Friday, December 27, 2013

Movie #237: Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is, of course, the second in the series, and the last one unequivocally for kids (the third one is mostly kid-friendly, after that it gets more serious). It stars everyone from the first one, and adds Kenneth Branagh, Jason Isaacs, and Miriam Margoyles.

Harry hasn't heard from his buddies all summer, and his evil uncle won't let his bird out, so he can't get letters to them. And then a house elf called Dobby (voiced by Toby Jones) appears and warns him he can't go back to Hogwarts, but won't say why. He escapes his adopted home by means of the Weasley brothers and their flying car, and winds up back at Hogwarts. But then people start turning up petrified, and a sinister message referencing the Chamber of Secrets shows up. Harry has to once again venture, alone, into the bowels of the school and confront another version of Voldemort in order to save the day.

This movie suffers from some of the same problems as the first one - Chris Columbus not knowing what to cut and what to leave in, for instance - but overall it's a lot smoother. Branagh is perfectly cast as the foppish Gilderoy Lockhart, and the movie seeds many of the events of the coming stories (Snape sticking up for Harry and company, the horcruxes, and so forth). Jason Isaacs is suitably slimy as Lucius Malfoy - also, anybody else notice that he was casting a fucking killing curse on Harry at the end there when Dobby stopped him? That's... a bit un-subtle, ain't it?

In any case, while the book version of Chamber of Secrets, in my opinion, comes off like a retread of the first movie, the movie version builds fairly well on what we've seen and broadens the mythology of the world nicely. And, of course, the third movie is among the best, so there's that to look forward to.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Easy A