Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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

Daniel Radcliffe as
Harry James Potter
Emma Watson (II) as Hermione Granger

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore (RIP)

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

Directed by Christopher Columbus
Written by J.K. Rowling and Steven Kloves based on the novel by J
.K. Rowling.

Complete cast and crew information is provided by the IMDB and can be found here.

High Point

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.

Low Point

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.

The Scores

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.

7 replies on “Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

  1. I SOMEWHAT agree with this review…
    Maybe I’m just picking knits, but I thought that an extra 10 or 15 mins added to the movie wouldn’t have been TOO much to ask in order to get a better “feel” of Weasley household — and give more of a voice to Fred and George. They pretty much just stood around and shrugged.

    I also think it was a bad idea to change the “fight” between Malfoy and Mr. Weasley at the book shop to just an argument. I liked the idea the Weasley and Malfoy coming to blows.

    Yes, I know the movie was already “long”, but this is important plot material for future books. How much are they going to chop out of book 4?

    Other than that, good review.


  2. saw the film last saturday
    Good review! And I agree on most points… Since I wrote my own review last sunday (doh! probably should have posted here), more of my opinions can be found here.


  3. Well…
    It has been a while since I read the book, and I must admit that I had forgotten completely about the fight in the bookstore. While I agree with you about adding 15 minutes to the movie having probably made it better, you might notice that I have other ideas as to where it would have been better spent. also – just because I felt the weasley’s house was the high point doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been better. I honestly had a heck of a time picking a high point. The whole movie flowed really well, enough that I’d consider the whole thing a “medium high” point.

    • Re: Well…

      It has been a while since I read the book, and I must admit that I had

      that I’d consider the whole thing a “medium high” point.

      and, thanks.

    • Re: Well…

      It has been a while since I read the book, and I must admit that I had forgotten completely about the fight in the bookstore.

      There were a number of “omitted” scences which REALLY gave one a feel for the Weasley family. The “Garden Gnome” scene would have been interesting. From the movie, it appears that Harry spent a few hours at the Weasley house. In the book, he was there about 2 weeks.

      Again, maybe I’m picking knits… All things considered, this series so far has done an excellent job translating from book to film. Far better than most. As you say, it could still have been better.


  4. Never read the book . . .

    I never read the books and still have no desire to read them. I trust others on their judgement of the books adaptations to the big screen. So here’s my take on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

    Since the Socercer’s Stone and Lord of the Rings, HP2 is the first movie I have been looking forward to all year with as much anticipation as I have for the upcoming Two Towers.

    So was it worth it? Well I laughed a lot. I was very impressed with the CGI. It dragged in a few places. Overall I thought the story in it of its self was very good. Not knowing a lot of the backstory I thought everything tidied up quite well and left a few openings for the next one.

    Where was I disappointed, well I thought some of the behaviors toward the end were a bit strange. I’m not willing to give anything away. Let’s just say I had a few problems with the second to last confrontation/fight scene in the movie.

    I missed the details that were in HP1. When we first see Hogwarts we see a lot of backdrop i.e. framed moving pictures, ghosts, the chocolates. Many scenes in HP1 had much visual eye candy. I was looking forward to this in HP2. They had less of it in this one and I was a bit disappointed.

    So far I liked HP1 more than HP2. I thought maybe I was being unfair in my judgement so I watched HP1 again. Yep, I do like the first one better. HP2 doesn’t have that “certian something” that HP1 has. Many have told me that that’s because I’ve seen most of the effects already. I disagree, I didn’t think the effects made the movie the first time around. So I wasn’t expecting them to make the movie this time.

    My dissappointment in HP2 comes from its lack of emotionality. HP1 has that emotional tug at your heartstrings for Harry. We know that Harry is capable of extraordinary things. In HP1 we follow Harry on his journey of self discovery and courage he never knew he had. I know I took it for granted in HP2 that Harry will come out on top. I didn’t find myself so attached to the outcome of the movie because I inherently knew what would happen in the end.

    Despite that HP2 does deliver a strong story and the characters came off as much more assured of themselves. Which is clearly visible in the bookstore scene.

    Overall HP2 delivers when and where it counts. Story and acting were top notch.

    • Re: Never read the book . . .

      I never read the books and still have no desire to read them. I trust others on their judgement of the books adaptations to the big screen. So here’s my take on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

      Overall HP2 delivers when and where it counts. Story and acting were top notch.

      excellent points, all. one question – if you want to mail me privately, my e-mail is csanner at tux dot org – what WAS your question about the penultimate fight scene?

      I can also tell you that the fact that all the details were missing from the second movie is indicative of the fact that all the details were missing from the second book. It’s because Rowling felt that since she’d already introduced it all she didn’t need to draw attention to it unless it was a plot point.

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