Thoughts about the movie: Even in one year’s time the kids’ appearances have changed. They look a little more mature. The cgi was better done in this movie, too. Dobby looked much more real than the cgi creatures in the first movie. (He also looked kind of like Vladimir Putin for some reason.) The movie speeds right along, sometimes because of deleted sequences (see below), but also because the story is relatively simple and it lends itself to fast movement. Richard Harris (Dumbledore) died shortly before this movie opened. I don’t know how ill he was during filming. Perhaps it was only my imagination, but he seemed less energetic and his voice sounder hoarser than in the first movie. The three actors who play Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Crabbe (Jamie Waylett), and Goyle (Josh Herdman) probably enjoyed this movie because they have a whole scene where they get to do more than just show up to issue threats to Harry Potter. It’s also a scene where Harry and Ron are masquerading as Crabbe and Goyle, so those two actors got to play versions of the more famous characters. Stay tuned until after the credits to see an additional scene where Gilderoy Lockhart’s new book is shown.
Big Names, Familiar Faces, and Familiar Voices: This movie continues the series trend of having well known
actors/actresses playing roles both across many movies, and in smaller cameos within only one or two movies. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets returns Richard Harris (Headmaster Albus Dumbledore), Dame Maggie Smith (Professor Minerva McGonagall), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Fiona Shaw (Aunt Petunia Dursley), Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon Dursley), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley), John Cleese (Nearly Headless Nick), David Bradley (Argus Filch), and Alan Rickman (Professor Severus Snape). Joining them this time are Mark Williams (Mr. Weasley), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Kenneth Branagh (Professor Gilderoy Lockhart), Miriam Margolyes (Professor Pomona Sprout), Gemma Jones (Madame Pomfrey), Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle), and Robert Hardy (Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge). In addition, the voices of Toby Jones and Julian Glover are heard for the characters of Dobby and Aragog, respectively. U.K.
Thoughts on the book vs. the movie: Despite the similar text length, this movie cut out more scenes from the book than the first one did, yet ended up running about 10 minutes longer. This happened because they pumped up several of the action scenes. Ron and Harry don’t just fly the car to Hogwarts; they almost get killed a couple of times on the way. The Quidditch match adds a long battle between Harry and Draco Malfoy to catch the Snitch. The sequence in the forest near the end has a much longer escape. So, too, does the final battle with the monster from the Chamber of Secrets. In order to fit all these new things in they had to cut a lot of scenes. This led to some things in the movie making no sense to people who had not read the book (i.e. Hagrid bursting into Dumbledore’s office holding a dead rooster). Some challenges were removed (i.e. Harry immediately figures out how the diary works.) They also may have cut some scenes, such as the kids using fireworks to distract Snape so they could steal ingredients from his office, because they didn’t want to encourage copycats. There are close to 20 deleted scenes on the Blu-ray disk, many of which get edited back in for TV broadcasts, and they address some of these gaps. They also eliminated characters by shifting their key dialogue to an established character (i.e. the legend of the Chamber of Secrets is told by Professor McGonagall in the film.) The movie revealed a pun to me that I had not picked up on with the first movie – the name “Diagon Alley”. When Harry tries to travel there via floo powder he pronounces it as “diagonally”. I’m guessing the filmmakers decided to cast 37 year old Shirley Henderson to play teenage ghost Moaning Myrtle because of her squeaky voice. The translucent ghost appearance helped some to disguise her age. The screenwriter added a particularly funny joke when Harry forgets to remove his glasses while masquerading as Goyle. Both Branagh and Isaacs were perfectly cast as their characters, although it is worth noting that the filmmakers originally had Hugh Grant lined up to play Gilderoy Lockhart.
Old rating vs. new rating: I originally rated this movie 3 stars and I am keeping it there. Even though this movie has better effects than the first one, I like the first one a little better.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
DVD Blu-ray Instant Video
DVD Blu-ray Instant Video