I suppose this is a bit late, but I was just notified that no one else here had planned to see the movie. Since I’m new to the whole “authorship” position I’d quite forgotten that I could take the initiative and write one myself. Now that I’ve remembered, I’ve written a complete review of a rather good movie. Caution: possible spoilers.
To rip it straight from the trailer: “Join the student of Hogwarts for
their second year.” What was magical last year is old hat this year. Or
would be if some really weird stuff didn’t start happening. Seriously,
are these kids ever going to learn anything?
Cast, Crew, and Other Info
Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall
Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart
Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid
Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape
Warwick Davis as Professor Filius Flitwick
Sean Biggerstaff as Oliver Wood
Shirley Henderson (I) as Moaning Myrtle
Miriam Margolyes as Professor Sprout
Alfred Burke as Headmaster Armando Dippet
Sally Mortemore as Madam Irma Pince
David Bradley (IV) as Groundskeeper Argus Filch
Complete cast and crew information is provided by the IMDB and can be found here.
Seeing as I’m one of the few “reviewers” out there who read the book first, I
have a few perspectives of high point. The real high point is the
restraint the studio executives have shown in sticking to the books. The
high point of the movie, however, is the Weasly family and their home.
It’s our first glimpse into a wizard home – and how the “good” wizards do
things. I was anxiously awaiting seeing this house and its myriad inhabitants,
and it lived up to expectations and more.
Okay, so it’s not as new and magical as the last one, but the upshot
is that they get to spend more time on plot. The low point in this movie
was really rather minor – the (teeny spoiler) sword Harry pulls out at the end of the movie is pretty pathetic, and he keeps climb
ing up and up this statue to
attack an enemy that was perfectly happy attacking him on the ground.
How original is any movie taken from a book? Especially one this
faithful to the book? On the other hand, if we’re judging how original
the story is, or how originally the story is told, it’s pretty darn original.
If you haven’t read the books, do so. If you don’t care about the movies, you
might want to consider at least renting them. They’re fun and well written,
and I give the originality a 5 out of 6.
The effects wizards have really outdone themselves this time. The
whomping willow was never something I really had well pictured in my mind until
the movie – just for the record, that is something I have NEVER uttered
before now. The quidditch matches have gone from acceptable if a little
obvious CG to being almost perfect. I don’t know if they dropped the CG in
favor of blue screen or if CG has just improved that much, but WOW. Even
the house elves were good. I never liked the character of Dobby in the books
and I was expecting to react a la Jar Jar, but he was excellently done, and
really minorly annoying. I give the effects 6 out of 6.
A movie like this has two areas of story to deal with. First – is it a
good story, and second – was it well adapted? The answer to the first
question is a definite yes. I’m not comparing it to Lord of the Rings –
or, quite frankly, even things like Steve Brust’s Jehreg books. They
are, however, “ripping good yarns”, you might say. Now, are they well
adapted? I’ve discussed the movie with people who’ve never read the books –
or, indeed, seen the first movie in an attempt to determine what holes
there might have been. I knew there were some – I couldn’t remember what they
were, however, as I filled in the blanks with prior knowledge. The answer?
They did a reasonable job, but a lot of important information was left out.
I give the story a 4 out of 6.
The acting was definitely good. Much better than the first movie – the
actors have gotten their legs and really know their characters. While you may
say “But the actors should know their characters in the first movie.
Well, they did. Now, however, they really know the characters.
Richard Harris was showing signs of his impending demise – he really did seem
ill, his health failing in front of your eyes. It was sad to see. I look
forward to seeing how they handle this in future movies, but Richard Harris
will be missed. I give the acting 6 out of 6.
Emotional response was…well, difficult to describe. I’d invested
my emotions in the book, and the movie was basically going over the same
territory. Perhaps it was because this was the least emotionally engaging
of the four books, but I wasn’t as grabbed by it. The things that did
get me were mostly excised – Harry’s discussions with the diary and the
details of Hagrid’s back story, the reason he never became a full wizard.
That last bit is rather important to Hagrid’s character – especially when
he finds that’s he’s been cleared of all his past record. So, regretfully,
I give emotional response 3 out of 6. This is probably the thing that
caused most of the pannings it got from critics.
Production value was great. It can hardly fail to be when someone
who’s shown themselves to be excited about the work has that much money
to dump into it. The production gets a solid 6 out of 6.
Overall, it was a fun film, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go see it again (well,
I would, but only because theater tickets are so darned expensive). I’m
anxiously awaiting the next one – all the more due to how good a movie they
created with the “least” of the four books. I give the movie a 5 out of 6
In total, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets gets a 35 out of 42.