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Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,
Reviewed by Falstaff
Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, or Kids Who Break Rules
Part II, as I like to call it, was, much like the first Harry
Potter movie, highly anticipated. And with good reason, as the successes
of the first installment of J. K. Rowling’s series on the
big screen is undoubtable.
first good point about this movie is that it is by far more unified
and linear, unlike the rather episodic Sorcerer’s Stone.
The unraveling of the mystery of the Chamber is not lost in-between
choppy introductory and expositionary scenes. The thematic material
– prejudice within the wizarding world – is dealt with
firmly without too much sermonizing.
second improvement over the first movie is the visual effects. 2002
marked the invasion of quality CG characters into moviemaking with
three characters: Yoda, Gollum, and, in the Chamber of Secrets,
Dobby the House-Elf. Although Dobby is not as impressive as Gollum
animationwise, he is still a memorable addition to the movie, and
Toby Jones’ voice acting is superb.
the next best visual improvements are the wand spell effects. The
wizard duels between Slith and Lockhart and Harry and Draco Malfoy
are beautifully done – the spell blasts are visually original,
and each one is completely different from the others. All of the
minor spells are improved as well, even down to Hermione’s
creatures of the Chamber of Secrets are also great, whether
they are puppets, like the Baby Mandrake Roots and Fawkes the Phoenix,
or CG, like the Cornish Pixies and the Basilisk. Probably the best
in the movie are the spiders that chase Harry and Ron in the Dark
Forest. The spiders were incredibly creepy and very realistic, definitely
some of the best spiders I have ever seen in a movie. Indeed, the
spiders and the Basilisk are so frightening, one wonders if the
special effects people forgot that they were making a children’s
movie! Other additions, such as the Whomping Willow and the Howler,
a screaming letter from Ron’s mother, make for a very visually
stunning visual experience.
music is, of course, perfect. Familiar themes and new ones combine
to make a soundtrack that is memorable and, like the first movie,
action sequences in this movie are all an improvement over the first.
The wizard duels, as already mentioned, are stunning, and the chase
scenes in the Dark Forest are exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat sequences.
Harry’s battle with the Basilisk is well done, combining CG
and live-action seamlessly. And of course, every scene involving
the Weasley’s flying car is fun.
The entire returning
cast is, as expected, excellent, and makes the movie what it is
to a much higher degree than any of the special effects. Again,
without the superb casting, the Harry Potter movies would not be
nearly as believable or magical as they are.
All of the child
actors are much more mature as actors, and act more naturally in
front of the camera. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron),
and Emma Watson (Hermione) work much better as an ensemble, instead
of stealing scenes from each other (as Watson tended to do sometimes
in the Sorcerer’s Stone). Grint overdoes Ron’s cowardly
scenes a bit, but otherwise, the three have grown into their characters
much more. Of special note is Tom Felton, who really plays the snide
and vicious Draco Malfoy exponentially better than in the first
cast, already superb, is improved even more by two major additions.
Kenneth Branagh plays the vain Professor Gilderoy Lockhart with
his usual relish and panache, in a style reminiscent of his portrayal
of Hamlet. Anther stroke of genius on the part of the casting department,
for sure. The second major addition is Jason Isaacs, who takes the
role of Lucius Malfoy, Draco’s father, and creates a truly
villanous character. Isaacs’ performance of the arrogant and
ire-filled wizard makes Draco Malfoy look like Winnie the Pooh in
casting moves are Mark Williams and Julie Walters as Mr. and Mrs.
Weasley. These two fine actors portray the humorous Weasley parents
fantastically well, and make for good patrons of the Weasley family.
of Secrets is a fairly dark movie, and parents should take the PG
rating seriously – more so than the first movie in the series,
with scarier creatures and violence, and some mild language. It
is also, like the first movie, very long, finally wrapping up at
the whole, the makers of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
have created another entertaining fantasy film that movie lovers
will love for years to come. Hopefully, the rest of J. K. Rowling’s
series will be as well done on the big screen as the first two.