Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter Harry Potter Harry Potter

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Chamber of Secrets Review

< >Since I always start out my reviews with a little spiel about my life and how I got to this juncture - I just know you're excited about this! - sit back, relax, and let us eat cake. It's going to be an interesting ride! (It's also full of spoilers, so please watch the movie first, and feel free to tell me what you think.)


< >About two months ago, my local paper came out with a fall movie preview, talking about, among Lord of the Rings and others, the second Harry Potter film. Of course, I had to read it. As I was perusing the snippet on Harry Potter, I stopped dead. The author of the article, Glenn Whipp (a well-known movie critic and reporter from Los Angeles) wrote, "If you liked the first film, you'll probably be okay with the second one." Now honestly, doesn't this infer that he'd seen the movie already? I certainly thought so and mulled over the thought for almost two weeks before I finally decided to write him an E-mail.

< >It turned out that Mr. Whipp had not seen the movie yet and was writing off of information he'd received from a few conversations with director Chris Colombus. He made the comment he'd be seeing the movie at a preview for the press in late October or November. I laughingly asked, "Hey, can I go with you?"

< >Oddly enough, he said yes!

< >Needless to say, I walked quickly out of my house and started screaming. I would have done an Irish jig had my dad not come running, demanding to know what was wrong.

< >Flip to a few weeks later on the morning of November 4th. I rearranged my school schedule so I wouldn't miss my important classes and had to skirt several friends trying to murder me during first lunch. I left school early and around 3:30 in the afternoon, I was driving with my mother into a very polluted and very foggy Los Angeles. (As much as the city is glamourized, you do not want to find yourself in parts of it at any time of the day.) We were headed to the famous Grove Theatre in the Fairfax District for the seven o'clock showing.

< >If you ever go to Los Angeles, this is a cool place to go, especially at night. The Fairfax District and new farmer's market is like, as I told my mother, an adult's Disneyland. The Grove is an awesome theatre with three levels, the top being leather and very comfortable, but that's not at all what I should be talking about, is it?

< >In all honesty, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a much better film than its predecessor, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. If you want the short review, here it is: although I had to wince and roll my eyes sometimes, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

< >Chamber of Secrets opens fabulously. Of course it's modified for time, but I thought it was great. The dialogue is straight from the canon - even the Japanese golfer joke is mentioned - and done very well. Petunia Dursley (Fiona Shaw) is wearing a salmon pink cocktail dress, and the conversation between Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and our favourite house-elf is very funny! Dobby is amazing looking and you have to watch him carefully. There are so many details put into him and the things he does while talking to Harry make him seem extremely real.

< >After the Mason scene, though, things get a bit hairy. Harry can hear the puttering of the Anglia which hasn't even come over the neighbours' houses yet and nobody else seems to hear it. Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) seems a bit whiny from the start, but I will say that again the dialogue was dead on and Vernon Dursley (Richard Griffiths) even seizes Harry by the ankle. I was sad, though, that Harry didn't yell, "See you next summer!" Once Harry gets in the car, every thing goes very fast.

< >The acting overall by the kid actors has improved. Daniel is the most dramatic example of this, but he is still rather bland in some areas. Case in point being his last words with Lucius in Dumbledore's office: Jason Isaacs says very darkly, "Let's hope that Harry Potter will always be around to save the day." Daniel replies, "Don't worry, I will be," with absolutely no emotion. Even the glare is unemotional - the lines are great and yet it just doesn't work with the way Daniel spoke the 'climactical' words. If you read my analysis, though, you'll see that I loved Daniel in the chamber scenes against Tom Riddle (Christian Coulson). Probably his best acting in the movie and there's not much more to say other than he's great in that part.

< >Rupert seemed a bit constipated to me throughout most of the movie - well, that's not the greatest way to put it. It felt as if the filmmakers were trying to recreate Sorcerer's Stone's humour. It rather got lost with Rupert's whininess (too much so for this book and thus the film), but I will fully admit the butterflies line is classic. I let out a shrill giggle and I know Mr. Whipp was pondering my sanity. Rupert is a great kid actor and I really liked him in the first movie, but he seems a bit off his mark in this one. Since I tend to blame things on the filmmakers, because I know Rupert is good, the moviemakers held him back in this film and his performance suffered. Nevertheless, we now know that Rupert really likes those slugs and their artificial flavourings. Am I the only one who wonders if he accidentally tried to eat one?

< >I was happy with Emma. Her acting has usually been good, save for the occasional awkward/unnecessary lines she sometimes gets, and I think they integrated Emma's part well into the story. She gets a bit teary when explaining the term "Mudblood" - yes, I know, that was Ron's part, but it turns out fine - and I thought that was fabulous; it showed Hermione's more emotional side and would give kids a better understanding of how hurtful names can be. Her scenes with Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) are interesting. Tom Felton is oftentimes a bit over the top as Draco, but seems to do well when interacting with Emma. The glares they share are menacing and their facial expressions are nicely choreographed.

< >As for the adult actors, I think the two shining stars this time around are Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy and Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart. Absolutely great in their roles. I was scared out of my wits over the former, and laughing my head off with the latter. I was originally wary of both men - when the picture of Mr. Isaacs (can you say sexy with flair?) came out with that white hair, I nearly flipped - but as soon as they come on screen, they're great. The tension between father and son is wonderful, and Branagh is a right twerp. You'll love 'em.

< >Christian Coulson also does fair work. His hair is a bit weird looking, but he works his part well. I was pleased by how close the script, especially in the Chamber of Secrets, was to the novels, and the contact between Christian and Daniel as characters was intense and riveting. And he does the rearranging of the words! I feel a jig coming on.

< >The only real wretchedness of this flick is the absence of Alan Rickman. He appears once near the beginning where he berates Harry and Ron about the Ford Anglia, but that's in his office - he doesn't greet them outside in those classic lines that would have been perfect for this film. One reason they didn't do that scene may be because if you look at the movie castle, the Great Hall is set on a cliff and the windows overlook the lake. The dueling scene is enjoyable, although for some reason there looks to be less Daniel Radcliffe aerobatics in the film than what there was in the trailer. I have no idea why. Alan Rickman does a great job in this scene and it's very amusing, but the gesture he makes to Draco to get up on the stage was a bit strange. The only other time he really shows up is at the end, when he and the other professors tell Lockhart off. Three freaking scenes. Anyone willing to start a campaign with me? "More Rickman for Potter!" sound like a good slogan?

< >This film made a lot more sense than Sorcerer's Stone. I literally got confused in that movie the first two times I saw it, and I'd read the book some thirteen times before then. The time Harry spends with the Weasley's is ultra fast. Going to Diagon Alley on the same day he gets there was rather strange and "coincidentally" meeting Hermione was interesting. Damn it, I want the Knockturn Alley scenes with Draco and Lucius BACK in the movie, and I don't want to just see it on the DVD and VHS!

< >One thing was a bit confusing even to me, because I know they cut out some things: after Harry and Ron get yelled at, Harry is suddenly helping Lockhart address his fan letters. There is absolutely no explanation as to why he's doing this and it seems a bit odd; I think they cut the detention scenes and just left this piece in because it's a fairly influential (and hilarious) part of the book. If you remember, a few months ago I pointed out the prop people spelled Tom Riddle's name wrong on the special services plaque, which Ron was supposed to be cleaning for detention and it may have been cut for the misspelling and for time.

< >On the subject of graphics, for the most part they were excellent. I loved Dobby, I loved Fawkes, and the Quidditch scenes were cool and just as brutal as last time (eck. Poor Oliver Wood). The graphics only look weird when Fawkes enters the chamber and when they're leaving, only you're too distracted by Branagh yelling, "It's just like magic!" too notice much on that one. Fawkes looks absolutely real and so does Dobby. Watch Dobby's body language when he is in Harry's bedroom. It's tubular, radical, wicked, narly, etc.. Take your pick and it'll work.

< >The cinematography was much better for this movie. Barely anything was dark, like the first scenes of Sorcerer's Stone or when they were in the room with the winged keys. The only dark scene is actually with the poor graphics I mentioned before with the funny line. Nevertheless, I have one major complaint: the last camerawork in Dumbledore's office. Lucius Malfoy (Isaacs) has been in full light the entire time and looks especially evil. All of a sudden, when he says, "Let's hope Harry Potter, blah-blah-blah," he has these weird and unflattering rectangular shadows over his face. It's the weirdest thing in the movie, I think, and I think it screwed up that scene, because the excellent way the filmmakers set Lucius up does not call at all for extra shadowing. It's completely unnecessary and irksome.

< >The ending sucks. It is sincerely worse than Sorcerer's Stone's ending, which I found mildly amusing solely because the kid playing Lee Jordan (who, yes, still looks and sounds like a twelve-year-old girl) jumps up and down like a maniac and screams. In Chamber of Secrets, the conclusion is too long, too teary, everyone surrounds Hagrid and hugs him like he's Santa Claus at a shopping mall giving out cookies, and there is the most terrible 'reuniting' scene with the trio where it looks, if you please, like Hermione is a scarlet woman. She bear hugs Harry and this weird handshaking thing goes on between Ron and herself, which is really the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. The film almost says Ms. Granger fancies both of them and we don't even really know for sure if she likes either of them in the books. It's an assumption I don't like being made.

< >Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The dichotomy between the annoying-to-corny aspects and the good-to-great parts balance each other out. On average, acting from all around is a few touches above the norm, the graphics are awesome, and the cinematography (save for the aforementioned scenes) is far superior to the first movie.

< >If you went in expecting it to be nothing like the books, then you, like myself, were pleasantly surprised by how well the film played out in accordance to the books, while still coming into its own. My mother gave it "a 75 out of a 100 because it has a good beat and you'll only miss a few dance steps." I, however, give it a B or two-and-three quarter stars. It's not a three-star film, but it's not a two and a half-star film either, and I think most fans will truly like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It's a well-done interpretation of my favourite Potter book and I'm quite happy with it.

-- Gypsy Silverleaf
November 9-15, 2002

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