emotions and traumas for the first time.

There’s also some wonderful production design. I especially love the spectator stands used in the Second Task – the one that takes place on and under the lake.

Harry Potter Gobet of fire lake second task stands

And just because everyone plays this game, here’s my list of favourite to least favourite Potter films:

1) Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
2) Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
3) Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part Two
4) Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
5) Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part One
6) Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
7) Harry Potter And The Title Too Confusing For Americans, Apparently
8) Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince  (by far my least favourite – chiefly because it’s sooooo dull)

Anyway, on with Saturday. Enjoy the long weekend.

Usual Sign-Off

• Current total: £805 (still creeping up – wonder if I can make it to £1,ooo by the end of June?)

• Remember this is all for charity, so any pennies or pounds you can spare PLEASE DONATE BY CLICKING HERE.

• Follow me on Twitter to make sure you see what trainers I’m wearing each day.

• If you have any trainers you could donate (either on loan or old pairs you’re getting rid of) which are size 9 (ish – I can do anything from 8 to 10) contact me at dave.golder@futurenet.com so I can arrange collection.

• Please, please, please leave comments below! I’m after ideas for mini-challenges, future photoshoots and how I can find enough pairs of trainers!

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